Milan Pacanda – Lost and Found

16145403_10158099053620501_1020265220_o

It’s 8.30 on a Sunday morning, I am on a train and my groundhop today is to see Vicemilice in the 8th tier of the Czech Football League. It’s been on my bucket list for a while. In addition to this I am going to watch a 38 year factory worker, by the name of Milan Pacanda play football. I am not even sure you even care.

 The chances are that most of you have never heard of Milan Pacanda, he could have been a name in European football, up there with the Nedveds, Poborskys and Bergers of Czech Football fame – he once played at Old Trafford in a Champions League game, oh and in a successful Intertoto Cup run for Brno, but that is about as big as it got for Pacanda. It could have been so, so different.

In 1999, two years after making his debut for ‘hometown club’ Boby Brno, Pacanda was riding on the crest of the wave. He’d started the season extremely well, playing just behind the striker in an improving Brno team and scoring for fun. Scouts would turn up wherever ‘Paci’ (pronounced Patsy) played.

Such was his reputation in the game that Bologna had agreed terms with the young striker, then disaster struck.

After putting his side in front  away at Zizkov, he went for a ball with Viktoria defender Jan Zakopal, a player he’d played with at junior level for Czech national team, it was a ball that only one man could win and Zakopal knew that, so knowing he would come off second best made a decision which would change the course of Pacanda’s career – he went for the striker’s knee  destroying the ligaments and putting a bright career on hold. To this day, Zakopal (English translation ‘to bury’) insists he went for the ball, but those of us there see it completely differently. It was a horrendous challenge.

The following winter after five months of treatment, Paci made his first attempt to comeback only to damage his knee in his very first training session, putting him out of action for a further year. It was at this time he sank into despair, possibly depression,  finding solace in the casinos and bars of Brno and with it an addiction to fruit machines and alcohol. In addition to this he purchased an expensive car on credit and promptly crashed it while drunk, damaging his shoulder.

With a huge debt hanging over him he was pulled from the mire by his mentor and football father Karel Jarusek, who invited the footballer to move into his family home. I believe, but it is still unclear to me, that his agent cleared Pacanda’s debt. It was also at this moment they asked him if he wanted a second chance. Apparently, the footballer without saying a word just nodded. Jarusek brought in a strict regime and  with it a curfew. He trained hard and was allowed just one night out a week, on a Friday, but had return to Jarusek’s home by 10pm.

A year and a half at that disastrous afternoon at Zizkov, Paci returned to the pitch with two pins in his knee and a slight limp as he ran. The coach at the time, Pavel Tobias, brought him back slowly and it wasn’t until the following season that he began to make the starting eleven.

He stayed at Brno for a further 3 seasons, forming a fantastic partnership with Libor Dosek. The goals returned and helping his team to rise up the league and reach the semi-finals of the now defunct Intertoto Cup. Off the pitch things were also a little better, although not without incident. I particularly remember an incident after one home match – Pacanda and teammates, drinking after a draw with Sigma Olomouc, celebrated by smashing up a billboard outside a restaurant causing 20,000kc worth of damage. While his teammates faced the music, Milan disappeared for a couple of days, missing training. He was dropped for the next match.

Although there were times off the pitch where we saw the old demons returning, 2004 was a great year for the footballer. He married his childhood sweetheart Denisa and in the summer of that year secured 650,00o Euro move to Czech giants Sparta Praha.

His start at Letna was a good one. Under the leadership of Frantisek Straka, he bagged 6 goals in his first 7 games, forming a prolific partnership with Tomas Jun. But the wheels fell off when the coach was sacked and replaced with Jaroslav Hrebik who demanded discipline and order from all his players. Pacanda only ever really listened to two people and Hrebik was not one of them. He soon found himself out of the team and back on the fruit machines and his life began to turn sour. In 2005, he was sent on loan to to Tirol Innsbruck, where he continued to score and rescued the team from what seemed like a certain relegation. Even though he was a popular player with the Austrian side, he found himself back in Czech Republic. For Pacanda, it was the beginning of the end.

He returned to Brno for the start of the 2006 season, however in 3 seasons was to make only 30 appearances for the club,spending part of the time at Zlin and half a season in Kazakhstan. But even during his time abroad, rumours of his growing debt continued to do the rounds.

Pacanda, now becoming a footballing nomad, he signed for Znojmo ,in the MSFL, and things started to look up, he employed a personal coach, shed a few pounds and began the season in fine form. Sadly, another injury, followed by missed training sessions, forced the hand of the club’s management… One rumour was that he would only turn up at the club when he needed money…

“At the beginning of the season he helped us immensely, he looked like a great promise. But gradually his attitude ceased to fulfill our expectations. I am afraid that in the spring he probably will not be with us,” said coach Bohumil Smrček.

“We could only keep  Pacanda if he managed to put his personal life in order and we were at the time willing to help. Unfortunately he does not appreciate the efforts of the club management. Therefore, we have to let him go” said President 1. SC Znojmo Ota Withers.

In an attempt to clear his mounting debt and with collectors regularly calling round for a chat, he moved to East Slovakian team, FK Bodva Moldova, newly promoted to the second tier. Again, the season began promisingly and he was even made captain, but at the end of 2010/11 Pacanda was again without a team.

Surprisingly, his agent managed to persuade newly promoted Znojmo to give him another  chance in the second league. He once again got himself fit and started to impress, notably scoring a brace against Sparta’s reserve team. But the return was again shortlived and the old ‘Paci” appeared and then Milan Pacanda disappeared again, before finding a home at Slovan Rosice and back in the arms of Karel Jarusek.

It was during his time at Rosice, that rumours started to circle about his mental state. I read an article where he bravely admitted suffering from depression and even more worryingly about suicidal thoughts.

In an interview with Czech football magazine Hattrick, Pacanda recalled the moment he was at his lowest.

“I was standing on the tracks and wondering if I should lie down and wait for the next train”

“I was fucked,” he said openly. “But now I take it as a lesson for future life and I feel I am over the worst of it”.

As somebody who loved watching Milan Pacanda play football, I was saddened to hear of him talk about mental health issues that have affected him, but at the same time I’m so pleased he’s been brave enough to talk about it. Not enough of us are able to do that.

I arrived at the Vicemilice pitch  about 15 minutes before kick off (I am not too sure I could call it a stadium) and the first person I was to bump into was Milan, who was chatting away to one of the local fans, while enjoying a prematch cigarette. He eyed me with suspicion (everyone does) as I am sure he knows all the regular faces. I am not too sure why, but I avoided making eye-contact as not to arouse any further interest and made my way to the bar.

16129896_10158099053680501_1489873898_o

A few minutes later, I heard one of the supporters say that Vicemilice were in trouble, Paci didn’t want to play, he was complaining of a bad back. Naturally, it was just prematch talk and  Pacanda took to the field after the shortest warm up in the history of warm ups. A couple of stretches,  an individual crossbar challenge, which he managed at the first attempt and then another cigarette before lining up with his teammates.

I won’t bore you too much longer with details of the game, only to tell you of two Milan Pacanda moments which sum up the talent of the man.. In the first half, he picked up the ball just inside the away team’s half. Heavily marked, he dragged the ball away from two opponents and played a stunning through ball for the opening goal.  You never lose it, do you?

16122199_10158099053660501_764373376_o

In the second half, he scored his only goal of the game, latching on to a pass from midfield he lobbed the goalkeeper from 25yards, another piece of skill, which would further show the quality he has.

Somebody once said of the player that if Pele belongs in a museum then Pacanda belongs on football pitch.  And with Paci breaking into a huge smile after his goal, you would find it difficult with that.

Welcome back, Paci.

 

.

Kunovice

14480495_10154444711891346_7581069297752179084_o

Photo of the flag by Matt “LostBoyo” Harrison

We know when Wingy (the third member of the Blansko Klobasa) can’t make an away game as he ignores all emails regarding the trip, but can any of you possibly think of a better way of spending an autumn Sunday than watching a game between Slovacko B and Blansko in the third tier of Czech football.

Don’t answer that, we are sure you could and enjoyed your Sunday morning pottering around Bahaus.

So, while the Wingster was preparing the gardens of Wing Towers for the harsh Moravian winter – myself and  Craggy were on the 7.35 train from Brno main station to Kunovice, excited at the prospect of seeing Blansko halt their slide down the MSFL table. One win from seven has left us sitting one place above the relegation zone. Fortunately, Kromeriz and Lisen are on an equally poor run of form. I will say that again…Fortunately.

photo-1

The MSFL is a completely different kettle of carp to Divize and we can see that everybody involved with the team continue to give their all in keeping Blansko up this season. It’s a hell of challenge, but as fans you can only ask that they work hard and they are certainly doing that.

Kunovice is a small town just on the outskirts of Uherske Hradiste and even though it has a population of just over 5,000, they like to confuse those unfamiliar with the place, by putting two train stations in the town.They are one of many cities, towns an even villages to try this, but we are usually ahead of the game.

There is very little you need to know about Kunovice except that Wikipedia revealed the post office was opened in 1869.

The local football team play in the 7th tier of Czech football, but from 2002 – 2006 played in the 2nd league, a league we’d love to see Blansko play in one day. Their ground, Stadion Na Belince, is now home to Slovacko B, our hosts for the day.

At the train station (one of two), we were met by Matt “LostBoyo” Harrison, a fellow groundhopper, who has recently relocated to Slovakia. He’d already been to see the A team (the Slovacko footballers, not the crack commando unit) the day before and, judging by his tweets and Facebook posts, hadn’t been impressed.

However, what had impressed him was his introduction to the Blansko team, who had also been to the game against Jihlava. Matt had made himself known by shouting Blansko quite loudly. And it quite clearly worked as his next post was a picture of him and our physio/groundsman/goalkeeping coach Sasa.

Anyway, back to Sunday – Opposite the ground we found a bar, which was, if you are not from Czech Republic, surprisingly full for half past nine on a Sunday morning. We, of course joined the party of Kunovice revellers in a prematch beer before heading to the ground.

After paying our 30kc to get in, it became obvious that we were in fact the only Blansko fans present, no Pav the Drum waking the locals up with his erotic drum solos, none of the pensioners who use the free bus ride for a day out, just us and about 100 locals.

We positioned ourselves, with a beer, just to the left of the half-way line and opposite the main stand. As the players lined up to start the game, we got our usual nods of approval from the usual players, who just appreciate us being around.

After the defeat at home to Petrkovice, Zbynek Zboril handed crowd favourite Jakub Splichal and pushed Dan Pospisil further foward at the expense of Chloupek. No Honza (Honza, Honza) as he’s still out injured. God, we need him back.

Slovacko started brightly and created the first chance of the game in the 7th minute, when a shot from Mares was deflected away for a corner kick. I think the resulting corner was headed over, but it’s hard writing this a few days later.

Our first chance came midway through the first half, Gromsky played the ball to Goldelka, who in turn put Pospisil through on goal, only for a well positioned Slovacko defender to prevent a shot on goal.

The best chance of the first half also fell to us, Koudelka slipped past his marker and played a beautiful waited pass to Kratochil on the edge of the box, with a clear sight of the goal in front of him it would have been easier to score – instead he whacked it into one of the gardens behind.

H/T Nil Nil  ( 3 beers down)

14500730_10154444711116346_4716588846836484893_o

Photo by Matt “LostBoyo” Harrison

The beginning of the second half saw Kuba Splichal replaced by David Muller, we believe it was because of an injury as he was one of our better players in the first 45. No Splichal, no clean sheet as TBK say – as in 48th minute we conceded the only goal of the game. A touch of good fortune for the home team saw the ball loop over Standa Pisek’s body leaving Tomas Zajic with only Floder to beat. 1-0 to Slovacko (4 beers down).

Slovacko created a few chances as they pushed for a second goal, but the best chance came in 85 minute, when Motycka was fouled on the edge of the box.  Jakub Kucera, our midfielder on loan from Zbrojovka, hit a peach of a freekick which was cleared off the line.

And that was it – Another defeat. We feel a draw would have been a fair result for both sides, but you sometimes need a bit of luck and it wasn’t to be this time. The players are giving everything to stay in this league, but quality of footballer is noticeably higher than in Divize (call me Albert Einstein) and we are in for a long season.

For the Blansko Klobasa, the fun continued as we were greeted by two Slovacko fans on the way out who offered us a couple of shots of Slivovice and an invite to the local pub to make the defeat taste more bitter than it should have.

A big shout out to  Matt for turning up for a 10.15 k.o and making the trip a brighter one.

M.O.M – Jiri Floder – made a string of saves to keep us in the match.

Follow LostBoyos here: https://lostboyos.wordpress.com/

photo-2

photo-3

 

 

 

 

Toppled By Tisnov

14114741_10157343230695501_1213278130_o

There is not much that can bring you back early from a holiday in East Slovakia and a cup game at Tisnov is also not one of them, but I was back late on Saturday evening after a few days away across the border and as Tisnov is a hop, skip and a beer away from Brno, it was an easy decision to stroll down for a midday train to a town , nicely situated at the foot of the Czech-Moravian highlands.

A host for the day was our good friend and proud Tisnovak, Michal who had promised us good beer and good company..

To give you a bit of  background to the homeside, AFK Tisnov were promoted from 6th tier of Czech football and the newboys of the South Moravian Regional League have big ambitions. In 2015/16 they were FK Blansko’s farm team and we shared the talents (and beer belly) of Petr Svancara, Franta Kuldan and Mohomed Traore, all contributing to our success on the field. The club have  plans for a new stadium and to turn their current ground into a training centre. For the coming season they have signed Franta Schneider (another ex Blansko player)  and a few former Brno youngsters. Leading the good ship of Tisnov is Jiri Hajsky, who, as I am sure you’ve probably already guessed …. is a former Blansko manager and played in Zbrojovka’s title winning side of 1978. He’s assembled a very useful team which walked away with the league title last season.

To calm the nerves (okay to kill time), Michal took us to a pub serving the locally brewed Kvetnice beer (we have since been told there are two breweries in the town). If you are ever in area, we highly recommend you visit Restaurace Sklep to sample a beer or two and when you are there we advise you to look up… just look up.

photo

As with every trip, we try and fit in a visit to a brewery and this was no different, after a swift pint, we were back on the train and travelling 20 minutes up the track to the small town of Doubravnik (not to be confused with Dubrovnik), home to a beer of the same name and a pint with a great reputation in our region, and possibly the rest of the country too. Now, usually with these places, we wait for Craggy’s seal of apporoval and it wasn’t long in coming. “You know what? I could live here”. Once you hear those words, you know you are in a place of beauty or he’s seen a pub.

It was indeed a lovely town, situated in a valley with wooded hills surrounding, it was also deadly quiet..so quiet in fact that there were very few people about and this included the owner of the local brewery, it was closed up and there was nobody home. Who closes a brewery on a Sunday?  Who?

14101634_10157343230545501_1350019593_n

There was a back-up plan, well not exactly a plan, but we’d noticed three things in the town – a statue, a fire station and a pub, so in true Blansko Klobasa style we headed straight to U Sedlacka for a slightly different gulas and finally a pint of the local brew. And even the barman seemed to be pretending the brewery didn’t actually exist….

The gulas was the perfect pre-match meal and the was everything we dreamed of and although Doubravnik had hosted us well (we’ll forget about the brewery incident), it was time to catch the train back to Tisnov for the game.

It’s a crying shame that the cup isn’t taken so seriously, but for teams like Blansko and Tisnov it’s a chance to test their skills against better teams, so it was lovely to see that there was a healthy crowd gathering.  For us it was an opportunity to see some of our new signings and to have a closer look at how our new squad was shaping up for the coming season in the MSFL.

14111813_10157343230600501_2023393735_n

We very rarely describe the match in detail, but with this being Tisnov’s debut in the Czech Cup, we’ll try and recall as much as we can.

In the 2nd minute, Blansko showed their attacking intentions, Kratochvil put new signing Jan Minx through on goal, but he pushed the ball just past the post. In the 11th minute, the home side attacked for the first time and with it brought the first goal of the game. Some shenanigans in the box forced the referee to point the penalty spot.  We believe it was captain Kolacek who fouled former Blansko striker Ladislav Hansl, but we are not quite sure. Anyhow, Hansl stepped up and calmly slotted home and put Tisnov one goal up.

Jan “Minxy” Minx (add a “y” to the surname to create nickname) was beginning to take a hold of the game and created a chance for himself in 21st minute, but couldn’t quite find the finish to match the run. In 29th minute, he again was at the centre of things and created a chance which Kratochvil gobbled up to bring Blansko level and this was the score at half-time.

At the beginning of the second half, Tisnov sent on their ace, Mohammed Traore. We’d seen him turn out once for Blansko (a match winning performance away at Rosice) and knew immediately that we had a game on our hands. In the 48th minute, he created a chance for himself which thankfully our 16yr old keeper equal to…….After a rather dominant display in the first half, Blansko were looking on the ropes and it was Traore again who was in the thick of the action. In the 52nd minute he tricked his way to the byline before pulling the ball back for Tomas Zdrazil to put the home team in front for the second time.

Cometh the 57th minute, cometh the man.. which basically means Honza, Honza time.. Kratochvil setting up local hero Honza Trtilek to smash home an equaliser from the edge of the box. We love that guy.

Blansko then created three very good chances, new signings Kutal and Motycka going close before Honza again had a chance to put Blansko in front, but shot just past the post.

In the 77th minute, we had a great chance to win the game and I am not too sure why we didn’t take the lead, we suddenly found ourselves with four attackers  bearing down on the Tisnov goal. – but somehow overran the ball when it seemed earlier to score.

Extra-time saw Tisnov gain the upper hand with the impressive Traore pulling the strings all over the park , creating some great chances to win the game, but found Zdenek Vesely in fine form in the Blansko goal. 2-2 it ended.

The penalty shoot out brought joy for Tisnov, with both Minx and Splichal missing in a 9-8 shoot out and although disappointed not to be progressing to the next round, we headed back to pub convinced there were better things to come from this new-look Blansko team.

M.O.M – Jan Minx

Attendance : 330

14074974_10157343299845501_1258272570_o

 

 

 

 

Zdars In Your Eyes

13814592_10157198663615501_1182413876_n

Zelena Hora

Žďár nad Sázavou is not up there in our list of favourite places in the world, it’s the Milton Keynes of the Czech Republic. It’s done nothing wrong, but it’s just one of those “new towns” that grew around the success of the Zdas steelworks. If you mention the city to Czechs, they will mention the beautiful countryside, some might talk about the UNESCO site “Zelena Hora”, others will associate it with cycling and cross-country skiing. Of course like most places we go to, the general reaction from friends is “Why are you going there?” – they should know better.

To answer the above question, we were obviously in Zdar for Blanko’s final away game of the season, a massive 3 pointer. For those of you who are unaware of the current situation in Divize D (and of course, we don’t expect you to be), Blansko are one point clear of Uhersky Brod and Hodonin with two matches left. The prize of winning the league is a place in MSFL, the third tier of Czech Football league system and it looks like all 3 clubs are interested in going up. That last sentence might seem a strange one, but the truth is that promotion has huge financial implications and out of the three teams in pushing for the title only Hodonin have the financial backing to be able to afford it. We would need a huge donation of around 40,000 euros to help with the costs of playing in a higher league. What this means is that we are still unsure that we are going up.

For The Blansko Klobasa, the dream is still alive, not just the seeing the players test themselves at a higher level, but for us it’s a chance to see new places, new grounds – as groundhoppers we’ve been in this division far too long. Roll on Sigma Olomouc B.

Back to Žďár, the train ride was a pleasant one, the train weaved it’s way through some stunning countryside on the way up to the Czech-Moravian highlands – and the journey was made a lot nicer by  2ltrs Knezihorsky Lezak. I had been groundhopping the day before in a small town called Bzenec and the owner of the brewery showed amazing kindness by sending me on my way back to Brno with a sample of his beer. I digress. But before I finish this paragraph, I feel I must mention the football team. Definitely the most entertaining team I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. They play with two old-fashioned wingers and have been hammering teams out of sight – this time Boskovice were on the end of 6-3 bashing. Next season the club will play Divize for the first time in their history.

So, as I was saying back to Žďár, we arrived on familiar ground and with Wingy on his way down from a beer festival in Prague, we decided to find the bar we always go to, it’s about 300m from the train station and serves up 3 local beers for a great price, the service is always hit and miss, but we can handle it for 20kc a beer.

13840637_10157198665055501_1731586846_o

Žďár

The last time we visited this place, we’d been moved from table to table as every one of them had been reserved..the pub was empty. This time, we were greeted by a face from the past, Big Dave Sharp, an American who has made Zdar his home..On the plus side for us, he was on friendly terms with the bar staff making our pub experience a more friendly one.

Wingy eventually turned up for nostalgia, beer and a photograph before we said our goodbyes and walked to the ground for a game which was equally important for both sides. The home side needing a win to confirm their place in Divize for next season and for us, a win would see us hold on to top spot.

13820399_10157198664470501_579290610_n

Žďár Stadium

The game started at a frantic pace and that was just Pavel the drummer, who was beating his drum orgasmically. This had an instant impact on our team as we conceded after some poor defending.

The pessimist in me began to believe that we were about to witness a trouncing and the end of our title hopes, but thankfully the players saw it differently and midway through the first half we were 3-1 up and cruising. “WE ARE GOING UP, WE ARE GOING UP” – it’s amazing how optimism can return before the end of a paragraph.

At half-time we were joined by the rest of the Blansko away end, eager to join the fun and make the most a free trip to Zdar…ahhh, that’s probably me being a bit harsh, but they travel around Moravia on the players’ coach..for free.

13819831_10157198663335501_167294401_n

Mid-game

Blansko kicked off the final 45 minutes attacking our end and looked in complete control.. This basically involves Petr Svancara showboating and playing up to the crowd and then getting fouled. It is complete control, isn’t it?  This period of possession football ended when the home team banged in their second goal of the game, against the run of play. In truth, I can’t quite remember the strike, I think it was scrappy – it was most certainly not a goal of season contender – that goes to Franta Schneider who restored our two goal advantage with a screamer from the edge of the box. I won’t bother to describe the goal, I will put a link in below. It is well worth watching.

4-2 up with a minute or so to play, we conceded a penalty.. Nobody knows what for and I am sure that includes the officials, but it was coolly slotted away and the ref blew his whistle to signal he’d had enough.

The joy on the faces of all connected to the club was there for everybody to see. As supporters we very rarely see all the players come over to celebrate with the fans, but they all knew the significance of this result.  They walked over to our small band, joined hands and raised them three times in unison to show their gratitude. It also gave us a chance to sing ” We are going up” one more time, before racing off for a pint.

Heroes, the lot of them.

We are going up.

UPDATE: Since this game we have found out that WE ARE (definitely) GOING UP!

13844104_10157198669165501_914489451_o

We are going up!

Watch the highlights here: Žďár n. Sáz – FK Blansko