Polish Fan’s Last Will Aids Hutnik Krakow in Their Last Gasp

Hutnik Krakow supporters

Their players have only just received their first income since July, and even that is still not enough to make a decent living: this is not the Premier League, not even Portsmouth. But even this small mercy for the players was all thanks to one fan, whose last will was to donate some money to his beloved club.

The story of Hutnik Krakow’s faithful fanbase doesn’t start there, though.

They used to face the likes of Henry and Barthez at Monaco, and they also own the highest score of all Polish teams in the history of the UEFA Cup — a 9-0 win against the rather obscure  Xazri Buzovna from Azerbaijan. Yet their European adventures from 1996 are just a legend close to fading away nowadays. Hutnik Krakow may be leading their 4th league group at the moment, but they may soon vanish from the football map.

Hutnik Krakow’s Rise

Established in 1950 by the socialist authorities, Hutnik was supposed to provide entertainment for the working class of Nowa Huta — the first town to be built from start to finish in Poland following socialist urban planning ideas. Just as Nowa Huta, with its immense Lenin Steelworks, was seen as an unwelcome gift for nearby Krakow’s citizens, Hutnik’s stadium was a nightmare neighbour for the pictoresque Cistercian Abbey.

Nowa Huta

Since Nowa Huta’s incorporation into Krakow in 1951, the club had to settle for being the outsiders in the football landscape of the city, which already hosted several successful teams. Without much history or success, Hutnik and its following had to work  hard to forge an identity for themselves.

Over the course of time, the working class club from Krakow’s most unliked district has done well to prevail and earn a few honours. Though cynically called “wellies” due to the working clothes worn by steelworks employees who have made up much of the fanbase, the club have managed to garner some prestige: Hutnik qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1996, beaten by star-loaded AS Monaco.

Hutnik Krakow’s Supporters Stand Up

After success came a sudden and dramatic demise. Relegated in 1997, 2000 and 2008, they have ended up in Poland’s 4th league, now millions in debt and unlikely ever to return to their former heights. But one thing the club does have, though, are faithful supporters who have shown remarkable spirit over the recent seasons.

Forget about stars in luxury cars, Hutnik fans have lent one player a bike so that he could attend training. They have offered shelter to several others who had nowhere to live and couldn’t afford to rent an apartment. They have also prepared sandwiches for junior players and covered injury treatment expenses. In June, they collected money during one game so that their players could go for the second leg of a tie a day earlier instead of taking a long and tiring bus journey right before the match. Some of them are even organising blood donation charities.

And most recently this month, came a show of a new level of faithful support: An anonymous elderly supporter called the club, informing them he was offering a reward for the players if they won the next game — of nearly $2,000. The coach and administration staff were stunned – no player had received a wage for over two months, and only several of the oldest were told of the unexpected bonus. After a difficult 3-2 win in Andrychow, the coach asked the players to wait in their lockerroom, while he and the team’s captain went to the fan’s house to collect the prize.

It turned out the supporter, who had lost his leg in an accident, is elderly and suffers from a very serious disease. For years he had not been to any of Hutnik’s games due to his condition, but after every game his voice was heard on Hutnik’s office phone asking for the final score. He also read the papers, listened to the radio and asked his neighbour about recent affairs. Now, expecting to pass away soon, he chose to donate his money to aid beloved Hutnik.

Michał Karaś is an occasional contributor to Pitch Invasion. Find him at Stadiony.net. With credit to Piotr Jawor’s coverage of Hutnik Krakow in Gazeta Wyborcza.

Fan’s last will may be club’s last gasp

Players have just received their first wages since July, even if not enough to make any kind of living. But even this was all thanks to one fan, whose last will is to donate some money to his beloved club. The story of Hutnik Krakow’s faithful fanbase doesn’t start there though.

They used to face the likes of Henry and Barthez at Monaco, they also own the highest score of all Polish teams in UEFA Cup – 9:0 against much unknown Azerbaijani Xazri Buzovna Baku. But their Eauropean adventures from 1996 are just a legend close to fading away nowadays. Hutnik Krakow may be leading their 4th league group at the moment, but they may soon vanish from the football map.

Established in 1950’s by the socialist authorities Hutnik was supposed to provide entertainment for the working class of Nowa Huta – first town to be built from start to finish according to the socialistic urbanistic ideas. Just as Nowa Huta with its immense Lenin Steelworks was seen as an unwelcome gift for nearby Krakow’s citizens, Hutnik’s stadium was a nightmare neighbour for the pictoresque Cistercian Abbey.

Since Nowa Huta’s incorporation into Krakow in 1951 the club had to settle for being the outsiders in the football landscape of the city, which already hosted several successive teams, including those that brought football to Poland in the first place. Without much history or success Hutnik and its following had to work out an identity for themselves.

Over the course of history the working class club from Krakow’s most unliked district has done well to prevail and earn a few honours. Though called cynically „wellies” due to working clothes worn around by steelworks employees, Hutnik have even managed to fight in Europe in 1996, beaten by star-loaded AS Monaco.

After success came a significant demise. Relegated in 1997, then in 2000 and 2008 they ended up in 4th league, now facing several million debts and very doubtful perspective of a comeback. One thing the club does have though are faithful supporters who have shown some great spirit over the recent seasons.

Forget about stars in luxury cars, Hutnik fans have lent one player a bike so that he could attend trainings. They offered shelter to several others who had no flat and couldn’t afford to rent one. They also prepared sandwiches for junior players and covered injury treatment expenses. In June they collected money during one game so that their players could go for the second leg a day earlier instead of taking a long and tiring bus journey right before the match. Some of them are even organising blood donation charities.

Finally comes September and a show of faithfulness quite unseen. An unonimous elderly supporter called the club, informing he’s got a reward for the players if they win the next game – zl 5,000 (nearly $ 2,000). The coach and administration staff were stunned – no player received any wage for over 2 months, and only several of the oldest were told of the unexpected bonus. After a difficult 3:2 win in Andrychow coach asked the players to wait in their lockerroom, while he and the team’s captain went to the fan’s house to collect the prize.

It turned out the supporter, who lost his leg in an accident, is elderly and suffers from a very serious desease. For years he hasn’t been to any game of Hutnik due to his state, but after every game his voice was heard on Hutnik’s office phone asking for the final score. He also read the papers, listened to the radio and asked his neighbour about recent affairs. Now, expecting to pass away soon, he chose to donate his money to aid beloved Hutnik. The players wish to reward him for the magnificent gesture and want to pay him a visit and maybe take him to a football match.

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