A hiding to nothing in the Highlands.

IMG-20171001-WA0001I woke up at around 10,00am on Sunday morning with two options, to clean the flat or to head back into the Czech Moravian highlands for Blansko’s Divize D fixture against Vrchovina. Now, believe it or not that wasn’t an easy decision to make. Saturday I had spent walking from Bystre to Policka in the driving rain to visit our favourite brewery and on my return to Brno, I had been convinced that the best way to end the night would be to dance. I don’t dance. I can’t dance. I went dancing. So, to rise with “sususudio” still in your  head – I should have just rolled over and got a couple more hours of kip… Su su sudIOOOO..

Brno train station was packed with Zbrojovka fans heading in the opposite direction for their game against Karvina , daytrippers on their way to Prague and me heading to Nove Mesto Na Morave for a spot of groundhopping. The name might be familiar to those of you interested in winter sports,  for me it was the scene of  a wild night out in the late 90s and only the second time in my life someone has pulled a gun out on me.

The train journey was quiet and I was thankful to have the brilliant Merthyr Town fanzine “Dial M for Merthyr” to keep me company. Changing trains at Zdar, I bumped into David Juran, our former goalkeeper, the subject of many of our songs and now number 1 for our opponents, Vrchovina. It’s always nice to see some of the old faces and I spent the journey quizzing him on his time at Blansko. You genuinely got the impression he was sad to leave Blansko and that the decision was out of his hands. Now given the current situation at the back, you have to question how he was allowed to leave.

At Nove Mesto train station, I wished David all the best, asked him to give away a couple of penalties and said I hoped to see him back at Udolni one day.  I also asked him to recommend a restaurant in the town, but he said he could only recommend a few 24hr pubs. Cheers, David.

So, as he went in the direction of the ground, I went back in time and looked for a restaurant to cure my hangover. On occasions like this and with little time before the game started, I use the 4square app to advise me on places to eat – it recommended a place 10.1 km away in the village of Radesin. I think that might tell you a lot about my options. In the end I did find a pleasant restaurant in the centre of the town. Thanks U Dvou Kocek, Nove Mesto making me feel just a bit better.

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The Vrchovina stadium is a compact little ground with one main stand running along the touchline. Naturally at Blansko games it wasn’t long before I bumped into someone I knew, one of the Blansko regulars, whose name I can’t recall. He encouraged me to try his homemade apricot spirit and like many Moravians wouldn’t take no for an answer. Cheers. After spending a few minutes chatting to them about the club and a bit about the future (the future of FK Blansko, not our future together) I walked back round to one of the quieter spots, just as the teams walked out.  One of the things I love about groundhopping is the possibility to enjoy a game of football on my own. Of course, it’s great fun with friends too, but there are times when you just want to clear the head and watching a game of football in the middle of nowhere can help.

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Blansko started positively and could easily have taken the lead in the opening couple of minutes – Lubos Chloupek almost weaving his way through the Vrchovina defence to score.  However,  it was Vrchovina who opened the scoring in 6th minute with another mistake from our defence, Vrchovina’s Kamil Skalnik finishing from just inside the area. After 21 minutes we were 3-0 down (all to individual mistakes) and you could see the boys heads drop.  At this point, I found myself thinking how much we would benefit from 3 central defenders – it’s easy to say in hindsight, but every game this season we find ourselves stretched at the back. The players are good, but they are young and in desperate need of a Standa Pisek to organise the team. I rarely use the adjective “rudderless”, but at the moment we are a rudderless ship..er.. in need of Captain Pisek.

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In the second half,  two more goals were added and we had our goalie sent off for a professional foul, the cynical me would say it was a deliberate way of avoiding the next couple of games. I am sure it’s not the case – but when you keep shipping goals at the rate we are, it can’t be easy. The break might do him good and give us a chance to see Zdenek Vesely in goal.

As I headed back to the station after the game, I struck up a conversation with a couple of Vrchovina regulars who agreed that we are a better team than the 5-0 scoreline suggests – but some drastic action needs to be taken if we are going to stay in this league.

 

Up the Blansko!!!

 

Highlights – Well, the Vrchovina crowd are amongst the loudest in the league. It was good to meet David Juran and chat all things Blansko.

 

MOM – Jan Psikal/ Lubos Chloupek

 

 

 

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TISNOV HAVE THE HORN – BLANSKO GET SHAFTED

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If you support a small club, you get used to there being ups and downs (or even quite big clubs – the lower leagues in England have several teams who were playing in the Premier League not so long ago, such as Portsmouth and Coventry City. And former league teams like York City, Stockport County and Darlington now play in the sixth tier). It’s something which you accept, as it is extremely difficult for a small club to punch above its weight for very long. The Klobasa have already seen two promotions and one relegation, and now we are on a downswing, and are probably facing going down again. Following relegation last season, Blansko lost a lot of their best players (including, it must be said, some who were the subject of our best songs) and have this season promoted last term’s successful youth team, with the obvious result of us having, with a few exceptions, a very young, inexperienced team. And it was this team that we came to see at Tisnov. The Klobasa were on a little high after seeing in our previous trip a decent performance and a one-nil win at Velka Biteš. But Ralph had a warning for us, as he was expecting a thumping. And so it came to pass.

I had made my way to Tisnov seperately, and the day started well enough when I found that I wouldn’t have to spend 50 minutes in the thoroughly unlovely town of Kuřím waiting for a connection. And I met up with the other Klobasas (and occasional guest Klobasa and Tisnov resident, Michal) in the centre (following a detour due to misunderstanding directions given (a salutary lesson for an English teacher). The walk to the ground involves a path under a tunnel of horrible creepiness, and then comes to a gate in a wall which brings to mind an entrance to allotments. Inside it’s not much better – the standard formula for a lot of grounds at this level (like Blansko) of the changies, bar, toilets etc in a building on one side, and main stand on the other. Although ‚stand‘ over-dignifies it, as seating capacity (unlike Blansko) is less than three figures, and barely two. And Ralph assured us (and he seems to know these things) that they were going to build a new stadium next door.

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To say things started badly was an understatement. Tisnov, who were fielding no less than seven former Blansko players (including the increasingly‚ circumferentially challenged Petr Svancara) were straight at it from the start, and it was little surprise when they went ahead after only three minutes, and a second was added after 13. It was quickly apparent that Blansko were totally outclassed and the priority was to prevent a rout. To add insult to Injury, Tisnov had thein own drummer, a strange little man who had a black curly wig (although no moustache, so this wasn’t some sort of Scouser homage), and a trumpet. (Our own Pav the Drummer has gone AWOL again, and is sorely missed. Pav, are you out there?). On our side of the pitch was someone with a vuvuzela (for those of you unfamiliar with this instrument, it’s a type of plastic horn which first made an appearance at the South Africa World Cup in 2010, and makes a horrible, mournful honking sound, and was promptly banned from British grounds, thank god.) and the two were making a call and response which was suggestive of sexually-frustrated geese. Tisnov added a third goal before half time, so that was game over, although in truth it had been from the third minute.

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The second half started where the first left off with Tišnov adding a fourth while Ralph and I were still getting the beers in. And of course it had to be Svancara who got it. And that was about it. Tišnov added a fifth later from a free kick, but they’d already stepped down a gear, so it meant FKB avoided too much humiliation.

So, not much to cheer about this time round. The new keeper had a bit of a nightmare against an excellent team, the defence well-nigh non-existent (oh for Standa Pišek to return!), and poor Honza Trtilek was ploughing a lone furrow up front. There was some promise – Dominik Smerda had a decent game considering. But not much else. Ah well. As Ralph says, it’s going to be a long hard season.

Blansko bite back in Velka Bites

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There has been a lot of change at FK Blansko. After experiencing the dizzy heights of the third tier, we now find ourselves back in Divize and without most of the players,  without our old manager and assistant and a few of our supporters. (Pav the drum still AWOL).

We have no idea of the exact amount, but the MSFL budget must have been huge last season and out have gone many of our star players. Some back to their parent clubs and others have even dropped down a league. With our main sponsors pulling the plug on the finances, the team is now made up of a couple of 30 and 40 year olds ( Wingy’s close to a call up) and the majority of our youth team. Of course, Honza Trtilek, Petr Gromsky and Jakub Splichal are still in town, but you get the feeling we’re very much experiencing a season of  consolidation.

At TBK we try and look at things positively and away trips are now closer, if that makes any sense. Sunday’s trip to Velke Bites was a 40 minute bus ride north of Brno and this allowing us to be back in time for tea…

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Velka Bites is a small town just of the main motorway connecting Brno and Prague. When I asked a friend about Bites, he told me that he met his wife in a pub there 23 years ago, so it has a lot of fond memories. With none of us on the look out for a wife, he could add no more information and my research brought up nothing of any interest, so off we went into the unknown. I did once stop there for an ice-cream though.

Myself and Craggy met up for a prematch pint at Brno’s main bus station. If any of you have ever been there, it’s a dark piece of brutalist architecture and not the place you would recommend meeting for a pint. But, we’re intrepid, see… so we made our way to the station cafe and ordered a couple of pints of Hauscrecht… a lovely local beer.

By the time the pivo had been downed, it was time to meet Wingy.  For those familiar with queues in the Czech Republic, they don’t really work like they do back home. People do queue, but the moment the bus turns up it becomes a scrum with a pensioner grabbing the front seat. The 14.30 (which incidentally Wingy claimed never existed) was no different. The story ended with us all getting a seat.

Upon arrival in Velka Bites, we did what we usually do, we headed to the nearest pub. Which was just opposite the bus stop. Perfect. What we should have done is explore a bit more as VB is full of pubs, there was one on every corner up to the ground – they all looked better than the one we stationed ourselves in.

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We made kick off. We always do. Grabbed a beer and positioned ourselves (and the flag) close to one of corner flags. To make the new boys feel at home, new chants have been invented, most of them about our new right back. (Wingy is eager to tell our readers that he taught Tomas Feik in nursery school). The poor kid is only 17yrs old and he probably doesn’t even know who Status Quo, Carl Douglas or the Beastie Boys are…Well, past tense… he does now.

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The game was settled in the 15minute, Honza picked up the ball just inside the Bites half and just ran and ran, a fortuitous ricochet presented the ball to Kratochvil who lifted the ball over the advancing keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0 Blansko!

We can’t actually say whether the goal was against the run of play or not, as quite frankly the standard of football was not high, but who are we to care when the goal presented us with our first 3 points of the season.

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At this point I could bore you with a detailed match report, but if the truth be told, I am writing this a week after the game and there was so little quality during the 90 minutes, it’s best if I leave it.

We took the applause from the players at the end of the game, the players came over for the high fives and the congratulations from us, it had been a good day out. And naturally in true Klobasa style we missed the first and the second bus home as we were celebrating 3 points with 3 pints. Up the Blansko.

MOM – Honza

Highlights – Great ground and a small town full of pubs.

Lowlights – The realisation it’s going to be a long season.

 

 

 

 

Points, Pints and Pistols. Digging for points in Petrkovice

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When you take the train north east from Brno, via Vyskov na Morave towards the industrial city of Ostrava, you soon get the feeling that you are embarking on new territory – something that is at once both Czech and something a little different. From the train station of Hranice na Morave there is an apparently intangible barrier to break through, leading to the compelling landscape of Moravia-Silesia.

We love heading to North Moravia, so an away day to the Ostravan suburb of Petrkovice was a notable highlight of this season’s fixture list. Ostrava is famous for its mining heritage, and Petrikovice is home to the Landek Park Mining Exhibition. Being of a cultured nature, we put this as our number 1 stop for the day.

Well, not quite, actually. First, we went in search of the local Ostrava brewery, which we found closed, like most of Ostrava in the morning. We walked around for a little while until we found what appeared to be an open brewery pub… Interestingly, the pub also doubles up as a shooting range, as Ralph found out the hard way with a rifle pointed squarely at his face. No service today, it seemed.

We escaped in one piece and wound our way to Stodolni. Stodolni is a street that is known for being a drinker’s paradise – if a drinker’s paradise is a few Irish bars and a couple of strip clubs all opening at 4 in the afternoon. We are not so patient, so instead we opted for some local Ostravan “hospitality” with a pint of the locally brewed ‘Ostravar’ in Šatlava, and waited for our tram to appear outside and take us to Landek.

Hospitality is something of a new concept in Ostrava, which is why when we tried to enter the Harenda U Barborky restaurant we were shouted at for the audacity, and asked indignantly if we couldn’t recognise how busy it was in there and would we kindly turn around and do one. So, with a laugh and a wonder, we did indeed leave and went straight to the mine instead.

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Although the original mine was around 600 metres deep, we went down a mere 10. However, the tour was conducted by someone who used to work there and it was an interesting hour spend down in the dark. And we managed to get a Klobasa sticker on one of the yellow helmets. We go to great depths for this blog…

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The tour over, we finally forced our way in to the restaurant and found it a much quieter and friendlier affair. We sank a couple of beers and a 5-minute gulash and headed to the stadium where we would witness an attack on our flag… Here’s Ralph with the match report:

The Petrkovice ground was just a short walk from the mining muzeum and has a stand on one side of the pitch, a pub behind the goal and perimeter railings around the rest of the pitch…basically, our kind of place. We paid our 50kc to get in, grabbed a beer, greeted the 10 or so Blansko fans that had travelled up with the players and made our way to a corner of the ground we would call home for the next 90 minutes.

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Petrkovice have a great record at home and had only lost once this season, to Otrokovice back in August, so before we had even put our flag up, we knew a draw or a win was going to be difficult.

However, any defence with our gentle giant Standa Pisek is defence hard to break down and his return also allowed us to push Lada Hanus into a position protecting our back four for the first time this season.

As with most games since the winter break, the boys started quite nervously and it needed a string of fine saves from superkeeper Jirka Floder to settle those nerves. To say he has been outstanding this season is an understatement and it is not hard to see why Zbrojovka Brno rate him so highly. His stops gave us the confidence we needed to break forward and midway through the first half we had our best spell.

We really want to say the turning point came when our central defender Jakub Splichal destroyed our flag by falling into it while sheilding the ball out, or when our captain, Lukas Kolacek felt it important to shake our hands before taking a throw-in in the 18th minute, but in truth it was a refereeing decision. Referees at this level often make decision depending on which team they favour and in 28th minute they became Petrkovice’s 12th man. A ball was played over the top and our number 11, Lubos Chloupek was clean through on goal. Now correct me if I am wrong, but if an attacker is pulled down by the last man, it’s a red card, it is isn’t it? Well, not in the eyes of this referee, who deemed it to be just a yellow. Rightly, the Blansko players, supporters and the bench were fuming..We don’t mind losing fairly, but when you have a referee playing for the other side, it just not fair.

Jakub Kucera, who was having a mighty fine game in the centre our midfield, hit the resulting free kick beautifully and it took a great save from the Petrkovice goalkeeper to keep it out.

With us attacking more and more, it was surprise to see us take the lead in 33rd miniute.. The referee awarding a penalty just as Craggy was going to bar for more beer. Kucera made no mistake from the spot and we celebrated as though we had won the league. We actually had more chances before half-time, but going in 1- 0 up was a great feeling.

The beginning of second half started with Blansko in control, our striker, Jindra Stehlik worked tirelessly up front and Jakub Kucera was doing his finest impression of Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park, we attacked and restricted Petkrovice to chasing the ball for long periods.. But, in typical fashion (of late) , we switched off at the back for the only time in the match and of course, the home side punished us. A ball played into the box landed between our defenders and Jirka in goal, leaving Petrkovice’s Dominik Spavlenko with a chance to volley home, which he did.

To be honest, a point was a fair result and definitely one we would have taken before the game, so to come away with a draw and a great team performance wasn’t a bad thing. It definitely lifted the players as they came over to us at the end, giving us high fives and thanking us for the support..Let’s hope this is start of our recovery and if it isn’t our message to the players is just to enjoy yourselves on the pitch. Football is entertainment after all.

MOM – Jakub Kucera – outstanding (But all the players deserve credit for the performance against a tough side.

Also a special mention to the groundstaff at Petrkovice who got the pitch ready after a snowfall on Thursday evening.

We love you Blansko, we do..

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After the game we headed back in to central Ostrava and stopped at an old favourite Restaurace Spolek for a couple of beers, some karbos, and some fried cheese balls, before making our our way to the station. After knocking back some slivovice we fell asleep on the train and arrived back in Brno in what seemed like 5 minutes, marking the end of another wondrous trip to the magical lands of northern Moravia. We actually almost lost Ralph here, as he caught his coat on the train and was left hanging while I doubled up in tears of laughter. Luckily some nice young lady helped unhook him before the train could take him off further down the line…