Traditional giants often fall on hard times. For every Barcelona there is a Notts Forest or Glasgow Rangers; club’s which enjoyed huge success and then fall into the lower leagues.
In the case of the latter (Rangers) then there is hope for Ruch Chrozow yet and cause for optimism amongst its large traditional fan base.
Currently Ruch plays in the Polish Third Division (currently named eWinner II liga) but they are one of the most successful football teams in Poland. Fourteen-time national champions, and three-time winners of the Polish Cup Ruch play at the Stadion Ruchu (Ruch Stadium). This stadium is a throwback to the socialist stadiums of the postwar period. Also known as Stadion Przy Cichej thanks to its location on Ulicha Cicha it is just a short walk from Chorzow Batory station and remains a serious, open bowl with numerous distinctive features.
Chorzów is one of the central cities of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Area a huge area that has over 2 million people. Chorzów Batory – formerly Bismarckhütte, Hajduki Wielkie and in the war years Königshütte-Bismarck – is the district of Chrozow where the ground is located and where the foundations of the football club lie.
After World War I the territory became disputed between Germany and Poland and had witnessed three Silesian Uprisings as well as a plebiscite which settled the area as part of Poland in 1922 The municipality of Hajduki Wielkie (Chorzow Batory) was merged with the town of Chorzów on 1 April 1939.
Ruch Chorzow were formally Ruch Wielkie Hajduki.
Once the Germans left Chrozow became a blossoming area of Polish pride and industrial work. Ruch essentially means ‘forward’ or ‘movement’ and the club’s foundations can be seen in the spirit of the numerous Polish sports associations Klub Sportowy which were formed in the area after 1918.
The popular nickname of the club Niebiescy (The Blues) clings to the team still as it did between the wars. But the clubs golden era was the 1970’s when the double was won and they progressed to the QF of the UEFA Cup.
In 1974/75 they again won the title and qualfiied for the QF of the European Cup. Many of the great players of the time are immortalised at one end of the current Ul.Cicha Stadium.
Time has not been kind to Ruch since the fall of communism in 1989. During the 1990’s the club dropped to the second tier but still managed to win its third Polish Cup trophy in 1996. In 1998 Ruch reached the final of the UEFA Intertoto Cup and in the season 1999/2000 finished third in the league.
The fan base is not what it once was at Ruch.
However, it is still recognised in this part of Poland that Gornik Zabrze and Ruch Chorzow are two of the best supported sides. The cities of Zabrze and Chorzow are to Katowice what Motherwell or Paisley are to Glasgow.
In nearby Katowice it’s typical to see football fan graffiti dedicated to Ruch or Gornik rather than GKS Katowice which is the major city in the Silesian Voivodeship which tells any visitor to this part of Poland who famous the two club’s remain.
See images from Ruch here