TSAR Wars; Poland Desperate for Victory over Historic Foes Russia as 400 Years of Conflict Is Squeezed into One Game
Byline: ANTHONY HAGGERTY
BACK in 96 a couple of English buffoons sang about 30 years of hurt and got to No.1. In Warsaw, however, Three Lions was a flop and little wonder.
For Poles, 30 years of hurt is mild toothache compared with the FOUR HUNDRED years of bitterness and bile that has festered between them and Russia.
As the nations prepare to do battle in Euro 2012 tonight midfielder Kamil Grosicki insists Poland's players will spill blood for the cause.
He said: "We all know what a game against Russia means. You have to leave your guts out on the pitch."
Poles nurture resentments towards Russia. The Tsars once carved up the country and kept the best bits for themselves.
In 1944, in one of the darkest battles of the Second World War, Soviet forces allowed the Nazis to decimate Polish resistance during the tragic Warsaw Uprising.
And the fact that tonight's clash of the nations takes place on Russia Day pours fuel on the fires.
Russian fans will mark the 22nd anniversary of the end of Soviet law by marching through the Polish capital to the national stadium.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has encouraged his people to march alongside the Russians to mark the day that "finally buried the Soviet Union".
In Scots terms, that's like asking the Green Brigade to plough their holiday pay into the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund.
The march has sparked outrage and Polish police are on high alert, especially after videos of Russian fans beating up stewards during Friday's 4-1 win over the Czech Republic in Wroclaw were posted on the web.
With the fans also accused of displaying a nationalist flag and throwing fireworks on to the pitch, the Russians are walking a tightrope and fear they will be deducted points by UEFA.
Poland supporters have a fearsome reputation themselves and recent history has done nothing to ease tension.
Two years ago President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and scores of Polish leaders were killed when their plane crashed on approach to fog-veiled Smolensk in western Russia.
The incident is still viewed with suspicion by Poles and their media is doing nothing to cool emotions.
One newspaper carried a front-page mocked-up picture of coach Franciszek Smuda charging on horseback in the uniform of Jozef Pilsudski, the commander of Polish troops who defeated the Boilshevik Army in 1920.
Midfielder Grosicki added: "From what we saw in their opening match Russia are going to want to attack us. …