World Cup: Paper Round: Polish farce 'like something out of a sitcom'

'Farce and Fury' reads the backpage of the Times today as the papers focus on England's woe in Poland and Serbia.

World Cup: Paper Round: Polish farce 'like something out of a sitcom'

View photo

Early Doors is going to tackle the events in Serbia so here in Paper Round we will round up the reaction to the events in Poland with the Guardian comparing the absurd evening to a famous episode of the classic BBC comedy The Likely Lads, where the characters try to avoid an England result so they can watch the highlights that night only to then discover it was washed out.

Many of the papers focused on the fans that travelled to Poland for the game and how they would be the ones who would really suffer.

While others criticised the Poles for not closing the roof when rain started to batter the Polish capital.

Here is how the papers covered the debacle.


The Guardian: Warsaw hosts comic scenes and repeat of Likely Lads plot

Philip Cornwall (who travelled as a fan): As the water filled our shoes it was no longer a race to get to the ground but to get to the safety of a pub near the suburban rail station, in case a miracle happened – and to be the first in conversations here and with friends back home to mention Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, as life imitated the art of James Bolam, Rodney Bewes and Brian Glover…While Poles translated their TV pundits for us we were soon following the online coverage from back home and it, too, was using the language of comedy. It was farcical, we were told, a joke. It was difficult not to smile as we watched the absurd pitch inspections and felt relieved we hadn't made it all the way to the ground.


The Times: Forecast: a lot of angry fans, mixed with chaos

Matt Dickinson: I could not have predicted anything this farcical, but I could have told them the weather forecast. It was there on the internet on Monday: dark raindrops falling from a dark cloud. Heavy rain predicted for Warsaw. Pack a coat, I thought. And if it was that simple for me, you would have thought that someone in even the semi-competent world of planning international football matches would have thought to close the roof at the National Stadium yesterday. “We knew there would be heavy rain but we could not 100 per cent predict the downpour,” Agnieszka Olejkowska, a spokeswoman for the Polish FA, said. But this was not asking them to be Nostradamus, simply to check the weather. The jeers from angry supporters, especially the 2,500 England fans who had taken time off work, spent hard-earned cash and planned this trip for months, made clear what they thought of that excuse. It could only have been more insulting if, like the wrong type of snow on the train lines, the fans were told this was the wrong type of rain.


The Sun: Roof (Noun: External upper covering of a stadium that keep rain out). Goof (Verb: Blunder, to make a huge error).

Steven Howard: The only person to come out of the Great Warsaw Flood with any credit was the stadium DJ. For the bit of mischief when he played U2’s Beautiful Day as the rain lashed down and strong men headed for the boats. The DJ aside, the rest of the Polish FA proved themselves to be a right shower last night. The numbskulls at FIFA were not far behind them — not that that comes as any great surprise. If either of these two organisations had showed one iota of common sense last night you would have been reading a match report of the Poland-England World Cup qualifier in this space rather than a discourse on the state of the weather. But common sense is not a quality that abounds in football.


The Daily Telegraph: Pythonesque slide from the sublime to the ridiculous

Paul Hayward: For reasons of protocol, mechanics or sheer incompetence, the button that would have saved Polish football from mortification remained unpushed. The only water cleared from the pitch was in the boots of the England backroom staff who splashed across the swamp. A bit more was removed in the hair and on the tracksuit top of Roy Hodgson, who surveyed the scene with headmasterly disdain. “This is Monty Python,” said Graham Taylor, the former England manager. Python, though, would have hated the sense of drift. They would have done something funny in the middle of the tedious slide to postponement.


The Independent: Warsaw Washout

Sam Wallace: The National Stadium in Warsaw is an impressive sight, overlooking the river Wisla from the east shore and at night the red and white panels that adorn its sides are lit up in a random sequence, a tribute to a modern, capable Poland. Last night it was the scene of an utter shambles and an embarrassment to that same modern Poland that had successfully co-hosted a European Championship with Ukraine this summer. The Polish crowd chanted "Thieves, thieves" in reference to the Polish Football Association (PZPN) and jeered when the Italian referee tried forlornly to test the ball out on the waterlogged surface. Just imagine for a moment the utter scorn and fury that would be visited on the heads of the English Football Association if a similar saga took place at Wembley Stadium.


Daily Mirror: You can't handle the roof

Oliver Holt: The deluge grew more intense. The rain bounced even higher off the waterlogged surface. What had started off as a grave embarrassment for the Polish authorities was turning into a farce. The England players changed back into their track suits. They knew there was no way the game could be played. There was still no official announcement by 10pm local time. In the stadium, the fans’ restlessness turned to anger. There was no defensible reason for the delay. Ironically, the decision was announced just as the rain stopped. For a match to be cancelled because of a waterlogged pitch at a stadium with a roof feels like a bad joke.


Daily Express: Washout

John Dillion: Football fans - especially English ones - are good at gallows humour, but a serious shambles took place here in the sodden Polish capital. This was ridiculous and unnecessary, with all the technology in place to prevent such a wash-out. The torrential sheets of water which forced the postponement had been forecast. But no decision was taken to close the high-tech roof. This sparked as much fury among the home following as it did with the travelling English supporters, who were only kept informed of developments via texts from back home because the information being broadcast inside the ground was late and confused.


Daily Star: Water Farce!

David Woods: Late last night the roof was due to be closed and work began on drying the pitch. But fans were left furious at the cock-up. Warren Sadler, from Southend, said: “We’re on a chartered flight with a group of 12, and it’s probably cost £400 or so in total, plus the time off work that we’ve all taken. “We were up at 3am to fly out, and we fly back at 3am on Wednesday, so them rearranging for the afternoon is no good to us. We won’t be here.” Richard Clark, a service manager from Nottingham, said: “A game in a major FIFA competition in a stadium built for a competition this year being called off because of the weather. It’s absolutely crazy.”


Daily Mail: Roof falls in on Pourland

Martin Samuel: This is what happens when you let every good plumber leave the country. No doubt they were ringing around desperately at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Tuesday night. 'Of course, Aleksy! Why didn't I think of him before? No, not that Aleksy. Aleksy Pawinski. No, he's good. Yes, you do remember him. Twenty four hour service, no job too large or small. Little yellow van. He knew something about drainage. Give him a call.'….When the game was called off, it was to the surprise of none. We reconvene at 5pm local time today, by which time the Polish hope to have a handyman on site in case of any unforeseen leaks or crises. There’s a fella called Tomasz coming from Shepherd’s Bush, apparently.

View comments (28)