The Valencian “Poznan”

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Valencia 2 v 1 Celta Vigo (15.09.2012)

Definition: “Doing the Poznan”: The art of a collective group of football supporters turning their backs on the action, linking arms across the shoulders, and simultaneously jumping up and down together in unison….

“Doing the Poznan”…or  so it has been named by commentators in the UK now, follows Man City fan’s adoption of the celebration after the ‘Lech Poznan Ultras’ performed it in front of them during their Europa League tie at the Stadion Miejski back in October 2010.

The “Poznan” has certainly grown in popularity since then, both across the UK and the continent, with many club’s fans such as Celtic and Valencia now regularly using it as part of their terrace (stand) culture.

But did “doing the Poznan” really originate in the stands of Lech Poznan’s Stadion Miejski?

I dare to suggest not?

I certainly recall seeing the “Poznan” back in 2006 in Skopje for England’s Euro Qualifier at the then named ‘Gradski Stadium’. The ‘Macedonian Heroes’ ultras turned their backs mid game for an impressive “Poznan” display, but although one example I would think this celebration style dates much further back than this!

So, where did it all begin then?

Has a particular clubs ultras been plagiarised by a bigger fish who now have it named after them instead? Or did it really begin at Lech Poznan? Feel free to post your suggestions  on my ‘twitter page’, or reply to this blog with your suggestions, and the clubs and dates from where it has been witnessed! It would be interesting to see if we could draw upon fans previous experiences and pull together a timeline of clubs in an attempt to identify its birthplace!

Anyway I have digressed somewhat with the opening Poznan conundrum – but this blog is really meant to be an account of my early season visit to Valencia for their La liga clash with Celta Vigo!

A summer holiday to southern Spain in September always leaves the door slightly ajar for a cheeky game of football. Whether that be in the Primera division, Segunda division, or even a European tie you just need to keep your fingers crossed and let the fixtures computer weave its magic. Myself and Kev (and our other halves) had booked up a 9 day trip to Javea – a small coastal resort located half way between Alicante and Valencia.

Ahead of our holiday we had waited patiently for the new league fixtures and Champions League draw to be released to see if that potential holiday game would become a reality.

Luckily we had one offering – Valencia v Celta Vigo on our opening weekend in Spain. A slight change of itinerary would see us leave Javea immediately after arriving for a long weekend in the port city of Valencia. Myself and Kev had visited Valencia a few years previous – it’s a fantastic historical city, with a vibrant nightlife, decent beaches, and the added bonus of two top flight football teams (in Valencia and Levante) make it a great location for a summer European football weekend!

An early morning stroll through the City of Arts and Sciences (a huge futuristic educational complex that has to be seen to be believed) leads conveniently into the ‘Jardin del Turia’. This is the famous dry river bed that circulates the old town. Following the diversion of the River Turia around the city, the dry river bed has been converted into landscaped parkland which still follows the course of the old river and makes for a pleasant stroll through picturesque gardens, past water fountains, cafes, outdoor gyms and sports pitches, and under many bridges that cross the river bed into the old town.

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The City of Arts & Sciences (top and middle) and heading into the old town (above)… 

CEL13As you head northwards towards you can veer off to the left at many different points and head into the old town which is well worth a visit. This is where we spent our pre-game build up. It was a baking hot day, 33C, just perfect for some al fresco eating and drinking, but perhaps not for playing top flight football! En route to the Mestalla we felt it only appropriate to stop off at the Colosseum which had been converted into a giant german ‘Oktoberfest’ beer festival – even though it was September!!

As mentioned in my 2008 post (click here), the Mestalla is a classic ground, built in amongst the tight residential streets just off Avenue Aragon. The stadiums steep stands rise majestically above the residential apartment blocks that surround it. Despite looking an impressive stadium on TV, It’s a stadium that has seen better days to be honest, and if it valencianew_frontwasn’t for the clubs financial troubles Valencia would have already been playing in a new state of the art 75,000 seater stadium as far back as 2009. Work on the stadium was stopped back then, but the club have reached an agreement with a Spanish banking conglomerate which insured the financial security to resume work again on the new ground (see photo right). It is estimated that the project will be completed in time for the 2014-15 season.

We turned up at the Mestalla about an hour before kick off and easily managed to pick up tickets from the kiosks located on the south west corner of the stadium. We paid 20 euros for tickets in the tribune Sur – the middle tier behind the goal. Cheap as chips for what turned out to be a great view of the game!

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The steep sided exterior of the Mestalla…

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A Robin and a Shrimper outside the Mestalla!…..

CEL4As kick off approached the sun was still scorching hot – well above 30C – and our seats were fully exposed to the afternoon sun. We felt sorry for an English lad that was sat next to us, who’d not only made a school boy error by dragging his ginger haired missus to the game, but also by treating her to tickets in the sunbathing section! The first 20 minutes was only spoiled by the constant whingeing of the aforementioned ginger female who was beginning to burn up and turn into a lobster midway through the first half!

The baking hot conditions led to a somewhat laid back feel inside the ground, with only the small ultras section located at the opposite end seemingly bothered about creating an atmosphere. They gave it a good go considering the sweltering conditions and were more vociferous than on our last visit here against Mallorca back in 2008. We were even treated to the Valencian ‘Poznan’ midway through the second half:

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The Curva Nord doing the ‘Poznan’…

Despite an early goal for Valencia from Feghouli in the 4th minute, the first half was actually dominated by Celta Vigo. In particular their right back Hugo Mallo had a stormer of a first half as he ruined the Valencian left side. Time and time again he created space out wide and supplied dangerous crosses for the Celta Vigo forwards. Although Celta Vigo equalised pretty quickly through Cabral on 16 minutes, they couldn’t convert their relentless first half pressure into what would have been a deserved half time lead.

Half time was a welcome break for the home side and a chance for Valencia coach Erneste Valverde to earn his corn as he re-organised his team to alleviate the constant threat from the Celta Vigo right side. The second half was like watching a completely different game, and finally Valencia began to look like their ‘top four’ La Liga billing. An early second half strike from Sissoko on 50 minutes settled the home team down, and from then on it was plain sailing. With Celta Vigo rarely troubling, Valencia eased through the rest of the match at a canter. The win was their first of a new La Liga season that had already seen them face Real Madrid and Barcelona in their first 3 games. The three points no doubt eased a bit of pressure off the players as they now get ready to face Bayern Munich away in the Champions League – it doesn’t get much tougher than that at the beginning of a new season!

Att: 37,000

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