City where England plan to get engaged

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Players will come out of isolation at Euro 2012. Robin Scott-Elliot takes a tour round the Krakow hotel and ground the squad will use

The number 15 tram rattles eastwards from the centre of Krakow, Poland's second city, past a cigarette factory and into the satellite town of Nowa Huta, which grew up around the vast Vladimir Lenin steelworks. Eventually it stops outside the Suche Stawy stadium, the modest home of Hutnik, the city's third-biggest club.

A string of poplar trees shields the ground from the main road. They do not hide much, a clubhouse, two small covered stands linked by a low bank of terracing lined with plastic bucket seats. It is the home of a club down on their luck; Hutnik collapsed last year and have been re-formed. A group of the club's female fans even stripped off to pose for a 2011 calendar to raise deperately needed money. It was not a photo-shoot fit for the Women's Institute.

Around that time last summer – they now play in the Polish regional leagues – the first representatives from the Football Association arrived and all of a sudden the club had a somewhat less threadbare route to survival.

England will use the ground and its neighbouring leisure centre for as long as they remain at Euro 2012 next summer (it's booked up to the final). The FA will foot part of the bill, along with the local authority and the tournament organisers, to produce a pitch of international standards – installed by the company that did the same job for the last two World Cups – spruce up the surrounds, currently a mottled swathe of concrete, and refresh the dressing rooms. Unsurprisingly "Come on, England" shone on the scoreboard in red letters yesterday morning.

It has become an English tradition. Qualify in (relative) comfort, bag the best base in the host nation. Get knocked out, come home from the island/castle/isolated five-star resort amid mutterings of discontent while Italy/Brazil/Spain emerge from the local B&B to win the tournament. Next year it will be different, off the pitch at least.

In the wake of the disaster that was South Africa, the FA and Fabio Capello decided on a different approach. From the purpose-built isolation of Rustenburg to "engaging and embracing" Krakow, Poland and Euro 2012. And if the FA needed any comforting over its switch of tack and choice of city – which will not host any matches – then it comes with the presence of the Netherlands and probably Italy also basing themselves here. The Dutch were city-based in South Africa, where they reached the final, while Italy thrived in Germany 2006 when also based in the middle of a city.

The Netherlands have secured one of the city's major stadiums for their training base, but the FA, Capello, Sir Trevor Brooking, Ray Clemence – who may have been informed that Krakow's most famous former resident was also a goalkeeper, although Karol Wojtyla was possibly better known for being Pope John Paul II – and others who have made the two-hour flight to the south of Poland are more than happy with the venue they have chosen. It is similar to the set-up England used in France '98.

A 20-minute drive – at least it is 20 minutes when assisted by police outriders as England will be – into the centre of Krakow is the team's hotel, the Hotel Stary with its €220 (£189)-a-night rooms in a building that dates back to the 15th century. Next door is a nightclub, but it will stay shut while England are in residence. A minute's walk away is the city's scenic main square, the largest in Europe, with horse-drawn carriages lining up for tourists.

It could not be more of a contrast to the pampered isolation of the last World Cup, with a chunk of the city's 1,000 bars and restaurants, swarms of tourists – football and non-football – all but on the doorstep. Capello wants a "relaxed approach" and is happy to see the players spending free time taking in the city's sights, and wearing their own clothes as opposed to branded England gear, rather than remaining cooped up inside the hotel, which has only a roof-top terrace as outside space. The players have been consulted about the choice of training venue and hotel.

"We had strong views coming back from South Africa," said Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England. "We want to fully embrace the tournament and be part of it. We are going to be doing things very, very differently. We want to be good ambassadors for the sport and for the country."

As ever with England it is not just about the team. The mayor of Krakow, Jacek Majchrowski, was given a signed England shirt and then suggested that the WAGs would enjoy the city because "there are lots of nightclubs, restaurants and shops" and that "if they wanted to buy a beautiful fur coat" this was the place to come. A return to an urban base raises the prospect of another Baden-Baden circus, as Rio Ferdinand called it, coming to town. Not so, says the FA; because this is a city rather than a small town and because there will be no "official" WAGs hotel. Partners will be allowed to stay at the team hotel the night after matches.

"It's a big city," said Bevington. "From what Fabio has said he won't have a problem with the players meeting up with their families. We can all refer back to 2006. I would like to think we're not walking into another situation of that nature. We're in a bigger city. Krakow is very different to Baden-Baden. There are a thousand cafes and bars. That means there's plenty of space here for the players to intermingle."

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?