“Do you know where I can play now?” do you know In the buuundsl, in the bundse, well … in the Bundesliga – Marciniak came out with difficulty. He was drunk but answered my questions confidently. At that time, he played a little outside of German football, journalists from Poland called him, he was happy to talk, why not, it’s good to be reminded. It was 1997. Only he had the idea that a tired, carefree 31-year-old footballer could still achieve something, that if he really tried, he could even play in his dream of the 1 Bundesliga.
Marciniak’s first match with Hungary
Ten years ago, he was like a young god, at least at this time. In May 1987, Poles played in Budapest against Hungary. An important match in qualifying for the European Championship. After an amazing draw with Cyprus (0:0) and a disappointing defeat away to Greece (0:1), our team could not afford to lose points, but the Hungarians with the great Lajos Detari in the squad were favored. Coach Wojciech Łazarek bet World Cup medalist Włodzimierz Smolarek in the attack, and this time Jan Furtok, who lost in the last two matches, did not play with him, and the first player from Śląsk Wrocław: 21-year-old Dariusz Marciniak.
In the 27th minute, after playing a corner kick, the ball hit Dariusz Wdowczyk. Legia’s left defender hit a strong shot in the danger area. He rubbed against the opponents, but somehow he got to Marciniak. He received the ball perfectly, turned and from eight meters left footed it into the far corner of the Hungarian goal. Intuition, reflexes, ingenuity and technique in one. Not a shadow of paralyzing pressure. Like having fun in the neighborhood backyard. He did it as a rookie, not a representative. 1:0 to Poland and although it ended badly, because in a crazy match we lost 3:5, Marciniak showed up beautifully at the Nepstadion. The main road to good work has just opened.
The return of Marciniak
When he returned to Wrocław, his back may have hurt from the beating. There was no end to Opor’s compliments, and he just smiled cheekily – well, he showed a piece of football to the Magyars, he showed. The coach of Śląsk, Henryk Apostel, also gave him a hand and praised him for this unconventional debut. “Darek, do you even know why you played so well in Budapest? Because you have this pressure in your ass “- the coach threw us. And I think he hit the spot. Darek was able to keep distance from many things, and certainly with football. He was not at all burdened by the “tenner” he had on his shirt against the Hungarians. Luz helped him on the field, worse that he often rested. Very often.
Marciniak in the great Widzew
He was not yet 18 years old when he came to the great Widzew. His father, Zygmunt Marciniak, came from Kalisz, but settled in Rzeszów. There he was a valued league player, for many years he played in Rzeszów Stal, together with Marian Ostafinski and Jan Domarski. The son wanted to follow in his footsteps, he also hit the ball on Chuma. Everyone gasped for joy. That talent, which is not enough, that scoring goals is in his genes, that he will surpass his father in a short time, that he will be three times better than Domarski.
The offer from Widzew was supposed to be the gateway to a good job. He couldn’t do better, after all, the year before Widzew had played Juventus in the semi-finals of the European Cup! The young man has already played in the Ekstraklasa with world championship medalists – Józef Młynarczyk, Roman Wójcicki, Włodzimierz Smolarek and new stars of the league – Jerzy Wijas, Wiesław Wraga, Dariusz Dziekanowski. He may have turned his head and Marciniak turned back, or rather he made a noise. He was only 18 years old, and yet he willingly looked into the glass, got into a shadowy company, lost somewhere for a long time, which of course got training and sports form. For the whole year, he played only three times in Widzew, everyone was waiting for the development, but Darek seemed to hesitate in the expected development. President Ludwik Sobolewski understood that if the boy did not stop his bad behavior immediately, he would be lost. He decided that he should still try to play in Ekstraklasa, but in another club. The young man needed help, in a very human way.
Marciniak and bottles under the covers
The transfer to Śląsk Wrocław, along with military service, was supposed to be salvation. There he had to learn real life and discipline. There is no such thing. He faced new problems, or rather old ones. Prayers and threats did not help. As part of the meditation (literally and figuratively), the little boy was sent to the camp to experience the hard life of a soldier, but even there he did not lose his bad habits. Friends, who never missed him, brought him alcohol. He was protected, but he could fool his guards like opponents on the field. In the evening he slept politely, and in the morning he woke up drunk. He drank after the light went out, hiding his head and the bottle under the covers. Marciniak’s life in Wrocław glitters with anecdotes. According to one of them, once, together with several friends who also served in the army, he had a drinking party in … a tank.
– Lived in Kuźniki, near Zbyszek Mandziejewicz and Mirek Drączkowski. They tried to look at him, but where? He was invisible to them too. He had his own company, which he could not get rid of – says Waldemar Tęsiorowski.
Of course, Marciniak also played football and often to such an extent that everyone at the club had a soft spot for him. While on the field, he turned into a strong man, impressed with his technique, he had great control of the ball, he didn’t care that he had opponents on his back who played badly against him out of desperation.
– We laughed that Darek must have an iron, because all those kicks did not interest him – says Tęsiorowski.
Finally, Marciniak exceeded all standards. After the league match against ŁKS (2: 1) he celebrated the victory so fast that sitting behind the steering wheel was the worst stupid idea. A ride in a big Fiat quickly ended at a pole on Grabiszyńska Street. He was rushed to the hospital with a concussion. In Silesia it was completed.
He tried to break the bad addiction in Zagłębie Lubin. So if he was a star there, that he won the Polish championship. – Two years of drinking in Silesia caused bone decay. Darek ended up in the hospital in Lubin and then I visited him. On his knees, he swore amicably that he would never find a glass again. He kept his oath: from then on, he drank from a glass or a bottle, wrote journalist Tomasz Jagodziński in the book “Cwaniaczki, nie podsiadłi” published in 1993.
Marciniak: I drank because I was alone
Throughout his career, Marciniak was like a restless soul, constantly searching for a place in the world: in Belgium, France, Germany, and again in Poland. Finally, he arrived in Kalisz, in his father’s hometown. He became the playing coach of KKS Kalisz. The last journalist he met was Krzysztof Świercz, who used to work, among others, in “Fakt” and in “Przegląd Sportowy”. It was a few weeks before the death of the football player. The published text had the important title: “I drank because I was alone”.
– We talked in a small bar, where he was a hero to everyone. To begin with, he made it clear that he would not drink again, but 10 minutes later he ordered himself “one”. And it was just beginning – recalls editor Świercz.
Marciniak was unstoppable. Not on the field or off it. The golden and lost child of Polish football died suddenly on April 27, 2003 in Kalisz of a heart attack.