We focus on FIFA World Cup-bound, Poland in our latest exploration of Rovers ties with teams at the FIFA World Cup.
In some cases these connections are strong and multiple; in others they are tenuous, at best. Poland are competing in their eighth World Cup Finals and they were semi finalists in 1974 and 1982.
One name in the provisional Polish squad for the World Cup Finals has played League football against Rovers.
Wojciech Szczȩsny, born in Warsaw in April 1990, was in goal for Brentford when they claimed a goalless draw against Rovers in April 2010. A former Legia Warsaw goalkeeper, he has 33 full caps to his name.
Alan Ball and the Poland Connection
Alan Ball (1945-2007), a terrier like midfield dynamo at the heart of England’s midfield, was sent off in June 1973 when playing for England against Poland in Chorzow.
England were under pressure to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Finals, having qualified automatically in both 1966 and 1970, and this 2-0 defeat went some way towards their subsequent failure to do so; the pressure told on Ball who was dismissed for grabbing the throat of Lesław Ćmikiewicz.
He became, after Alan Mullery, only the second man to be shown a red card whilst playing for England in a full international. In January 1983 Ball arrived at Eastville in time to play in 17 League matches for Rovers, scoring twice.
During his career, he was the first man to be sent off twice in England’s colours, a record subsequently equalled by David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, as he had also been dismissed once for the U-23 side in Vienna in 1965.
In all, 11 men born in Poland have played against Rovers in Football League fixtures.
The first was Felix Starocsik (1920-2009), who appeared in Northampton Town’s 2-0 win against Rovers in February 1952.
Since then, Ryszard Kowenicki (Oldham Athletic), Bartosz Tarachulski (Yeovil Town), Dariusz Dziekanowski (Bristol City), the virtually unpronounceable Przemysław Kázimierczak (Accrington Stanley), Jarosław Fojut (Luton Town), Marek Saganowski (Southampton), Wojciech Szczȩsny (Brentford), Artur Krysiak (Yeovil Town) and Alex Cisak (Orient) all opposed Rovers, before Michał Źyro played for Charlton Athletic against Rovers in April 2018.
A Polish Miscellany
One early opponent with experience in Poland was Sid Kimpton (1887-1968).
Kimpton scored three goals against Rovers in six Southern League fixtures between the sides between 1911 and 1914. After World War One, he was a coach in Poland, working at Polonia in the 1922/23 season before moving on to Cracovia Krakow.
Marco Reich played for Walsall against Rovers in September 2008 and also played in the Polish Cup Final; the holder of a full cap for Germany, he scored three goals in 15 games with Jagiellonia Białystok and appeared for them in the Cup Final in May 2010 in Bydgoszcz, when they defeated Pogoń Szczecin 1-0.