Ruch Chorzow (Polish pronunciation: [ˈrux ˈxɔʐuf]) is a Polish association football club based in Chorzow, Upper Silesia. It is one of the most successful football teams in Poland: fourteen-time national champions, and three-time winners of the Polish Cup. Currently the team plays in the Polish Third Division. Ruch plays at the Stadion Miejski with a capacity of 9,300 seats. Ruch Chorzow has also had a very successful female handball team (9 times national champions).
The club was founded on 20 April 1920 in Bismarkhuta (German Bismarckhutte, historically Hajduki), one of the many heavily industrialised municipalities in the eastern part of Upper Silesia, a disputed province between Poland and Germany. The main incentive was an appeal of the Polish Plebiscite Committee a few months earlier that led to creation of around one hundred sport associations. It took place in between the first and second Silesian Uprisings, to which the name Ruch is a supposed cover reference. The Polish word ruch is however also a common noun for movement, not as strongly associated with Polishness as names of many other clubs established after the appeal (like Polonia, Powstaniec etc.). On the other hand, the club's first match, a 3:1 win against Orzel Jozefowiec, was played on 3 May 1920, the day of the first Polish Constitution. After the Upper Silesia plebiscite and the third Silesian Uprising in 1921 Bismarkhuta became part of Poland and the Silesian Voivodeship. The municipality was renamed to Wielkie Hajduki on 1 January 1923, hence the club was known as Ruch Wielkie Hajduki until another merger into the town Chorzow (created in 1934 from amalgamation of Krolewska Huta, Chorzow and Hajduki Nowe) in the early 1939, with a short period in 1923 after the fusion with the older local German club Bismarckhutter Ballspiel Club, when it was known as Ruch BBC Wielkie Hajduki. After the merger the team played its games on the former BBC's pitch known as na Kalinie. The popular nickname of the club Niebiescy (The Blues) clung to the team already in the 1920s.
In autumn of 1920 Ruch won the promotion to the nascent Silesian Klasa A (see also: Lower Level Football Leagues in Interwar Poland). The Blues were third out of fourteen teams in its first season, unfinished due to the third Silesian Uprising. The next year Ruch won the championship of the Silesian Klasa A and represented the region in the 1922 Polish Football Championship. In 1924 the club finished second in the regional top league, behind AKS Krolewska Huta, before 1924 considered German and known as Verein fur Rasenspiele Konigshutte, the first team Ruch had developed a local rivalry with. In 1925 the Silesian Klasa A did not play, instead Stanislaw Flieger's Cup took place, ultimately won by Ruch, which gave the side a start in the only interwar Polish Cup competition in 1926. On 4 July 1926 Jozef Sobota, before 1920 a BBC's player, became the first Ruch's player (and the fourth from Upper Silesia) of the Polish National Team, who also scored a goal (against Estonia). In the same year, two weeks after the national Cup Ruch won for the second time the regional Klasa A, firmly establishing itself as one of the strongest football clubs in this densely populated region and as such it was among the founding clubs of the Polish national league in 1927. In 1933 Ruch won its first Championship as the first side from Silesia, with all the players who were born not further as a few kilometers from the na Kalinie pitch. Thus the first truly golden era began. The local steel mill (since 1934 known as Huta Batory) began to financially support the side. In the winter of 1933 the most noteworthy players such as Edmund Giemsa, Teodor Peterek and Gerard Wodarz were joined by legendary Ernst Wilimowski, bought from 1. FC Kattowitz, who with Peterek and Wodarz were collectively nicknamed the three kings and helped to win another 4 championships (1934, 1935, 1936, 1938). On 1 November 1934 the club, as the last in the league, employed its first coach, Gustav Wieser. The side was also a leader in the unfinished season 1939. The successes rendered the club the most popular in the voivodeship and accelerated building of the new stadium in the years 1934-1935, the current Stadion Miejski.
After the German occupation of Poland in 1939, the club was officially discontinued but unofficially was simply renamed Bismarckhutter SV 99 and joined the Gauliga Oberschlesien in 1941. The club was officially re-established after the war. In 1947 Ruch won the regional championships. In 1948, under communist pressure (Stalinisation), the club was renamed Unia Chorzow, in 1955 it became Unia-Ruch, and finally in 1956 returned to the name Ruch. As Unia the club finished third in the first season of the reactivated national league in 1948 and in 1950 as the second team. In 1951 the club won the reactivated Polish Cup edition and were rewarded with the title of the National Champions (even though they were only sixth in the league). The next two years the club also won the title, first in 1952 after final against Polonia Bytom, another local bitter rival, and in 1953 after finishing the league on the top position. The most renowned player of that era was Gerard Cieslik, who dedicated his whole life to the club and became its icon.
The years 1957-1966 are considered a lost decade, completely overshadowed by the successes of the new biggest regional rival, Gornik Zabrze, even though the club won the championships in 1960. A record of its kind in the national football history as the team consisted of only 14 players, 11 of whom originated in the town of Chorzow. The turn of the tide came in the season 1967/68 when Ruch won the 10th championship title breaking Gornik Zabrze's streak of five consecutive titles. Another golden era for the Blues arrived in the early 1970s with Michal Vican as a coach. In 1972/73 the club finished second, in 1973/73 they won the only double in the history (the championship and the cup) and advanced up to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. In 1974/75 they again won the league and qualified to the quarter-finals of the European Cup. The most praised players of that times were Bronislaw Bula, Zygmunt Maszczyk and Joachim Marx.
These successes were followed by a bad financial plight and mediocre results until 1978/79, when the club won its 13th Championship title. In the 1980s the club was one of the poorest in the national league. The worst came in the season 1986/87, when the club, the only one in the country which so far played all the seasons of the official national top league, was relegated to the second tier. Especially shifty were the circumstances of the relegation decider, against Lechia Gdansk, when Ruch's goalkeeper Janusz Jojko scored an infamous and bizarre own goal and the club lost the game 1:2. After one year Ruch returned to the top flight as winners of the seconed league and won the 14th Championship title, as the second freshly-promoted club in the national history (the first was Cracovia in 1937), a feat, especially as it was still one of the poorest clubs in the top tier and over half of the players were home-grown, including e.g. Dariusz Gesior and the most renowned Krzysztof Warzycha, who was also, with 24 goals, the top scorer of the season.
After the political turnover in Poland in 1989 Ruch did not fare well for the first two seasons. The money from the transfer of Krzysztof Warzycha to Panathinaikos A.O. finished quickly. The team began to compete with the top teams first in 1991/92 finishing in the fifth spot, fourth the next year, furthermore the second team (Ruch II) reached the Polish cup final. Ruch was demoted for the second time in the history in the season 1994/95. As before the stay in the second tier lasted one season. While playing in the second league Ruch won its third Polish Cup trophy. In 1998 Ruch reached the final of the UEFA Intertoto Cup and in the season 1999/2000 finished third in the league. The crisis came in 2002/2003 when the club was relegated from the top tier for the third time and in the next season was for the first time in history in danger of being demoted to the third tier, however the club won the relegation play-offs against Stal Rzeszow (1:1, 2:0). In 2005 the club was restructured as spolka akcyjna. The Blues won the promotion to the top flight in the season 2006/2007. In 2009 the side reached Polish Cup final, the next year The Blues finished third in the league. The best season in the recent history was 2011/2012 when Ruch was vice-champion (only 1 point behind the champions, Slask Wroclaw) and reached the final of the national cup (lost 0:3 against Legia Warsaw).
This page also has a version in other languages: Рух (Хожув) (русский)