You know you are in a special place when you arrive in a town and the first thing you see at the bus station is not a bus, but a table tennis table. Right next to platform 1, a table tennis table, all set up and ready to use. Desmond Douglas would love Polna.
The next thing you notice is an old woman following Craggy into the bushes…ahh Polna..how we missed you.
We had been before, you know, via the Rebel brewery and watched Blansko beat a pretty poor Polna side, so taking that memory with us, confidence was high as we headed into the town centre to have a look around and grab something to eat. Friends and students had told us that Polna offers nothing to the foreign tourist, but we found it a lovely little place, with a busy market square and the stunning church of the Virgin Mary sitting proudly in the centre of the town and above it the first pub of the day, U Bartaku.
U Bartaku was the scene of what we thought was going to be our first hostile welcome as Blansko fans, but on that occasion Craggy saved the day by handing of over a sticker while muttering the words “Blansko Klobasa, we are friends”- It seemed to work that time, so we made sure we were armed with more stickers than a Panini album when we headed back there for a pleasant prematch pint of Jezek.
As we entered the bar area our first obstacle was a local man, not a man with a “who goes there” look, but a man flat out on the floor by the main entrance. Ahh Polna how we missed you…
The most noticeable fact about the pub is who the owner supports. The largest room is covered with Slavia memorabilia, flags, scarves and pennants, even though the nearest top league team is Jihlava and Prague is probably about 2hrs away.. The people of U Bartaku love Slavia and sleeping, probably in that order.
Sipping our beers and trying not to look out of place, our focus turned to the game and whether Blansko could follow up their 3-0 walloping of Prerov with another win. We are not a blog that goes through tactics, so that conversation lasted all of 7 minutes and we spent the rest of our time watching the local man face down at the entrance trying to get up. If you can picture it, it was like a scene from a Rocky film, but just like the Italian Stalion, he did it on the count of 8 by my reckoning and was back in the game. On our way out, we passed him happily sitting talking to his mates as though the whole episode was something of the norm in Vysocina. Ahh Polna…
The game, the game. We had high hopes, high hopes of seeing Petr Svancara for the first time in a Blansko shirt. Petr Svancara doesn’t do away games, he hasn’t got the time for it, apparently. Every second week he is either playing for Blansko’s farm team in Tisnov or on our television screens as a summariser for Czech TV. With the pay packet at the club consisting of a post match beer and a klobasa, I suppose we can forgive him for looking elsewhere to support his family.
To most football fans of the club, Svancara is probably the most important person at the club, but we have to disagree. Pavel, the drummer, is Blansko and he was missing. He never misses a game, well he’s never missed a game while I have been following the club. To say we were concerned was an understatement.
Just before we kicked off (Blansko, not us), I asked one of the other regulars if they had heard something, I genuinely thought that something awful had happened.
“Do you know why Pavel isn’t here today?” I asked
“We are not too sure, but we think he is in Greece”
“Saving the Greek economy?”
No answer…. Of course, he was on holiday, but I quite liked the idea of him being the saviour of Greece…..
Back to the game. As with most games at this level, there was not too much between the teams. I reckon Blansko edged the first half and a goal from a set piece midway through the first half from midfield general Premed Fousek was to prove me right on this occasion. Most of the game was spent in the centre of the park and I can’t recall David Juran being tested.
Second half had very much the same pattern as the first. Much of the play around the midfield and we genuinely thought that Blansko would take the 1-0 win and 3 points back to Udolni. But in the 73rd minute disaster stuck. Polna will probably put it down to a double substitution, but we put it down to the crucial role of a wasp. Both of us had spent most of the game elegantly swatting wasps, they were everywhere. And bang on 73mins, I was stung for the first time in about 20 years. The wasp had landed on my wrist and while I was not looking…my reaction was not to scream, but to throw my beer all over Craggy – leaving him a tad surprised “What did I do?” and me in pain. It also had an effect on our goalkeeper as he committed two howlers to gift Polna the points. You could say that Blansko were stung too.
With the game nearing the end, we’d seen enough and headed back to the safe haven of the local pub, where we found most of Polna there watching the Slavia game on a dodgy stream and the man who had previously been doing his finest impression of a human draft stopper the most vocal of them all.
Anyone fancy a game of ping pong?