Wed, Nov 07, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Poland’s oldest soccer fan dies at ripe old age of 103

AFP, WARSAW

Poland’s oldest-known soccer fan has passed away at the aged of 103, just weeks after attending his last-ever match at his beloved Sandecja Nowy Sacz, the club said on Monday.

“The board of the club extends its condolence and deepest sympathies to his family. Jan Plachta, the oldest fan of Sandecja, will remain in our memory forever,” it said in a statement.

Plachta last turned out at the second division club’s Father Wladyslaw Augustynek Stadium on Sept. 1 for a league game against Olimpia Grudziadz, which Sandecja won 2-0.

He started going to the White and Blacks’ matches after moving to the area in 1934 to work in a railway engineering firm.

Based in the town of Nowy Sacz in the mountainous south of Poland, Sandecja have never been a big-name club, but have managed to climb from the fourth to the second tier over the past decade.

They managed to mark Plachta’s 100 birthday by launching a 2009-2010 season run that was to see their best-ever finish, third in the table.

They are just one year younger than their late fan, having been founded in 1910.

Plachta was also older than the Polish republic itself, having been born eight years before it won independence from the empires of Austria, Russia and Germany, at a time when soccer provided an outlet for patriotism.

“I started watching Sandecja in the 1970s. Jan was already a fan with a long, long record under his belt. Even after a loss, he always looked on the bright side. He always believed that the next game would end in a win,” local journalist Jerzy Cebula told the Polish news agency PAP.

The club’s former spokesman Dariusz Grzyb said Plachta’s love of the game has always been an inspiration.

“I was in awe of the shape he was in, despite his advanced age,” Grzyb said.

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