When we found out that Chris Boothroyd of the wonderful “The Czech Up” was back in the Czech Republic, we invited him to sample the delights of klobasa, beer and football at U Dolni. This is his story…
The morning after my first night in Brno had, stupidly, ended in shots of vodka and a 3am meander to my hotel. It was safe to say that at that exact moment with the sun shining through the curtains that my head was distinctly too heavy. Sleep was needed.
Sadly for my aching body (and soul, which was beginning to contemplate as to why vodka on top of an insane amount of beer good idea) I had to head out of ‘town’ later that afternoon to visit a somewhat bizarre Moravian institution. Therefore, those late morning and early afternoon hours which were readily approaching was all the time I had to be able to do some sightseeing.
So with a pounding head I hit the art galleries, one almost a little too literally.
Hangovers in Brno would, through no fault but my own, become a regular occurrence. Whatever doesn’t kill you, as they say.
As the clock was approaching three I headed on down to Brno’s train station. With my head suitably clear(er) I made the amble down in fair time where I was greeted by a grinning Ralph.
Thirty minutes away from Brno is Blansko. On first impression it is a rather functional Czech town, but I wasn’t here to be doing any ‘traditional’ sightseeing – or see enough of the town to dispel that first impression.
But to people like me, Blansko’s main attraction is their football team; a team who count on supporters from mainland Britain as some of their most dedicated supporters and for that afternoon (or is it a lifetime?) I would be joining the cult of the Blansko Klobasa.
Joining me on the trip north of Brno were Rhys and Matt; two friends inter-railing it around Europe and had scheduled a nights stay in Brno and had timed it right to arrive in town just in time to hop on another train and head to Blansko. By sheer fluke, no doubt.
On the way up Ralph made three things abundantly clear: Firstly, the walk to U Dolni was primarily up hill; secondly, the chants were predominantly in English and finally, he posed this riddle: How is it possible that Blansko’s highest attendance stands at 16,000?
Unfortunately Ralph was spot on about the walk to U Dolni. On a pleasant day with the sun beating down, the trek up through streets and across roads wasn’t the most enjoyable of treks. On the plus side, we weren’t taking part in the local half marathon – unlike some poor souls who seemed to be quite literally sweating buckets.
But, after what seemed like an eternity, we crossed the crest of the hill and began to head down along a path where, to our right, an old-fashioned stand appeared to our joy. Beers were bought and we were soon in place behind the man with the drum and the checked the scoreboard. Blankso 0-1 Hodonin.
Things didn’t get much better.
Looking around it seemed impossible that 8,000, never mind 16,000, could fit into the confines of the stadium.
There was, and probably always has been, one solitary stand and despite a little embankment on the other side of the pitch, it was hard to figure out where the hordes of people could stand, let alone see.
But it would be explained to us that yes, 16,000 people did once cram into U Dolni to see the local outfit take on the Czechoslovak stars that wowed at the 1962 World Cup in Chile. If that game wouldn’t entice the locals in, I’m not sure what would.
But back to the football. By this point Blansko were probably two or three down. They were playing poorly and Hodonin – a town noted for its nearby vineyards and desire for professional football – were cutting through them like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Luckily David Juran, the host’s goalkeeper, was playing well and managed to keep the score down. Ralph has enthused about his abilities previously and on this display it shouldn’t be long before he is plying his trade at a higher, professional, level.
The beers flowed (“did you notice the Welsh pendant in the club house?” Ralph asked whilst we were getting one round in. Truth be told I didn’t, but I’ve no reason to doubt it) and, sadly, so did the goals. Each time a faint “Number one is David Juran / And number two is David Juran” drifted its way down to the pitch, not that it made much difference. And so with a defeat on the cards, conversations were abundant despite the best efforts of Juran who walked away with our Man of the Match award.
Tales of Wales away, of football trips back home, of life, of Europe; everything and anything was discussed and by the time the whistle was blown Hodonin had run out easy 5-0 victors. We left dodging the used condom (people really did it for Blansko) and headed out of the stadium and towards a local bar called Probe, which is the only pub I’ve been into that featured legitimate terracing.
More beers followed well into the evening, the night and the early hours. Clubs, pubs and bars were visited.
I was sold on Blansko and, importantly, their klobasa – of course I had one!
You can follow Chris on twitter at @czefootball or head to his excellent website www.czefootball.com
And now for a word from the wise – well, Mr Blansko himself, Wingy, Wingy, Wingy…
Juran submarine sinks without a trace…
Finishing strongly last season, we all had high hopes for FK Blansko in the new footballing year – well, our Blansko native Wingy certainly did. However, after the 5-0 defeat at home to Hodonin, the opening of the season has been less that perfect, as he will happily explain to us now:
Football fans are a superstitious lot. Tales are legion of fans who had to wear the same shirt unwashed for half a season lest washing it break a cycle of home games without defeat. And after this 5-0 home drubbing we were left wondering if we had angered the football Gods in some way. Was it a delayed reaction to the loss of the old Skoda from the training pitch? Was it the absence of Craggy and most of the Fun Club? Was it that Ralph wasn’t wearing anything Blansko-related? [Ed. This is not the first time this season] In the end we decided it must be down to us not meeting up at the main of Blansko’s two stations (look what a developed place this is!) and that in future steps must be taken to appease those Gods. Certainly something needs to be done – this was my second game of the season, both at home, and my record runs thus –
Played:2 Won:0 Drawn:0 Lost:2 For:1 Against:9 Points:0 (one was in the cup anyway)
In short FKB were woeful. Utterly outclassed by one of the most professional looking outfits I’ve seen at this level – better than the League 2 oppostion that were Frydek-Mistek, and surely a shoe-in for promtion if they can keep up this form. The only bright(ish) thing to report was the return to form of keeper David (he’s not only a friend on Facebook,but also on Twitter) Juran, who saved us on numerous occasions from further humiliation. (Our attempt at singing ‘We all live in a Juran Submarine’ rang a bit hollow if truth be told). With the prolific Koudelka now gone (at least from on the pitch – he was watching from one corner.) it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to see Player of the Year Honza Trtílek benched again. Hope Mr Grmela knows what he’s doing.
Still, two home games in a row coming up. We need to meet at the station if we go to them.