Topics of coins

Polonia Warszawa

Polonia Warszawa are one of Poland’s oldest and most successful football clubs. In 2011, the club celebrates its centenary. This Warsaw side were one of the pioneers of football in Poland. Polonia finished as runners-up in the first national football competition in 1921, with Cracovia Kraków crowned the champions. Polonia Warszawa were also one of the founders of the Polish football league in 1927. The Warsaw side achieved its greatest successes in 1946 and 2000 when they won the league titles. Polonia football players are known as the Black Shirts, with the nickname deriving from the uncommon colour of their football shirts.

Polonia Warszawa’s 1946 victory in the first Polish domestic competition after World War II, called “the championship on the ruins of the capital city”, was legendary and went down in the history of Polish sport. The players wearing all black shirts were underdogs due to the extremely difficult conditions in which their club operated in the ruined city. Their victory was perceived as the symbol of the reconstruction of Warsaw.

The club has patriotic roots as it was founded during the period of the partitions of Poland. The Latin name of Poland, adopted as the name of the football club, and the crest in the form of a red and white shield were designed to promote the aspirations for freedom among Warsaw youths. The name of the club was coined by Wacław Denhoff-Czarnocki (1894-1927), an independence activist, member of the Polish Legions, a poet (the author of lyrics for the soldier’s song O mój rozmarynie rozwijaj się [Oh, my rosemary, grow]). Warsaw’s respected families, including the Gebethners and Loths, were the leading founders of the club. Pastor August Loth (1869-1944), one of the spiritual leaders of the Polish Evangelical Church, was one of the first chairmen of KS Polonia. In the years 1928–1939, the club was headed by General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces during WW2.

A number of outstanding footballers played for Polonia Warszawa. One of Warsaw’s squares has been named after the club’s legendary player, Władysław Szczepaniak (1910-1979). He was associated with the Warsaw club throughout his football career, played in the Polish national team for nearly two decades, and was named its captain in 18 matches. He participated in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and in the FIFA World Cup in France in 1938. Jerzy Bułanow (1903-1980), the Polonia defender who was a member of the “white” Russian emigration, also captained the Polish national team many times.

Two Black Shirts footballers, Jan Loth (1900-1933) and Artur Marczewski (1896-1945), played in the first match of the Polish national team against Hungary on 18 December 1921 (Poland lost 0:1). Polonia players have recently again been selected for the Polish national team. In 2002, Emmanuel Olisadebe scored to help Poland qualify for the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

In 1952–1991, the club was hit by a deep organisational and sports crisis, mainly on the back of the discriminatory policy of the authorities of the People’s Republic of Poland. Polonia were perceived by communist authorities as a club linked in the past to the right-leaning Sanation movement and the Home Army, which resulted in adverse decisions taken by the State, the only sports sponsor of that time. The reconstruction of the position of the Black Shirts in sports dates back to the critical year of 1989. In 1991, Polonia Warszawa were promoted from the third to the second tier, before returning to the top flight in 1993 (having stayed 41 years in the lower leagues).

The turn of the 20th and 21st century was the most successful in the club’s history as Polonia claimed their second league title, the runnerup title, and lifted the Polish Cup. Polonia represented Poland in a number of European competitions; in 2000, the club failed to advance to the Champions League by one goal only, after losing to Greece’s Panathinaikos FC (2:2 and 1:2). Polonia Warszawa are currently one of the leading sides in the Polish top flight.

Jacek C. Kamiński
KS Polonia Warszawa

Domestic and international honours

  • League title – 1946, 2000.
  • Runner-up title – 1921, 1926, 1998.
  • Polish Cup – 1952, 2001.
  • Polish Super Cup – 2000.
  • League Cup – 2000.
  • Semi-final of the UEFA Intertoto Cup – 1999.