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Five Fun Facts #6 Górnik Zabrze

Five fun facts travels to Eastern Europe today as Ryan Hubbard of Modern Football presents some nuggets of knowledge about one of Poland’s most successful teams Górnik Zabrze.

Górnik Zabrze chicken

1. The man of the match award goes to ..

In the English leagues we’re used to seeing the man-of-the-match receive a nice bottle of champagne, usually from Geoff Shreeves or someone equally as important in Sky’s commentary team. But in Zabrze, the best player of the game receives his prize from a man called Stanislaw Sętkowski, Górnik’s most iconic supporter. Similarly to Pompey’s John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood, Sętkowski is known (and heard) throughout the stadium as “the guy who rings the bell”.

But Pan (Mr) Sętkowski doesn’t give the top player a bottle of bubbly - or for that matter, a bottle of anything else. The handlebar-moustached fan presents Górnik’s star with a nice piece of poultry. Ahem, LIVE poultry. The bird (usually a rooster or a hen), is bred by Sętkowski himself. Nowadays, the bird is given to the man-of-the-match in a cage, but this wasn’t always the case.

2. Penalty shoot-outs are a bad idea ..

In modern football, penalty shootouts are the way to decide an all-square knock-out tie. But as we know, this wasn’t always the case.

During the 1969/70 Cup Winners’ Cup, Puchar Polski winners Górnik Zabrze defeated teams such as Olympiacos, Glasgow Rangers and Levski Sofia to set up a semi-final tie with Coppa Italia winners AS Roma. The first game in Rome finished 1-1, whilst the second leg in Chorzów saw a 90th minute penalty from Włodzimierz Lubański cancel out an early Fabio Capello spot-kick to take the tie to extra-time. Both sides managed to score again during the extra 30 minutes, and so an extra game was needed to separate the sides.

However, the third game in neutral Strasbourg saw another strike from Lubański, and another penalty from Capello, ending the game with another tie. With the winner needing to be decided on the night, the referee pulled out a coin. The Polish side chose correctly, and went onto the final in Vienna, eventually losing to Manchester City.

3. Our stadium was built for ..

The stadium in Zabrze was built in 1934, whilst the city was still inside the German borders and named Hindenburg. From its opening right up until 1945, the stadium was named after the country’s leader Adolf Hitler. When the Second World War was over, the border moved westwards; and the town of Hindenburg was absorbed into the Polish Republic and renamed Zabrze.

Three years later, KS Górnik Zabrze was formed and the newly titled Stadion Górnik Zabrze hosted the club’s games. In 2005, the stadium was again renamed, this time after legendary club striker Ernest Pohl.

4. We beat the European Champions ..

After winning the Polish Championship in 1967, Górnik were entered into 1967/68 European Cup. Reaching the Quarter-Finals after wins against Swedish champions Djurgardens and Soviet League winners Dinamo Kyiv, the Poles were paired against Matt Busby’s Manchester United.

The first-leg at Old Trafford saw the Red Devils win 2-0, but in the return game at the Stadion Śląski a single goal from Włodzimierz Lubański saw Górnik - despite being eliminated - claim a famous 1-0 victory in from of around 100,000 fans.

Manchester United hadn’t previously lost a game in the 67/68 tournament, and went undefeated for the remainder of the competition. This meant that Górnik Zabrze were the only team to defeat Manchester United’s famous European Champions.

5. Famous fans ..

The two most famous fans of the club that may be known to an English audience are Lukas Podolski and Adam Małysz.

German International and FC Koln striker Podolski was born in the Polish town of Gliwice, just a few miles from Zabrze and after emigrating to Germany aged 2, followed his father’s support of Górnik. Recently, he also stated that he would like to play for the club before his career was over.

Polish Ski-Jumping legend Adam Małysz also claims to be a Górnik Supporter. Both men have received VIP seats at the club’s Ernest Pohl Stadium, situated right next to each other.


Thanks to Ryan for those groovy Górnik facts. Read his blog for more on Polish football and keep up with him over on twitter.

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