The textile industry is intrinsically linked with RTS Widzew Lodz. This is a city where over 170 buildings are adorned with murals which makes it the largest urban gallery in Poland.
Like the rest of the city murals are visible around the district of Widzew; some dedicated to the local football team.
Many of the murals in Lodz have been emerging for years making the city a contemporary outdoor urban gallery. But it is not only of graffiti, but also all kinds of installations on building walls or murals on disused factory exteriors. Sometimes these murals are made of metals parts, used car parts, textile fragments, mirrors and even plants.
A recent mural celebrating 40 years since the first Polish championship win in 1981 – 40 lat od pierwszeigo mistrzostwa polski.
The club name comes from the name of a city district called Widzew. The RTS aspect of the club name stands for Workers’ Sports Association (Robotnicze Towarzystwo Sportowe).
This was a workers club – founded by Polish workers and German industrialists who were employees of a Widzew textile manufactor called WIMA.
Back in the late 1960s the club was considered a local, district team that had always played in the lower leagues in the city of Łódź.
However, some of those at the club had a different opinion and ambition. They dreamed of building the best football club in Poland and one that would challenge Europe’s giants.
A large mural commemorating one of the club’s greatest ever players – Włodzimierz Wojciech Smolarek located on avenue Józefa Piłsudskiego.
In a very short period of time, Widzew Łódź transformed from a small, district club into one of the biggest names in the history of Polish football. A club whose roots date as far back as to when there was no Poland on the map of Europe.
The 1970’s and 1980’s were an impressive series of successes for Widzew Lodz footballers.
They won the Polish championship twice (1981, 1982) and were runner-up five times. The club also won the Polish Cup in 1985 and regularly played in UEFA competition, reaching in 1983, under the leadership of Władysław Żmuda the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup.
Lodz is a city with a complex industrial history; a history that passes through an era when Widzew Lodz went from a small local sports team to being one of the most known names in European football.
In the fallow years after many factories closed the club has fallen on hard times. But in the modern era they find themselves back in the Polish Extra class – Ekstraklasa and are a thriving football club once again.
History can be expressed through various channels and in Lodz it is is clear that its industrial and football heritage is realised starkly via its street art. In Lodz its common to see the term ‘regenerating Urban space into modern ecosystems’ and the football clubs of the city are a microcosm of that.
Old traditional clubs that have previously ageing space have been redeveloped into football teams with modern stadium arenas.
Even the WIMA Widzewska Manufaktura – so key to the history of Widzew – is regaining its former glory.
Where once textiles were spun a mixed-use building has been created out of the shell offering offices, apartments for rent and commercial interest including a gastronomic and cultural zones.
Just like the street murals it is a place that also nods to the history of Lodz and its original industrial functions.