“Ella, Ella, Under my Umbrella”….just five days prior to our arrival in Poland’s third biggest city, those words has reverberated across the Stadion ŁKS as one of the most famous and sought after artists in the world, Rhianna played in front of a sell out crowd in the adjacent Atlas Area. One hundred and fifteen hours later, Danny Last and I were wrapped up like Michelin men outside the football stadium, huddled under a canopy, waiting to pick up our press passes from ŁKS Łódź . Now don’t get me wrong, I love Danny Last but he’s no Rhianna and so when he uttered the chorus line for the umpteenth time I told him exactly where he could stick his bloody “Ella” and I wandered off in a huff to find some football socks for my collection.
Our trip to the frozen central plains of Poland had begun like that of thousands of heroes before us at Stansted Airport at 5am on a Saturday morning. We had endured the 2 hour mind torture that is Ryanair and had completed a quick recce of Poznan where the Irish will be playing next Summer (question – when the Irish go abroad, do they seek out the nearest English pub and drink watered down Fosters and watch episodes of Only Fools and Horses with their Roast Beef and two veg?). From Poznan we had travelled east in 1st class Polish train luxury to Warsaw as you can read over at EFW. Let’s hope they have finished the tram link to the stadium as it is a long walk otherwise. We also discovered after what seemed liked an eternity that Polish train stations are not allowed by law to sell alcohol. So now we know why they all head over to England!
Sunday morning saw us rise early from our 5 star luxury abode. Events of the previous day/night slowly started to unfold. Mobile phones tend to leave a history and looking at my call/text/Twitter log left me in no doubt I had had a few too many. All I will say is that no, I don’t think we should do that, yes it was very hairy and Mum, I was only joking. The noise of the Legia fans was still ringing in our ears, and after a quick Poznan across our Westin hotel room we headed out into the freezing day trying to jointly piece together the evening.
There had been a lock-in at the pub we eventually found. It was a Polish Karaoke bar, hosted by Chris Evans (at 2am he could’ve been his twin brother anyway) who kept plying us with Lech’s, with the mistaken belief that we were journalists and would write nice things about Pub Ślusarna in ul Waliców 12 in the official (ish) guide to Euro2012. Well, we can’t be bought that easy! And if you thought we were joining in in getting up on a table you would have grossly mistaken our outlook on life. Continue reading