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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Toppled By Tisnov

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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Take a Chance on Myjava

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My student looked at me with a quizzical look which he often reserves for a complete lack of comprehension. “You’re going to Myjava?” He seemed genuinely puzzled. “OK, if you want…”

Later that day I was telling Ralph about this reaction while we were standing at Brno’s main station, waiting for the first of three trains to take us to the small town in western Slovakia. He seemed both surprised and concerned. “Honestly mate, I remember this town being beautiful… honestly”.

Three trains, and an incredible journey through the Czech and Slovak countrysides, later we alighted to one of the saddest-looking train stations this side of Ryde Esplanade. The highlight of the station “Bufet” would have to be saved for later though because we’d been long travelling and needed to drop our bags at the local guesthouse. We left the decaying station behind and found our abode lying at the bottom of the hill and well in the shadow of a tower block lifted straight from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. “Are you sure about his place, mate?” I asked. “Honestly mate, I remember this town being beautiful…” To be fair, the guesthouse was superb and the staff very friendly, which is certainly not always the case.

We were eager to immerse ourselves in this gem of a town and so we headed out on to the main strip to take in the sights. It was at about this point that Ralph had to concede that he may have somewhat misremembered the town. Now, I wouldn’t say there was much wrong with it. There just didn’t seem to be much at all.

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Of course, we were unfazed by this because, to steal a Crowded House lyric, everywhere we go we always take the weather (Blansko) with us. We headed on with high hopes, and had a quick look at the centre’s, admittedly notable, Evangelic Church, built in 1711. After a quick pint by the trickling river we entered one of the town’s real highlights, the Spoločenský dom, and sat among the football memorabilia decorating the . It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the football team here. Spartak Myjava have a stadium capacity of 2,709 in a town of just 12,000 people, and 2016 sees them enter the UEFA Europa League for the first time in their history, following promotion to the top league in 2012. It’s fair to say that they are well supported in the town, and you can see the club’s colours in abundance. We would find out more later, but having polished of a pizza covered in Slovakian bryndza cheese, it was time to tour the town’s finest watering holes.

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For a Slovakian town is was surprisingly difficult to get a Slovakian beer, and our luck didn’t improve upon entering the “Blue Bar” situated in the Kulturny dom, where we sat and mulled over a Czech Bernard. We love Czech beer above all else of course, but when in Rome…

We drank up and headed to the football. The stadium has been recently reconstructed in preparation for the European debut and on a night like tonight it looks perfect under the floodlights.

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Spartak Myjava

The home side ended the season with a win, finishing a fine third in the league and with Europe League qualification already in the bag. The fans were ecstatic and much to their delight the victorious team did a lap of honour to cap off a great evening. Next season will be a big one for the club and it was great to see them finish off the year in style tonight.

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Myjava is a developing town, and many of the bars are centred around a singular modern complex. Always on the looking out for a more interesting experience we avoided these and wandered in to the town’s hottest hangout – the Bowling Klub, where we promptly made friends with a Slovak man of an advanced age in a Man Utd baseball cap and only a few teeth, who upon closer questioning expressed support for both the Manchesters, plus Liverpool FC. Covering all bases there then. Ralph felt the need to widen his options and handed him a Wales badge, but having never seen a pin badge before needed a little help from yours truly to pin it on to him. An intimate moment for sure. What would we do without these people? To be fair he seemed to more interested in supporting the derrière of one of the waitresses, which he kept demonstrating to us enthusiastically with cupped hands.

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We finished the night in the Movies Bar where they were showing some ice hockey, but no one seemed to be interested and the house was hardly rocking, most people appearing to have vacated the town for the weekend.

The next morning we woke up early and arrived at the station for find the train delayed. We gathered the last of our Euros together to afford two half pints in the station “Bufet”. Thank god we could only afford halves because it smelt like death in there. Although everyone was too busy watching a Hollywood film about the marriage of two talking dogs to notice. The train eventually rolled in and we rolled out, leaving a Myjava behind us that upon reflection offered more in the end than we had expected. Now we were on our way back to the Czech Republic to prepare for Blansko’s penultimate game against Žďár nad Sázavou.

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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