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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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…

Our Top Ten Pubs in Brno for 2017

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In January last year we published a post on our favourite top ten pubs in Brno, which generated a lot of discussion and opened up more options of pubs for the Klobasa to visit – and indeed we did. So, following on from the popularity of that article, and following up on a few suggestions, we have returned with a new top ten. Whilst one or two of the absolute best have retained their place in our list for 2017, we have added a few new surprises for consideration.

We have chosen these 10 based on quality of beer, range of beers snacks, service, and general atmosphere.

Once again, these are merely our personal favourites, and wait with bated breath for our readers to inform us on our mistakes, errors and unbelievable admissions.

In no particular order, the Blansko Klobasa’s top ten pubs in Brno 2017…

Zastavka – Úvoz 78

Zastavka is the automatic go-to place of the Blansko Klobasa, and it is fair to say we are now locals. This bar serves one of the best pints in Brno, and an extended, ever-changing list of beers ensures endless reasons to return. The accompanying beer snacks include the infamous karbos, which are freshly made and offered to those lucky enough to be there in the mid evening. All snacks are made to perfection and are served by some of the most attentive staff in the city.

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U Tekutého chleba – Moravské nám. 755/14A

U Tekutého chleba is our most central pub on this list and probably one of the most recently opened. A no-frills pub, running on the policy of a variety of often-changing beers, it gains its popularity by consistently offering new things to try. There is both standing and seating areas, no-smoking, and a screen to watch the sports, if you so wish.

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Garage Pub – Travinky

We are still not sure if this bar actually has a name, but the owner, an artist, has turned his garage into a no frills bar serving our favourite beer, Policka. It made our top ten for the welcome from everyone. A local pub for local people, you are guaranteed a friendly welcome from the owner and his wife, if you can find it.

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U Dvou přátel – Tábor 25

This is a big favourite of ours, it’s just simply a brilliant bar with a carefully chosen selection of beer and ales and you can line your stomach with some of the classic beer snacks we are always banging on about. U Dvou Pratel is an upbeat place, the scene of some great music and a place to grab a beer and learn a bit about what’s inside the glass.

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Zubatá Žába – Jungmannova 1146/33

The ‘Toothy Frog’ is a Policka-serving pub situated in the Královo Pole district of the city. With excellent beer and a cozy atmosphere Zubata Zaba remains one of the top picks for the Blansko Klobasa. It is also close to one or two other Klobasa picks, which makes it ideal for the favourite Blansko Klobasa pub crawl.

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U Sajmona pod Hájkem – Botanická 608/28

Another new entry to our top ten, U Sajmona serves up a great glass of Chotebor not too far from our place of work. We’ve always had a great welcome and highly recommend trying some of the traditional Czech dishes with your beer.

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U MíčeStaňkova 15

It’s hard to say anything bad about U Mice – it’s opposite our office, it serves Policka. A popular place with the Brnaci and it’s not difficult to see why. Last year we recommended the cheese balls, so this time round we heartily suggest trying the roast beef sandwich.

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Lokálek – Kotlářská 265/5

Lokalek is tucked away just off Konecneho Namesti and is quite often frequented by fans of Kometa and Zbrojovka, the local sports teams. There’s a always a game on the telly and recommend any of the the beers they have on tap.

Srdcovka – Poděbradova 716/12

Srdcovka is definitely a pub with atmosphere. Laying deep inside a dark basement, the pub offers a decent few beers and a lot of classic rock music. You can also get your range of classic peer snacks to go with it. The owner is often on hand to help you with your choice of pivo.

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Schrott – Křenová 291/10

Designed with an industrialised interior, Schrott offers something a little different and is our only pub behind Brno’s central train station. A little detour under the railway bridge is worth it though, as Schrott offers an atmospheric drinking experience and a wide range of drinks. The hermelin ain’t bad either.

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Honourable mentions:

It is worth mentioning these as they are some pubs that are certainly worthy of a top ten list but narrowly missed out on ours for various reasons. Last year U Bomby was suggested to us, and while it serves excellent beer, we’re not too sure about the atmosphere on the occasions we’ve been there. Pomaly Bar was on our last year’s top 10 list but has narrowly missed out this year. Blahovka and U Capa are old favourites, especially if you like Pilsner. Zelena Kocka has a great choice of beer and some decent snacks if you want somewhere more central. The Starobrno Brewery, too, is worth visiting if you have never been before. Finally, we would like to suggest a tram ride to the pub at the FC Dosta Bystrc stadium for somewhere nice to sit in the sun on the warmers days. It is a favourite Sunday trip for the Blansko Klobasa.

The Hunt for Pav the Drummer

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“Right, I will show you round Blansko during the winter break. It would be nice if there was a bit of snow.. it will make the place a bit more picturesque” Those were the words of Wingy, a resident of town for the last 23 years after deciding to swap a cushy job in a London office for life as an English teacher in South Moravia. Blansko needs snow to make a trip worthwhile.

Chris (Wingy) is probably the main reason, why we started following the local football team. A few years ago, we started going and such was the welcome from everybody at the club, we found ourselves spending more time at Udolni and beyond.. Now, one of the friendliest of friendly faces was Pavel the Drummer, the only regular Blansko Ultra at the time. You could guarantee that at every game, home or away, Pavel would be there, with his drum. Then back in November, after a few matches on tannoy duty, he disappeared. We know that sounds dramatic,  but we were genuinely concerned and nobody at the club knew of his whereabouts.

So, we decided, while on a tour of Blansko, to print off a picture of our drummer and ask the locals if they had seen this man…

A few days before the trip, Wingy pulled out with a serious bout of manflu, leaving the rest of us to wander round the town, taking in the sights and of course enjoying a few beers. First stop was the new allweather football pitch (needed to confirm our place in MSFL) and 90 minutes of football. Blansko were hosting Bohunice, a team from Brno playing a couple of tiers down from us. For us, it was a chance to see our two new signings and to be quite honest to watch a live game of football.. something we’d been missing.

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It was cold, very, very cold, definitely the coldest game we had ever been to (colder than Boundary Park)..we lasted 80 minutes before heading for the warmth of a local pub. Not even a hip flask full of homemade slivovice could keep us there for the entire game and we left the moment our new striker, Jindra Stehlik, scored our 6th goal.

Now,for the first time in the short life of the Blansko Klobasa, we vlogged our trip with a Polaroid Cube and the story of our trip is below.. With none of us being at all good on camera, we ask you to go a bit easy on us…

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