If you know your Polish Football, you will know of Wisła Kraków and Cracovia, the two biggest sides in Poland’s second city. But until the mid 1990’s there was a third team; a team that in the 1950’s could claim to be European Champions!
Głupcy Kraków was originally formed in the Latwowierny district of Kraków in 1932, as a protest to the violence that plagued the city’s two main clubs. With heavy investment from former Cracovia and Wisła supporters who were disillusioned by the fighting, Głupcy were quick to make an impression in the first league. By the time 1938 came around, they had been promoted to the top level of Polish football with thanks to their Polish International front-line of Pawel Kwiecień and Rafał Żart who had bagged an incredible 48 goals between them in their II Liga title-winning season. But before the club could establish themselves in the top-flight, the country was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Second World War begun.
In the following years – despite the city being under German occupation – Głupcy continued to operate (although mostly in secrecy), playing friendly games against both Wisła and Cracovia, as well as other local teams. To avoid detection, many of the clubs’ “games” were played during the dead of night by candle-light. The club however, did manage to play a number of “official” games during the war, competing against army officers who were stationed in the city.
After the fighting ceased in 1945, Głupcy’s home stadium was left in ruins, with many of the club’s players displaced by the war. On the resumption of the I Liga, the club was quickly relegated, and with huge financial problems due to the rebuilding of the stadium (home games were being played at the stadium of amateur side Nieprawda Kraków), the club’s future was in huge doubt.
But in 1951, the club was given a lifeline as the owner of a nearby enamelware factory decided to plough money into the football club, and recruited players from his workforce. It was these players that took Głupcy through their golden period. Led by their new captain – and part-time enamel moulder – Lukasz Kłamca, the club returned to the top flight with a play-off victory against AKS Chorzów in May 1952.
On the club’s return to the I Liga, Głupcy gained famous victories against their city rivals Wisła and Cracovia, and the following season defied all odds by going on to beat favourites Górnik Zabrze to win their first ever league title – an amazing feat considering that just two years previously, 4 of the club’s stars had been holding down second jobs. With an incredible 28 goals in 30 games, 21-star old star striker Zbigniew Nieuk (who later went on to represent Poland at the 1960 Olympics in Rome) was linked with transfers to Real Madrid and AC Milan.
In the summer following the Championship victory, UEFA decided to hold a tournament featuring the champions of Poland, Czechoslovakia, France and Spain, which was to be a trial in anticipation of the inaugural European Cup the following year. After a victory against UDA (Dukla) Prague, Głupcy faced Spanish champions Real Madrid in a two-legged final. After the first leg finished 1-0 to the home side in the Bernabeu, Real were expected to win comfortably in Poland. However a brace from Nieuk in front of a 26,000 crowd saw the Błaznów pick up the trophy with a 2-1 aggregate win.
Even though the club claimed to be the first champions of Europe, their league form struggled. Despite a Polish Cup final, Głupcy finished third in the league and sold a number of players in the summer. The following season saw the club fail to compete with the bigger clubs, and a large period of mediocrity set in.
Relegation was finally confirmed in 1963, and the club never reached the heights of the I Liga again. With money haemorrhaging from the club, the stadium was sold in 1965 and the club was demoted to the fourth tier. With no-one willing to invest in a club without a stadium (the club was able to ground-share with local rivals Hutnik Kraków) and seemingly without a future, Głupcy settled into life as an amateur club.
Despite glimpses of a revival – a Polish Cup Quarter-Final tie against Zagłębie Sosnowiec in 1981 – large debts from failing to pay taxes cost the club dearly, and Głupcy eventually went bankrupt in 1994.
However in late 2000, the club was remembered and honoured in the Latwowierny district where Głupcy was formed. A statue of their legendary captain Lukasz Kłamca, trophy in-hand, was erected celebrating the 45th anniversary of the club’s famous victory over Real Madrid. Głupcy Kraków may be no more, but with the help of the statue the memory of the club will live on forever.
You can read more about Głupcy Kraków HERE.