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…

Down a mine

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…

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Player Profiles

At The Blansko Klobasa, we are often asked about the standard of football and about the players FK Blansko can attract, so we have decided to write profiles for the current squad.

Goalkeepers

DjuranDavid Juran – a native of Veverska Bityska, David has been with Blansko for  a while now. An extremely capable goalkeeper, he has been a stalwart of the squad for the past 5 seasons. His ability has not gone unnoticed and has spent time on trial at Znojmo and represented the Czech Republic amateur side at the European Championships in Serbia 2015. An injury this season cost him his place as number one, but still a favourite with us.

Songs – “We all live in a Juran submarine” and “David Juran, superman, follows us on Instagram ”

J FloderJiri Flodr -Anybody who keeps David Juran out of the team has to be a talent and Jirka, who is on loan from Zbrojovka Brno,  has been absolutely outstanding for Blansko this term. A Czech U19 international, we are convinced he will be the first Blansko goalkeeper to represent his country since Jarda Blazek. A superb shot-stopper.

Songs – “Jirka Flodr, he’s our number one (sorry David Juran), Jirka Flodr , he’s our number one (sorry David Juran)

Defenders

P_Gromsky_podzim_2016Petr Gromsky – Gromsky has more songs than Karel Gott and is another popular player with The Blansko Klobasa. 4 seasons ago he was playing 8th tier football with SK Jedovnice and now he’s holding his own in the MSFL. A swashbuckling full back, he’s keen to attack down the right wing. He’s always on fire.

Songs – “Don’t you want me Gromsky”, “Gromsky’s on fire” “He’s Gromsky floating down the right wing”

J_Splichal_podzim_2016Jakub Splichal – nicknamed “The Big Lebowski”by the Blansko Klobasa after spotting him slamming down strikes at a bowling alley, Kuba is another player who has risen through the ranks to play an important role in the club’s recent success. Calm in defence, comfortable in midfield. We like him.

Songs – “We’ve got Splichal, Jakub Splichal, I just don’t think you understand…..”

L_Kolacek_podzim_2016Lukas Kolacek – The grandfather of the team at 33, Lukas was signed from Vyskov (home of the worst beer in the world) in 2016 and has been handed the captain’s armband this season.. He’s our left back and often pops up with the odd goal. Reliable.

Songs- We don’t have one for him at the moment, let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

L_Hanus_jaro_2017Lada Hanus – A new signing who joined Blansko from SK Lisen in February 2017, we have only had the opportunity to see him a couple of times.  Former Zbrojovka Brno youth team player, he can play in the heart of defence or as a midfielder protecting the back four.

Songs – give us a chance..

T_Feik_podzim_2016Tomas Feik – A product of the Blansko youth team, 17 year old Tomas is a highly-rated footballer.  The only thing we can tell you about him is that he has nicked the shirt of Jan Koudelka, Wingy’s favourite footballer (after Mark Viduka) .

Songs – none

 

S_Pisek_podzim_2016Standa Pisek – Standa is a giant, standing at about 4 metres tall – he’s Blansko’s John Charles..able to play in attack and defence.. We see him more as a rock in defence, but our boss throws him in up front if we are in need of a goal. A top man, who organised home shirts for TBK, we owe him more than just a beer.

Songs – “Da, da, da, da ,da ….. Standa Pisek.. repeat”

Midfielders

L_Chloupek_podzim_2016Lubos Chloupek – A scorer of spectacular goals, Lubos is a regular on the right side of our midfield. He notched 6 goals last season on our way to the Divize title and is on his way to beating that this season.

Songs – none..Wingy?

 

J_Kucera_podzim_2016Jakub Kucera – On loan from Zbrojovka Brno, Jakub runs our midfield and as noted by Craggy, he runs in the same style as Steven Gerrard. A “box to box” kind of player, we don’t expect to see him at the club beyond this season. Before each game he shakes hands with Jirka Floder in a strange way 🙂 We believe they are friends.

 

R_Buchta_jaro_2016Robin Buchta – Robin has been at the club since the beginning of time, well it seems that way. Big pals with striker Jan Trtilek, he was the first Blansko player to invite us “backstage” for shots of slivovice. Love the club more than we do.

Songs – ” Robin, Robin, Robin, Robin …. Buchta.

 

J_Minx_podzim_2016Jan Minx – Honza’s favourite player is Gareth Bale, the greatest footballer the world has ever seen and just like the Wales superstar, plays his football down the left flank.. In pre-season he was banging goals in like they were going out of fashion..hopefully we’ll see more of the same in the real games. Another of Zbrojovka Brno.

Songs – ” Honza Minx, Honza Minx running down the wing ….”

D_Duda_podzim_2016Dominik Duda – Signed in July from Opava, Dominik has been in and out of the team most of this season. He started in the centre of midfield, but found himself out on the right in games before the winter break. Has shown brief glimpses of his talent and we would like to see more.

Song – “Duda duda duda duda” (to the tune of the Adams Family”

S_Kolarik_podzim_2016Stepan Kolarik – We are writing this just after he missed a crucial penalty against Unicov, so we’ll try not to allow it to cloud our judgement.  Stepan’s favourite footballer is former Swansea midfielder Frank Lampard and just like Fat Frank likes to get forward at every opportunity. We’ve seen him score plenty during pre season, but he’s found the net only once this season. Very talented and has more clubs than Tiger Woods.

Songs – none.

J_Kratochvil_podzim_2016Jirka Kratochvil – Jirka is nicknamed “little mole”, we have no idea why.  Another homegrown player, he has a bright future ahead of him..He’s been unable to break into the first 11 this season, but we expect to see more of him this second half of the season.

Songs – none

 

Strikers

J_Trtilek_podzim_2016Honza Trtilek – Honza is a crowd favourite and a huge talent.. We all believe that with a bit more pace, he would be playing in the top division. Without wishing to use a cliche – he has an excellent touch for a big man.. Good with his feet and head, you are always guaranteed goals from Honza..

Songs – “Honza, Honza, Honza, Honza, Honza Trtilek”

J_Stehlik_jaro_2017Jindra Stehlik – Big things were expected of Jindra after he made his debut for Zbrojovka Brno in the top league, but he lost his way little and now finds himself spearing the attack for FK Blansko. We are hoping for great things from him. A January signing from SK Lisen.

Song – So come on Jindra Stehlik, score some goals for Blansko….”

J_Motycka_podzim_2016Jarda Motycka – Another player, we have not seen enough of. Jarda has usually been brought on from the subs bench when we are in need of a goal. A tireless runner, you just get the feeling he needs a goal.

Songs – none.

Budapest – The Musical

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Many of us have been to Budapest before, it is a stunningly beautiful city famous for its Turkish baths, incredible architecture and my favourite river… At this point I should ask if anybody else has a favourite stretch of water? Friends often laugh when I list off my 5 favourite rivers…Ralph stop…

The purpose of our visit to the Hungarian capital was not to enjoy the baths, but to watch one of Hungary’s most famous football teams while exploring the city in search of good food (klobasa) and of course the local beer.

6.22am and we were off, comfortably positioned in a Czech Railway dining car, where we would stay for the entire 4hr 23mins of the journey south-east. One of the finest (I am keen to avoid using favourite too much) qualities of Czech Railways is the dining car – the service is good and the prices are excellent – highly recommended if you are ever lucky enough to find yourself travelling in the Czech Republic.

Roughly half an hour into the journey and not even in Slovakia we had already ordered our first beer of to go with our equally unhealthy breakfast of ham and eggs. We were also using the time to refresh our knowledge of Hungarian,  very much like the scene in Monty Python with the very same phrasebook. It’s a difficult language to grasp, but we were both determined to refresh our knowledge of the pleasantries.

The train journey from the Czech Republic is one of the nicest is Central Europe, especially when you cross the border into Hungary from Slovakia. While, the Hungarians may be blessed with stunning countryside, they haven’t been so lucky with ticket inspectors, as a couple of young ladies sat behind us in the buffet car found out when the most miserable inspector told them that a mobile phone was not a train ticket (I suppose he’s right there) and charged them an extra 80 euros for not taking the time to read the small print. No matter how much they pleaded with him, he was not going to let them off, unless they promised to give him back Dunajska Streda. I made that last bit up. However, they did leave the train lighter.

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As we approached Budapest Keleti, two things of note happened – First of all, with us keen to settle the bill, we went in search of a buffet car member of staff. It had been a while since we had seen them, but before you call the police, we did find them, all of them, fast asleep in the first class department and I felt awful having to wake them up. Welcome to Ceske Drahy.

The second, and this might give you an insight into life on the road with The Blansko Klobasa, was that Craggy turned to me right as we pulled into Keleti station and said, “maybe, we should turn this trip into a musical”. Now before you laugh, and we’d only had a couple of beers, honest – I thought this was a brilliant idea. Yes, you are all welcome to join us on a trip. We’ll list the bizarre songs that come into our heads later.

At Keleti train station, I made my first mistake of the day by heading over to change some Czech crowns into Hungarian forint. In untypical fashion, I went to the first place I saw.

“Excuse me, could I change some Czech crowns into Hungarian forints, please?”

I handed over the equivalent of about 35 GBP.

The woman behind the counter smiled and took the money and asked a question that took me by surprise.

“How long are you staying in Budapest for?”

Now, I took that as her asking me out on a date, but before we could finalise a night out on the tiles and possibly a life together in the Hungarian capital, I realised that she was encouraging me to change more money, so that she could rip me off a little bit more…The lesson learned here is – don’t change any money at the train station and although they a being extremely friendly, they are not inviting you out for ghoulash.

So, about 5 beers down in commission, we walked out of the terminal and into the bustling centre of Budapest, where we encountered another, and we must final, attempt to get more forint from us. Craggy will have to watch his back while withdrawing money at Budapest cash machines.

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After that final attempt at the cashpoint, we found a cafe happy enough to provide us with our first Hungarian beer of the day, for probably the only time during the trip we were not there for food or alcohol, but to use modern technology called WIFI to locate our hotel, somewhere over the river. Years ago, we’d have picked up a map from tourist information, now we have smartphones to ruin the fun..

“It’s about a 25 minute walk that way” said Craggy, while confidently pointing in the direction of the Danube, my favourite river if I hadn’t mentioned it all. What my travel partner hadn’t mentioned was that the entire journey was uphill.

So across the Chain Bridge we went, and then up and up and up. It was a challenge. While on that journey, we noticed piles of rubbish on the streets, I can’t really explain it, some people were selling junk, some of the residents had left whatever they didn’t need anymore. There was old furniture, pool tables, computers, old televisions, not in organised piles, but it looked like they had just been thrown from the nearest balcony… Could anyone from Budapest tell us why?

We finally got into the hotel Bi&Bi Panzio, and to my relief without needing climbing equipment, about 3 hrs before kick off. Even though it was a bit of a walk from the Keleti station, it was in a great location and we’d also heard wonderful things about the breakfast. It was also close to the metro line and we had a game to get to. Of course, not before we tried a restaurant recommended to us by the incredibly friendly lady at our hotel reception.

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Trombitás Gösserező was a gem, not the kind of place you would perhaps enter from unwelcoming facade, but a paradise of Hungarian cuisine and beer on the inside. The food did not disappoint and with a belly full, we paid and took various modes of transport before arriving at Budapest Honved’s magnificent stadium.

Arriving 30 minutes before the game might be enough time to get a ticket and find your place in the stadium, but not at Honved. Fans patiently queued well into the first half (apart from two annoying Australian tourists), and the only reason I can think of for waiting in silence without complaint was they knew something we didn’t… That Hungarian football would wait until everybody was safely in the stadium before scoring a goal.

We finally secured our tickets in 32nd minute, after providing I.D and speaking more Hungarian than we’d done in any of our previous visits. The only thing we didn’t understand was probably “Don’t worry about the score, we have asked both teams to pass the ball around in the centre circle until all fans are in the ground”, okay maybe the ticket lady didn’t utter those words, but there were still a healthy number of Honved fans queuing without a care in the world – so we knew the action would wait.

The Hondved stadium should be under UNESCO. It’s sadly been ruined by the plastic seats, but the floodlights are just glorious. For anybody who knows me well, they know that floodlights, rivers and Central European train journeys are up there as my most favourite things ever…

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Beers bought, we positioned ourselves behind the goals and as close to the ultras as possible – I still don’t know how MattLostBoyo finds his way in home end, there must be a talent to obtaining those tickets. Matt?

The game was as you would expect, a bit dull with moments of magic from both teams…The first half went by without much action, but that might have been because we missed the first 35 minutes….aaaahhh. Half-time was spent making sure Honved knew who the Blansko Klobasa were by plastering as many stickers as we could in and around the stadium, while trying to take the perfect photo of the floodlights with our crappy smartphones… The football tourist, hey? Can’t live with them … can’t live without them.

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The second half (a full 45 minutes of action) was entertaining. I actually thought Debrecen were the better team for much of the game and had several chances to score with former QPR and Watford midfielder Daniel Tozser pulling the strings in midfield and second half sub Hyun-Jun Suk running intelligently in attack, they probably should have won the game..but what do we know about football with 85 minutes on the clock scored the only goal we have seen in 360 minutes of Hungarian football, Marton Eppel latching on to a through ball from Kabangu. Against the run of play, but for us it didn’t matter, we just wanted a goal.

With Hungarian football not keen to give us much more, Craggy suggested finding some trendy bars in Pest. By this he meant hipster, where beers are served in bicycle repair shops. Admittedly, it was good place to start, but with none of us in possession of a Raleigh Racer we knew we had to leave after our our only beer and headed for more local climates.

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Those “climates” were a local dive where a local man took an instant shine to our Craggy, offering a leather belt and some perfume for something we are still unsure of. While, we were not in need of something to keep our trousers up or a fragrance that may have been to our advantage, we were in need of beer and the more Hungarian the better. With every sip of beer, came more questions from our new friend.”You like the belt, special price for you my friend”. Sometimes it helps to be the ugly one.

With both of us declining the option of a second beer and bidding farewell to our new friends (which included one who had possibly been sleeping in the same position since our previous visit to Budapest), we made our best decision of the night to find as many local pubs on our way back to the hotel, but not before we had popped next door to Kobe Sausage for what can only be described as a few small sausages in a cone, with lots of sauce. As we were trying to get a photo of this very unique snack, two men approached us..

“Mmmm..klobasa? Is it good?”

“Er…we don’t know, it’s difficult to eat” ( and it was)

“Do you want some cocaine?”

“Er..no thank you” we both replied.

“Grass?”

Well, we declined both, but what impressed us most was that he started on a Class A drug and moved down to something less classy.

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A lot of sauce in an awkward bread cone

Beer stops were made, photos were taken until we arrived in one of our final stops of the evening after being waved away from a tiny bar that had been so welcoming the year or so before. With midnight fast approaching we walked into an empty cafe across the river and a km from our home for the night.

“Are you still open?” I enquired

“Well, we would like to close, but you can have a small beer if you promise to drink it in 25 minutes” The barmaid responded.

She had obviously no idea of who we were, or maybe just thought we had already had one too many.

Then something strange happened, the music changed to mixture of late 80s classics and her colleague came in from the cold. Now, they no longer wanted us to leave, they were locking us in and asking us  if we wanted a shot… this all to a Simple Minds soundtrack. We accepted their offer of a palinka, but we weren’t too sure about them locking us in…It was a bit of a turnaround and one we were not expecting. Suspecting they now wanted a bit more than to dance to Tiffany’s “I think we’re alone now”, we downed the shots, thanked them politely for their hospitality and asked them to unlock the door and let us out. It was a very bizarre moment and one that completely took us by surprise.

We tried other bars on the way up to the hill, finding a Croatian pub open to provide us with one final beer and a nightcap. Budapest we love you.

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Our second day started with the most incredible breakfast we’ve had on our travels, service with a smile and a meal that was worth hotel fee on its own. Follow the link to Bi&Bi Panzio here, it’s worth every single forint.

The Sunday was spent in typical Klobasa style, taking in the sights of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, while finding watering holes to quench our thirst.  In our opinion there’s nothing better than seeing the sights of such a spectacular city, while tasting the local beverages and cuisine.

As we were on the Buda side, we made the short walk up to the castle, past the Matthias church, where like every other tourist in Budapest we stopped for photos – before slowly walking down the hill to the Chain Bridge, to the cities second most popular place for selfies. One too many selfie stick for us and we headed straight to our first beer stop. The rest of the day was pretty much the same, sightseeing and Soproni drinking.

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Around 3.00pm we found ourselves, quite by chance, just outside Keleti Train Station and with two hours to kill and feeling a tad peckish, we found another great Hungarian restaurant, Huszár étterem, on one of the side streets.

“Welcome, Welcome to Budapest”

And I suppose , even though we on our way out of Budapest, the people, the food, the palinka, the beer had made it such a great trip that we knew we’d be back for more.

As Craggy so often says when he likes a place…

“I could live here”

Viva Budapest. Viva Soproni. Viva Palinki.

Craggy: and what about the setlist for the musical, I can hear you asking? Well, this is the rather inexplicable, and somewhat embarrassing setlist that we sang all weekend:

Driftwood by Travis (You’re driftwood floating down the Danube. Can also be artistically applied to suit the names of Blansko players flying down the left wing)

Summer Son by Texas (Really painful one, this one)

Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds (sounds even better after about 15 beers)

I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany (don’t ask…)

Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash

Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode

Don’t You Want Me by The Human League (Sang by the guy in the bar offering himself to Craggy)

Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi (Which Craggy was doing)

Freelove on the Freelove Freeway by Ricky Gervais

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Ralph and his favourite river

Olomouc and the Lipnik Beer Dog

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Pivni Pes

There’s nothing like a 10.15 kick-off on a Saturday morning to the blood racing. We didn’t mind though because we were going to be watching the game from the away end of Sigma Olomouc’s impressive Andruv Stadium… or not.

We had been carrying the hope that our league 3 game between FK Blansko and Olomouc B would be held in the main stadium, so that we could delight in being a full four fans stranded in the away end full of joy and song. Unfortunately, the game was actually being played on the training pitch which sits in the shadows of the stadium.

We arrived around 10.20 to a freezing field clouded in mist and threw our Blansko flag on to a bush. Luckily, the newest member of the Klobasa team, Michal, had brought some of Tisnov’s finest local brews with him and we were on our way to happiness before we had even arrived. It was hard to get the vocal chords warmed up that early in the morning, and although we managed a couple of fine songs the atmosphere was decidedly flat, not helped by Klobasa favourite Standa Pisek being relegated to the bench for the full 90 minutes. In the second half Olomouc B started to show their quality with a scoreline increasing in their favour. I was prompted to remark that Blansko had played well for the first 60 minutes, when Ralph said “Erm… they’ve only played 56”. It was going to be one of those days…

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We left the field with a 4-0 defeat and the revelation that Wingy has a fascination with mullets (Bundesliga to some, Jagr to others). It was true that we had just seen a fan with the most impressive mullet since Pat Sharp presented Fun House, and you could see the longing in Wingy’s eyes for a bygone era of hair.

Our next stop was Lipník nad Bečvou, a little way down the tracks from Olomouc. The train was leaving soon so we sprinted after a tram, a little like gazelles, and grabbed it just in time with Wingy clutching at his heart. Luckily for him, Ralph had the train times wrong by about an hour so we swung in to the station restaurant and had a beer to sooth him.

On these trips we always find someone who is mad enough to want to talk to us- someone who Ralph can give a Wales badge to. Today it was the waiter, who to be honest didn’t  seem to know what was going on but I guess he was happy. At this point we lost Wingy to a trip to Bauhaus and the rest of us rolled on to Lipník nad Bečvou.

Lipník is a small town of around 8,000 people and judging by the reactions of my Czech friends, not often visited. However, it turns out, it does have some real charm. And a brewery or two. If you can find them. After Ralph and Michael had a short war of map applications, we managed to walk around in circles and find ourselves at the Svatovar brewery where we just had to try the first thing we saw on the menu – pivni pes (beer dog). Despite its mad name, it was actually the commonly sought tvarusky cheese (a local speciality cheese) on bread, with some onion and a touch a praprika. It was bloody good though, as was all the food we had there. We washed it down with a fairly decent a beer or two and then moved on in search of more Lipník delights.

We didn’t make the ground in time for the football but the beer window was still open so we were in luck. The ground sits snugly in a green basin with a great old stand leaning over the side of it, complimented by a wonderful old clock. The ground was so pleasant that it felt a shame we had missed the game there. It was bloody cold though, and so after a swift beer sought the comfort of the warmth. Again, Lipník is a place with some charm, as a walk through the walled gardens of the renaissance palace demonstrated. The remains of old city walls are dotted around the old town, and the renaissance houses of the centre surround the picturesque fountains of the Masaryk Square. We jumped inside a pub to find a wedding reception was in full swing, and we only had room at the bar – our favourite spot in any pub.

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From there we made our way back to the train, and with a can of beer in hand, made the journey back to Brno for a nightcap before returning to our respective dwellings