UEFA EURO 2012 (Poznan)

Monday 18th June 2012
UEFA Euro 2012 Group C
Italy 2-0 Republic of Ireland
Attendance: 38,794*

So, for the final game of our 8 day adventure across Poland it was due south once again to the city of Poznan. This also meant the completion of visits to all four tournament grounds in Poland, which I suppose was the main purpose of the trip.

Poznan had been the main base of the Irish fans during the tournament and they were once again here in numbers. It was 90 degrees in the city today and I think the heat and a week of being on the lash was finally catching up with the Green Army.

Nonetheless the ale was still flowing and the songs were still being sung. The Irish had certainly made an impression on the Polish people and there was a sense today that many locals were wearing green in support of them, eager to join in with the festivities!

There was a jovial atmosphere in the packed Rynek, but it didn't seem to have the same fervour as it did in Gdanask last Thursday.


Poznan's City Stadium has a capacity of 43,090 and is the only ground of the four Polish grounds used for Euro 2012 that has been renovated, rather than built from scratch and, in my humble opinion, was the best ground of the four.

Poznan supporters are world famous for their backs-to-the-pitch celebration, which has been copied in England by Manchester Citeh fans. I have to confess that I did partake in "doing the Poznan" during the game!

Italy earned the victory they needed against an already eliminated Republic of Ireland to go through to the last eight of Euro 2012. Ireland started with well, but went behind when Antonio Cassano headed in a near post Andrea Pirlo corner, despite the best efforts of Damien Duff, winning his 100th cap, to get the ball off the line. 

An equaliser would have dumped Italy out and their keeper Gianluigi Buffon was forced to work, saving a Keith Andrews strike.

Andrews was then sent off for a second booking before Mario Balotelli volleyed in to settle Italian nerves. Italy still had to endure a few nervous minutes as a Croatia equaliser against Spain in the other Group C game would have meant they were out of the tournament, but Spain won and Italy went through as runners up.

Ireland put in a much better performance than in their two previous defeats and the fans appreciated this. They still sang, including a few anti-Roy Keane ditties, and they did their country proud. You can't help but get the feeling that it may be a while before they grace a tournament again and for some of the players this game may have been their swansong. There were rumours were going around that the likes of Shay Given, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, John O'Shea and Richard Dunne may decide to call it a day.

I can only speak as I find and It was a top week in Poland. Four great cities, four great grounds. It was an all round fantastic experience. Poland was brilliant, the people were warm, friendly and very welcoming. There was no hint of trouble and the reality bore no resemblance to what was portrayed in the media prior to the tournament. I wonder if there will be any 'documentaries' to set the record straight?

Having spent time in amongst them, I can confirm the Irish supporters are absolutely top draw and they certainly embraced Poland as Poland embraced them. This headline in a Polish newspaper sums it up...

Anyhow, one more time....POLSKA BIALO CZERWONI :)

* This was the attendance 'flashed' on the screens at the ground. Media were reporting the attendance as 44,416 despite the fact there were plenty of empty seats and for Euro 2012 the capacity of the ground was only 40,000!!

UEFA EURO 2012 (Warsaw)

Saturday 16th June 2012
UEFA Euro 2012 Group A
Greece 1-0 Russia
Attendance: 55,614*

It was with yet more bleary eyes we headed to the capital of Poland, Warsaw, for the final round of group games. A "one for the road" at 11.30pm ended up a in 3am finish after some locals invited us for a drink. Well in keeping with the spirit of the European union it would've been churlish to refuse!

This was the only game of the schedule for which we did not have tickets but whilst waiting for our train on the outskirts of Warsaw, two locals overheard our conversation about our predicament and informed us they had some 'spares'

We were happy to obtain tickets at face value but maybe if we had held on for it bit longer we may have got a cheaper deal. The natives, obviously, were more keen on watching Poland v Czech Republic (indeed the fan park in Warsaw was full to it's 100,000 capacity) and so were practically giving away tickets, the official attendance in no way taking into account the amount of empty seats. C'est la vie, I suppose.

The National Stadium in Warsaw has a capacity of 58,145 and is built on the site of the dilapidated old 10th Anniversary Stadium. This was the ground that opened the tournament last Friday and was built with the aid of £255 Million from the government.

The stadium resembles a wicker basket decorated with a waving Polish flag, which is illuminated in the dark. A very impressive stadium.

After the trouble that proceeded the Poland v Russia game in the capital on Tuesday, which had nothing to do with football, there were police everywhere but there was still a jovial atmosphere in the city.

Prior to the game, in a brew pub we found, we were discussing the possibility of the Greeks sneaking a 1-0 win and eliminating Russia on the head-to-head. Based on the way Russia had played in their previous two games, we thought there was no chance of that scenario occurring...

If only we had put our Zloty's where our mouths were! The Greeks did an absolutely fantastic job on the Russians, securing the win they needed to progress.

Giorgos Karagounis scored the only goal, right on half time, as Greece produced a major upset to knock Russia out of Euro 2012 and take their place in the quarter-finals.

Russia dominated the game before Karagounis pounced on a defensive error to fire home. The Greeks were happy to sit back and defend as the Russians, despite all their attacking play, simply ran out of ideas. The much maligned (well by us anyway) Georgios Samras was absolutely superb for the Greeks, holding the ball up and running the channels to relieve the pressure off his defenders.

At least the result gave the natives something to cheer as they too were eliminated from the competition by the Czechs.

The only disappointing aspect of my visit to Warsaw was the limited time I had to see the city. One day I will have to return to take a proper look at this historic city. Hopefully when Legia are at home!



* This was the attendance 'flashed' on the screens at the ground. I can only assume it was based on tickets sold as there were, unsurprisingly, loads of empty seats at this game.