Kroměříž – It’s hard to say

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A trip to the picturesque town of Kroměříž promised two firsts for the Blansko Klobasa: a debut away trip for new Klobasa Michal, and our first game with our own fully segregated away end. Words alone can not begin to describe the excitement.

 

We all met at Brno’s main station, and after some impressive steeplechase by the in-form Wingy, we were happily on our way, drying some essential laundry in the train window.

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A small incident between a lorry and a bridge threatened to derail our journey, but we made our way to Kojetin by bus (see our post about last time we survived Kojetin) and then finally caught our one-carriage shuttle to Kroměříž.

Kroměříž is simply beautiful, and the glaring sunlight of the day made the colourful buildings of the city’s main square seem almost iridescent. The city has much to offer the traveler, from its packed streets exiting the square to the UNESCO listed baroque castle and gardens. Importantly, the city is awash with interesting pubs, including the microbrewery Cerny Orel, which provided us with our first stop of the day, and a much sought after beer. The beer was very good, but after weighing up the prices of the food we thought it best left to the Austrian tourists. We tried Radniční sklípek for food, most of us opting for various kinds of schnitzels, and washed it down with a pint of Maximilian from the local brewery – both proving winners all round.

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It’s fair to say that the Klobasa love a bit of culture, and so of course the castle gardens were high on our list  of “must-sees”. We managed to make it a short way in before we saw a pub garden sitting nicely in the shade, with one free table left and enough space for about four people. Not choosing to contradict fate we sat down with another local beer, the “McHugo”, and watched an endless procession of weddings being tossed out of the castle quicker than Pavel the Blansko drummer turns out football songs.

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It wasn’t long before it was time to head to the ground. As we’ve already mentioned, we were looking forward to camping out in the away end of the SK Hanácká Slavia Kroměříž stadium, seeing as we have never had the opportunity of an away end before. However, Pavel the drummer had been pretty down on the idea from the start and now that the day had finally arrived he was firmly digging his heels in. Maybe the space wasn’t right for his drum, or maybe he just felt out of his comfort zone, but whatever the case we ended up capitulating and staying with him in the main stand.

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SK Hanácká Slavia Kroměříž have a great ground, and with a disappointing turn out from the home fans we had a lot of space to make ourselves heard. Maybe the heat had got to the players but the game had 0-0 written all over it early on, with barely any chances from either team in the first half aside from a free header for David Muller. This was due in part to some good defensive displays, with new centre back Pisek, arriving in the summer from Ivancice, putting in a particularly strong performance. Blansko were also missing Pospisil, who was injured, and Koudelka who was busy winning a bronze medal with The Czech Republic in the Soccer Sixes European Championships. The second half played out much the same with Honza Minx(y) failing to convert a one on one with the keeper before the game finished goalless. Not the best of games, but a point away from home is worth having at any rate, and that means two away games without conceding a goal, which is great.

We finished the day with a swift beer in a pub close to the stadium, before making our way back to the train and on through the darkening Moravian countryside towards our respective homes.

Man of the Match goes to Standa Pisek for his super display at the back.

Man of the Day goes to Michal for is superman display, saving babies’ hats and carrying luggage for ladies of all ages. (Although he’s not coming again if he’s going to make the rest of us look bad)

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Zdars In Your Eyes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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We are going up!

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

 

 

 

 

Going up!

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For the Blansko Klobasa it has been a great season. For FK Blansko it has been perhaps even better. When Michal Kugler left his post to pick up the managerial reins at Rosice, we were nervous about what the rest of the season would look like for us. Under Kugler, FK Blansko had seen a distinct improvement in performances following a disappointing previous season. However, from the chants of “you should’ve stayed at Blansko” following the impressive victory over his new Rosice team, it has been a roller coaster of a season seeing us bite our nails right up to the final whistle of the final home game against Polna, with victory resulting in the lads clinching the title. Seeing as this whole Blansko/Klobasa love affair started when Wingy took us to a home game, we will let him detail the rest of the story surrounding the thrilling end to this magical season. Firstly though, from all of us – thanks to everyone involved for making it a great season. See you on the road.

Here’s more from Wingy:

THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER – IT IS NOW!

If you follow a smaller club, you obviously have a different measurement of what constitutes success. Two or three years ago I was watching a YouTube clip after Darlington FC had won the F.A. Trophy by beating Mansfield Town at Wembley, and one woman when interviewed said it was the best day of her life. And I understood her completely. What was important to her was that it was her club, from her home town, and she and the 15-20 thousand other Quakers fans were joyous at them winning something for once. When Ralph, Craggy and I (Wingy) started supporting Blansko it was with the most modest expectations. And we’ve been more than rewarded for our efforts. More than anything else, we’ve had a huge amount of fun, but we’ve at times seen some surprisingly good football. And throw in some late winners and equalisers, and the odd spectacular goal, and it’s easy to see why we’ve developed a great affection for the club, and feel thoroughly a part of it now. And this last week of the season has surpassed anything which came before. As it stood last Sunday, there were three teams battling it out for the top spot, with only one point dividing them – Blansko, Hodonín and Uherský brod. And, to be honest, I’d have put my money on Hodonín – they’ve got more money, and look like a team ready to play at a higher level, and they had two home games remaining which you would certainly have expected them to win. So Blansko needed to win both their games. And thus it was that we found ourselves in Zd’ar nad Sazavou for the penultimate game. Things didn’t start too well, with Zd’ar pretty well dominating the opening exchanges, and it was no great surprise when we fell behind. But this seemed to galvanise FKB and they went in at half-time three-one up. “Game over” you’d think, but this being Blansko it was never going to be that easy. And sure enough, Zd’ar upped their game, and pulled it back to 2-3 and pressed for an equaliser, with at one point an innocuous cross rebounding off our crossbar and fortunately being scrambled clear. But then came the point that possibly saved our season. Blansko mounted an attack and the centre was only cleared to just outside the penalty area, where Franta Schneider was waiting to wallop it first time into the net. What a goal! GET IN! But there was more to come, as Zd’ar got a late penalty and pulled it back to 3-4. Fortunately, we hung on, and with Uhersky Brod losing away, and Hodonín unsurprisingly winning, the last game came down to a straight fight between us and Hodinín.

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Originally our final game, at home to Polna, was down to be played on a Saturday. But, at Hodonín’s request it was put forward to Friday. Unfortunately we were a Klobasa short, as Ralph was away on International Duty, supporting Wales in the Euros, so it was left to Craggy and myself to hold the fort. I had arranged to meet Craggy there, as I was coming with my father-in-law, and as soon as we arrived I could see something had changed. Queues!! Almost unheard of at Udolni! Unfortunately, presumably because of the date change, FKB hadn’t managed to organise an extra temporary bar, and so by the time we had got served at the bar the game had already started, and within two minutes had a penalty (which they missed). As Craggy was waiting in the stands with the ultras and I (father-in-law in tow) walked up to take our seats, Blansko took the lead, a well taken goal by the again excellent Honza Trtílek, who added a second a few minutes later. And not long after that Pavel Mezlik added a third. Three-up with 18 minutes gone! Surely we couldn’t blow it now? But then later in the half they put over a cross to one of their guys, who looked a country-mile offside, but he smashed it past Juran in our goal, and so we went in 3-1 up at half-time for the second time in a week. A couple of minutes from the end Petr Svancara made his final bow as he was subbed , to grateful applause from the Udolni faithful. And, although we looked nervous at times, we held out. Cue wild celebrations – even some flares, smoke bombs and fireworks.

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Then we got on to the pitch to have our picture taken with the Klobasa flag and Svancara, and off for a couple of swift Slivovices with the Fun Club!

So, that’s it for another season, and what a season it‘s been. Hopefully going up to the MSFL, if we have got the money. For the Klobasa, some great trips out, and a lot of laughs (and for me personally, only one defeat all season, and the three away games I got to finished 3-0, 4-3 and 4-3, all to Blansko!). Massive thanks to the club, especially Petr Svancara, and other fans of FKB, for appreciating our support. We will definitely be back next season, no matter which division they are in (would love to see us at Olomouc B though!!). And thanks to you all for reading this, and we hope you come along to a game one day!

COME ON BLANSKO!!!

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Bystrice – A Blog Post with a Fairytale ending

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Late last Wednesday evening I messaged Craggy about the upcoming trip to see high flying Blansko up in Bystrice, a pleasant little town in the Czech Moravian Highlands about 60km north of Brno.

The conversation when something like this –

“Looking forward to Saturday?”

“YES” (capital letters indicate enthusiasm)

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

“Good news first, please”

“There’s a brewery”

“What’s the bad news?”

“It’s on a farm called “Eden” and it costs 90kc to get in”

“90 KC!!! We are not paying that!!” (exclamation marks indicate anger)

” Yeah, no way!”

Fast forward to Saturday morning and after a wonderful train journey ,we find ourselves outside Eden with 90kc in our hand…Luckily for our wallets, the place was locked up, not because it was early in the morning (9.30 am), but because the brewery doesn’t open until May and even then it is only open at weekends. You won’t be surprised to learn that the brewery has an average score of 1 star (max 5) on my Android app…mostly from disgruntled customers complaining about the opening time and the entrance fee..

We were far from unhappy though, we were excited. Away trips are one of the greatest things ever created, up there with beer, klobasa and David Juran.

A huge plus to these trips at the moment is Blansko have been unbeaten for absolutely ages, we are writing absolutely ages as we haven’t quite done our research and established our last “nul points”…Back in October in Hodonin, we believe.

With Eden not quite ready for visitors we rolled down the hill from the train station towards the ground.  In 2014, the lane to Bystrice was just like any lane, but not any more..it is now called “The Magical Fairy tale Alley” and is lined with wooden statues of characters from Czech fairy tales on the left and rope bridges on the right.. Craggy couldn’t contain his excitement and skipped off to try them…all.

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Rope bridges successfully conquered and we found ourselves in the ground and queuing for beer..

As mentioned in previous posts, the welcome from the people of Blansko is so lovely. This time some of the old generation that has travelled up on the coach with the players (something we have to do for the blog) came up to us and enquired to how and why we were following Blansko…

“Boys, where are you from? You are not from Blansko..Are you from Brno?”

“No, I am from Wales and he’s from England”

“From Wales and what are you doing in Brno? Studying?”

Now, as somebody who finished his studies a long time ago, this was indeed a compliment..unless, he just thinks we act like 20 year olds…come to think of it.. it’s probably that.

As we made our way round to main stand Next up was Sasa, the clubs long-standing physio/goalkeeping coach – greeting us with big handshake and a smile, before telling us that 10.30am was far too early for a game of football and that he was suffering from an evening in the pub. We know how you feel, Sasa, we know how you feel…

Finally, we got to the stand and our final “dobry den” was to Pavel, our drummer, who was tuning up..

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By the time we had put the flag up, the players were out and acknowledging the supporters with the little wave they do before each game. We started well, attacking with purpose and carving out opportunity after opportunity, but without really troubling the goalkeeper..

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Things were so quiet at the other end that our number one, David Juran, could have sat with us for the first half hour….I can’t remember a single shot that he had to stop.. And with the game edging towards half-time, we thought we’d beat the queue and grab a local beer before the break..As we queued, Bystrice attacked and won a corner..as we ordered the beer, Bystrice smashed the Blansko post and just as we got out beer and with the final attack of the first half, the home side scored – cheers.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first, we attacked, they defended, but you could just tell that it wasn’t going to be our day. We could have played until it got dark and we still wouldn’t have scored..post, crossbar all hit as pushed for an equaliser..I am not even sure their keeper used his hands in the second half. We lost 1-0, a game we should have won..

We headed into the centre of the  town to try and find the pub we’d visited on our previous and just like the Bystrice goal (and the brewery) it was difficult to find a way in ( does that make any sense) – so we headed to a local cafe for a pint of Harrachov, but with Craggy on a strict time schedule, we spent most of that time looking at the time..

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“I am not sure we’ll make it, we mighty have to run” I pointed out.

A gentle jog, turned into a run and by the time we got to the foot of the hill (who puts a train station  on top of a steep hill) we were sprinting…

Halfway up “Fairytale hill” – Craggy was a good ten metres ahead of me and it was looking like he would travelling back to Brno without me, but like any fairytale it has a happy ending and …er… I made it with seconds to spare…..

THE END.

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