Ukraine v Ireland – Łódź , Poland – June 2022
Unable to play at home for obvious reasons, the Ukrainians chose Łódź as their surrogate home venue. Łódź (pronounced “wudge”) is Poland’s third biggest city, right in the middle of the country, with a population of about 700,000. It is the home of Poland’s film industry, was formerly the country’s manufacturing hub and has latterly becoming a burgeoning tourist spot.
ulica Piotrkowska claims to be the longest street in Europe. Essentially this is the town square of the city, sprouting an eclectic mix of houses, palaces, villas, factories, shops, churches and memorials. EC1 Misato Kultry (science museum and art space) and Manufaktura (shopping mall, multiplex cinema, hotel, theatre and sports facilities) are fabulous examples of red brick factories that have been repurposed into urban revitalisation projects that Dublin City Council would do well to learn from.
Ukrainians were nowhere to be seen in Łódź except at the stadium before the match. The locals of Łódź are young, English speaking and can really sing, as we found out to our cost at the Monday night karaoke in Biblioteka Pub.
Tried a Łódź specialty, Koło Młyńskie, goose stew with peppers, onions, and pickles in a potato pancake and it was stupendous. Doner kebabs here come in Paninis rather than pitta bread.
Tyskie, Lech and Warka beers you will remember from Euro 2012 and are widely available in London. Because there were few Ukrainians there and the locals largely disinterested, the approximately 400 Irish who travelled (including 30 from RISSC London) pretty much had the bars of ulica Piotrkowska to themselves. Honourable mentions to Klub Casablanca and The Football Pub who put on the Ireland U-21 match for us.
Stadion Miejski im. Władysława Króla is a rather decent newly refurbished ground of 18,000, 10 minutes by tram west of ulica Piotrkowska. Stands are close to the pitch, there were no issues with security and we were not held back from leaving at full-time.
There used to be an Irish pub in Łódź called, um, Irish Pub. Had it been open, it would have been the meeting point for the travelling Irish supporters. But it is now shut, and in its place instead is the Łódź Ukrainian Consulate.