EKSTRAKLASAreview brings you the first of its club-by-club season reviews . To get us started, Marcin Tyc sums up Zawisza Bydgoszcz’s year.
Almost one year ago – on the 8th of June 2013 to be exact – Zawisza Bydgoszcz were promoted to the Ekstraklasa after 19 years of playing in lower leagues. A massive achievement for the club, the fans, the city and, most of all, the players; after a long wait Zawisza were finally back at the top of the Polish football pyramid.
With the new league regulations, Zawisza secured their top-eight place at the end of the regular round – allowing them to play in the “Champions Group” for the final seven games. However the start of season 2013/2014 was not so happy for the Niebiesko-Czarne. Their first six games garnered just three points, with many predicting a quick return to the Pierwsza Liga.
However it did eventually get better. Successive victories against the last three ‘Mistrz Polski’; Wisła Kraków, Śląsk Wrocław and Legia Warsawa finally showed that Ryszard Tarasiewicz’s side were up to the challenge. And with spring wins; again with Śląsk and Wisła, as well as Górnik, Jagiellonia and Cracovia, ensuring there was to be no battle against relegation, even the loss of key players couldn’t dampen players’ spirits ahead of the league split.
After securing their status in the top half, Zawisza went on to do something never-before seen in Bydgoszcz – they lifted the Polish Cup! Defeating Zagłębie Lubin in a penalty shoot-out, they lifted their maiden major trophy in what was also their Polish Cup final debut, and in the process have also a first ever European campaign to look forward to. Despite the match being filled with many good opportunities, and Zagłębie having both the competition’s top scorer, as well as it’s best defence, it was Zawisza keeper Wojciech Kaczmarek who proved to be the hero – saving from Čotra and Bonecki before Igor Lewczuk’s decisive spot-kick in sudden death.
While 2013-14 proved to be Zawisza’s most successful ever campaign, it has also be fraught with difficulty. After the fans’ boycott which lasted the Spring round, there is still no sign of fans coming around the owner Radosław Osuch’s handling of the club. With numbers at the Zdzisław Krzyskowiak stadium dropping into three-figures, as well as other issues affecting the running of the club, Osuch has even hinted that he may be willing to end Zawisza’s seventy-year association with Bydgoszcz.
Even in the issues can be sorted out between the fans and the owner, coach Tarasiewicz’s decision to leave the club in the summer is yet another hurdle for the club to overcome.
We can only hope that the future in Bydgoszcz brightens very quickly.