Our Top 10 Pubs in Brno for 2018

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It’s that time of year again where we provide an insight in to our favourite pubs in Brno right now. Every year we try to an include as many fresh entries as possible based on a mix of atmosphere, beer, snacks and service. And while we have many new additions to our list here, three ever-presents remain as they are our favourites, our locals, our second homes. And as you will see, not many are in the city centre – we like to get out.

So, before you sit down with a beer to enjoy the following, remember that these are only our suggestions for this 2018. There are many more excellent pubs in this wonderful city, so use your noggin and go and find them…

U Čolka
(Tábor 879/3, 616 00 Brno-Žabovřesky)

U Čolka used to be a regular watering hole at the back end of the 90s before heading over to the Mersey Club. It’s now just an excellent choice for an evening beer. A great selection of both local and national beers, we highly recommend the Sobesice 12, if it’s on tap. As with all great pubs, they serve up  wonderful snacks to go with your ale – all freshly made with the perfect service. The summer garden’s a great place to enjoy a cold one in the sun.

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Google Map of Tábor 879/3, 616 00 Brno-Žabovřesky


U Alberta

(Pellicova 10, 602 00 Brno-střed)

Tucked away just off Pellicova, this justifiably popular pub sits conveniently out of earshot of the Brno bustle. The owners keep things interesting with a progressive attitude towards their beer choice. There’s always an ale and they brew their own stuff too. In the summer it’s a great place to enjoy a cold one and watch the world go by.

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Google Map of Pellicova 10, 602 00 Brno-střed


Kabinet Múz

(Sukova 49/4, Brno-město, 602 00 Brno)

Kabinet Múz is one of the few pubs in the very centre that we go to. One of the reasons is that it is one of the best gig venues in the city. On top of that the bar serves up a couple of of good lagers and it’s also a place where you can buy a good selection of interesting vinyl. Also, if you fancy a bit of vegan food this is the place to be, with a decent set of options from a vegan-only menu. The only thing wrong with the place is that Craggy hasn’t been offered a gig there yet.

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Google Map of Sukova 49/4, Brno-město, 602 00 Brno


Music Lab

(Opletalova 1, 602 00 Brno-střed)

For another city centre pub, we have included Music Lab in the list. Offering three variations of beer from our favourite middle-sized brewery, Polička, it might have got in here on that alone! However, the pub also offers a good venue for smaller gigs, and musicians offer gather here in the atmospheric interior. If you fancy the regular cheesy beer snacks, those are also on offer.

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Google Map of Opletalova 1, 602 00 Brno-střed


Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven

(Jiráskova 251/51, 602 00 Brno-střed-Veveří)

And for one more musical addition to the list this year we have Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven. Although the name might suggest a ‘Chicago Rock’ type of affair, it is nothing of the sort. Yes, it has some posters of rock icons but the real deal is in the beer, snacks and music that fills the basement pub. With the occasional acoustic show taking place, and an interesting list of beverages, it’s a great place to spend a weekend evening.

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Google Map of Jiráskova 251/51, 602 00 Brno-střed-Veveří


Traubka

(Traubova 1547/8, 602 00 Brno-sever)

Located on a quiet residential street, it would be quite easy to miss Traubka. Somebody once described it to us as “the best underground pub in Brno” and “a cozy den”. We can’t really argue with that much. They have a couple of beers on tap and are always happy to rustle something up in the kitchen should you feel a bit peckish.

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Google Map of Traubova 1547/8, 602 00 Brno-sever


Pivnice Na Šrébráku

(Jugoslávská 599/34, 613 00 Brno-sever)

Back in the day, there were two pubs with a reputation for serving the perfect beer, so Brno beer lovers used to switch between Blahovka and U Zmije. Pivnice Na Šrébráku moved into the building where the original U Zmije used to be and offers the same high quality sherbet with three or four of the Czech Republic’s finest on tap.  A pub full of life, it’s quite often standing room only if you get there late in the evening.

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Google Map of Jugoslávská 599/34, 613 00 Brno-sever


Zastávka

(Úvoz 78, 602 00 Brno-střed)

Here is the first of what we could call our three ‘locals’, and definitely three of the best pubs in the city. Zastavka is the point of contact for the Blansko Klobasa as it is placed somewhere between two of your dedicated writers. This bar serves one of the best pints in Brno, with an ever-changing list of beers. The accompanying beer snacks include the infamous karboš, which are a kind of freshly made open beef burger which get offered around as some mystical point in the evening. All beers and snacks are offered up by some of the best service in the city.

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Google Map of Úvoz 78, 602 00 Brno-střed


U Míče

(Staňkova 15, 602 00 Brno-Královo Pole)

U Míče is where the Blansko Klobasa talks shop – it’s opposite our office and it serves Polička. It’s a popular place with the Brnaci and it’s not difficult to see why. Definitely a pub with an atmosphere, it is best if you can get a seat at the bar and get your hands on the beer snacks before they’re gone.

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Google Map of Staňkova 15, 602 00 Brno-Královo Pole


U Dvou přátel

(Tábor 25, 616 00 Brno-Žabovřesky)
The newly opened sister pub can be found at Dominikánská 23

We love U Dvou přátel (At the Two Friends), and it is an ever-favourite destination of the Blansko Klobasa when we head north of Uvoz. The pub is a welcoming and lively place, and the scene of some great music and excellent beer – they have even ventured into the brewing scene themselves with Brewniverse. Last year saw the opening of a second pub right in the centre (Dominikánská 23), still serving the great snacks but this time with a bigger basement venue for gig nights.

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Google Map of Tábor 25, 616 00 Brno-Žabovřesky

As always, we have a few Honourable mentions. We are aware that we have only covered a tiny area of the Brno pub scene, but some of these have made in to previous lists, or make one in the future. If you want something new and from a small brewery out of town, try Doubravnik not far from the centre. Pomaly Bar is an old favourite of ours and is worth it for the atmosphere alone. If you want something right in the centre go for Zelena Kocka. It attracts the tourists and prices are rising, but the quality and choice is always guaranteed. Further out of town is Paradox, a decent pub with its own small theatre. Lucky Bastard is favoured by some, and it certainly has a great choice of its own beer. Blahovka is a Brno standard – every Brnaci knows this pub. U Sajmona is also a favourite, with a great fresh pint of beer and some of the best pub food you can find.

Turned over in Moldova

 

“A longer version of this third slab of mid-90s memories was featured in Welsh in Dylan Llewelyn’s book Awe, brilliant tales of glorious shambolic trips since the 1980s.

Unearthed recently, this is @chsingthedragon ‘s report of the original Moldova, was one of the most iconic trips of all time. We got stared at as if we were aliens for three whole days and nights, as we were the first away fans (all 72 of us) ever to ship up there. Jason Bowen wandered around the players’ hotel in Swansea training gear, we had a chat with Gary Speed and told him he was playing centre forward in the game (in retrospect, we wish he had), and oh aye yeah obviously we got nicked.

 

When we got home and saw the game on TV, it was like one of those games that looked like it was being beamed back from the moon. Cockroaches, shops with literally nothing in them.

 

Of the four of us who travelled in our group, two emigrated and the other one we never heard from again. The rest of the Chisinau 72 are the usual beautiful headers you still see to this day.

 

Wales away: losing to countries you’ve never heard of, since 1876. “

 

@chsingthedragon

 

 

CHASING THE DRAGON : Turned over in Moldova

 

 

 

 

The joy of being a Wales fan is the greatest thing in the world, even when we win. To see us play away somewhere weird is even sweeter. Do it at least once in your life or you haven’t lived. A small, intrepid band of Wales away fans have lived a lot and loved a lot.

 

This is a tribute to the triumph of hope over experience, a talk of how the world’s most beautiful sporting outfit can seep into the very core of an otherwise barren life, elevating mind and body alike to a higher plane of existence. It is a story of the bling love and devotion that a group of men can inspire in you, even though you have never met them, men you would probably not even like if you did meet them. Saving souls and scoring goals, a vision of shimmering seduction, I give you the Welsh national football side, sent to us from heaven, via a hotel just outside Newport.

 

At the risk of sounding like the kind of emotionally stunted loser you would cross the street to avoid, all I have ever wanted in the whole world is to see Wales qualify for the finals of a major football championship. I used to count our appearance in the Kirin Cup, but to be fair there were only three teams in it and .crucially, it was by invitation. The bitter experience of repeated failures against hastily assembled teams of bin men and chimney sweeps all over Europe made me realise a long time ago that we may never qualify unless we blag it and get to host a tournament.

 

Moldova away in October 1994 was the stormiest episode so far in a beautiful, shambolic love affair, kicked from pillar to post by the unforgiving jackboot of fate, ultimately to be smashed in the teeth by my all too fallible heroes. Like all Wales fans, I had long since lowered my hopes to levels so low it would make your mother weep. In the sure-fire absence of us ever being successful, my personal holy grail had been downgraded to a sad and desperate yearning to see us win away, anywhere, against anyone. Having skilfully missed early 90s wins in Cyprus and Luxemburg, I pinned my hopes on us netting a maximum haul in Moldova and packed my flag for the hike.

 

Moldova, a country that had only just been born from painful collapse of the USSR , that never even played a home game until Wales went there, as a country seemingly invented just to bring us happiness into the drab, meaningless existence of the 78 lost, but happy souls who went there from Wales. Surely even Wales couldn’t mess this up and my search for the inner happiness would be over at last. I have never been so wrong in my life.

 

Spurning the simplicity of a direct flight to Moldova, we thought we would be clever and fly to Bucharest and then get the train to Chisinau, the Moldovan capital. So, there we were, already exhausted and way off the beaten track. It’s Tuesday morning, the day before the game and we pull up at the crack of dawn at the Moldovan border, dreaming of friendly locals, gallons of cheap wine and Nathan Blake’s burgeoning career as a world-feared striker. Full steam ahead to Chisinau was the plan and time to get our bearings before worshipping at the shrine of sporting excellence that is, to this very day, the Wales U21 side. The nice ticket lady would do a quiet inspection, run through her newly developed “welcome to my lush and bountiful country, have a nice day” routine and Lenin’s your uncle.

 

Except the nice lady was in fact a crack squadron of the erstwhile Soviet army and they’d not been to charm school. They had is at their mercy and a nightmare descent into hell itself began. In the blink of an eye we were turfed unceremoniously and placed under armed guard by a bunch of bored Kalashnikov-touting psychopaths. You hadn’t seen this on Sgorio. For hours, our only crime was that we were foreigners and therefore could not possibly want to go to Moldova. No-one had ever been there before and certainly not for football. Our border nightmare was to last a total of 24 hours.

 

There were four of us and it turned out there was something wrong with our visas. No-one knew whether we would be sent home, starved to death or summarily executed. Even worse, we might miss the game and I’d promised my mates programmes. Romanian army guards immediately post- Ceausescu had little time for decadent Western ideas like time being important, so hours drifted by, a whole day of perfect drinking opportunities slipping through our finger… and us helpless. Our cunning plan of telling the guards in woeful Romanian that we were in fact Welsh international footballers off to play our Moldovan cousins was met with understandable incredulity. We repeated for hours “ footballista Tara Galilor”, knowing that “Tara Galilor” is Romanian for “Wales” and using “footballista” in the desperate way we hope it means “footballer” everywhere east of Brussels. In a frightening glimpse into the inner workings of my psyche, I swore blind to a man with a gun that I was in fact David Phillips and demanded to be released immediately. This understandably cut no ice with our captors. Why didn’t I say I was Mark Hughes, we would have been let off easily. As it was, they just walked off shaking their heads.

 

Nine hours into our incarceration and having now lost the will to live, I persuaded the bloke with the biggest moustache to lend me a phone and I somehow got through to FAW supremo Alan Evans, in the team hotel in Chisinau. Evans was an international trouble-shooter if there ever was one and never happier when he was preventing Welsh football fans being mercilessly ripped off by unscrupulous foreign football federations and law enforcement agencies. Despite the litany of human rights abuses I outlined to the great man as I pleaded for UN or FAW intervention to help our plight, he was unmoved. “Sorry, sir”, he said with impeccable politeness, “there’s absolutely nothing we can do”. The crackly line went dead and a part of me died too, forever. If even the supreme fixer and fans’ friend Alan Evans couldn’t help us, we were in bigger trouble than we had thought.

 

A whole day passed and we were starting to contemplate suicide. To make things worse I was playing chess against a bored army conscript, as a kind of “hands across the ocean” trick to get him to let us go. Only problem is, I was one move away from winning. He didn’t look like he would like losing and was lovingly fondling his Russian assault rifle under his arm. Here’s the dilemma – checkmate and risk my life or let him off and live to see Wales again? This is the sort of every of everyday existentialist crisis that you can only get from following Wales away and it’s part of the reason why we love it so much. You don’t get this down B&Q choosing between magnolia or off-white. Death or glory, hero or zero, your life’s destiny shaped by the move of a rook. I had to let him win, I had Iwan Roberts to go and watch and besides, getting shot over chess, even on a Wales trip, would have been a bit careless.

 

Sixteen hours after they dragged us off the train, the army kindly shoved us on the midnight slow train back to Bucharest. Refused entry to Moldova. They could have told me at the Embassy in London, it would have saved a load of hassle. We had waited an entire day, with no food or beer, to be turned around on a train going away from Moldova. Surely this doesn’t happen to normal people? I was already wondering whether Giggsy would do the same for us.

 

Like good Welsh boys, we jumped off the train at the first station we came to, no-horse town at two in the morning and persuaded a scared looking toothless local to drive us 100km to the next border crossing. It was pitch black, the car had no lights and the driver appeared to be drunk. Pretty much your average Wales away taxi. We were so scared we wanted to go back and get shot to get it over and done with.

 

So, then we pitched up at the second border crossing at 4.00am and after a mere four hours of pleading and bare-faced bribing, we were finally let into Moldova, a trifling 24 hours after we got there in the first place. 50 dollars and 20 fags each it cost, well they could have told us that the day before, moody or what? Deliriously happy at the prospect of seeing our world-beating heroes slay the disorganised rabble that Moldova would put out, we were even delighted to find that the only way to Chisinau was to bunk on a coach full of grim-faced Serbs on holiday (great destination). We quickly realised that we wanted to see Wales more than we wanted to discuss human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia, so we shut up being Jeremy Paxman and vowed never to do this again, until the next time.

 

We eventually got to Chisinau a few short hours before the big game, filthy, starving, demoralised, 30 hours late, but luckily having missed an ominous but characteristic defeat for our Under 21s. Imagine how edifying it was when the first person we saw, Wales player Jason Bowen, who was mates with one of our group, asked us what the hell we were doing there. As if that hadn’t occurred to us a million times over. A four-day traipse to the farthest depths in Europe and the players didn’t even bat an eyelid. My heroes.

 

Moldova away, along with the 5-0 gubbing in Georgia a month later, is the low point in the history of our national side and my raging desire to see us win away was to be denied me, yet again. The Republican Stadium in Chisinau was what it must be like in hell. It was gloomy, ramshackle and the pitch was freshly ploughed. Playing only their second ever game and in a kit that most discerning pub teams would have turned their noses up at, Moldova came from behind to beat Wales 3-2. This had the hard-pressed locals whipped up into an orgy of nationalistic fervour and disbelieving delight that the world had produced a team actually worse than them. We were in the lead, we had a goal disallowed, we hoofed chances over the bar and we deserved to lose. Luckily, the Wales fans were drunk and in some cases dressed as women for no apparent reason. As ever we made the best of a bad job, ignoring much of the game to entertain our hosts and ourselves with non-stop singing in the face of adversity. Not for the first time it occurred to me in Moldova that random selection of any 11 od the Wales fans, no matter how drunk, would have done better than the 11 clowns on the pitch.

 

This is the essence of Wales away, really. Despite having one of the worst times in my life in and around Moldova, I would and no doubt will, do it all again at the drop of a hat. The thrill when the draw is made for qualifying groups, working out what football outposts we can go to. How else would I have been to Moldova, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Azerbaijan and the time of my life with people who know how much it means? I’m only gutted I missed Armenia, Belarus and Georgia. The camaraderie, togetherness and sheer unbridled stupid fun of going away with a group who look out for each other come what may, meeting old friends making new friends and even getting an occasional good performance by Wales thrown in, well it’s just perfect.

 

Now, under the guidance of the deity Mark Hughes, success beckons for the first time in living memory and it’s a glorious, disorientating feeling. Used only to failure on the field and the time of our lives off it, regular travellers can scarcely believe it. Although we love it, we’ve been there all the time and are hard to impress with mere transitory greatness. We’ve been rubbish for longer than we’ve been good and we will be rubbish again. In a way, we liked being rubbish. It left us free to have a laugh, unencumbered by trouble, or working out permutations. We’ve made friends for live and loved every minute of it (apart from Belgium) and we’ll be there forever, the finest sets of fans in the world. It’s the greatest thing I have ever done. Don’t tell anyone or they will all be there.

 

 

P.S I finally saw us win in Copenhagen in 1998 and I cried. If we ever qualify, I will explode.

 

 

 

 

Brewery of the month – January

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Pivovar Svatý Florian, Loket – T. G. Masaryka 136, 357 33 Loket

Introducing for 2018, our new regular feature – Brewery of the month. As we regularly travel to all corners of the Czech Republic (and further afield), we have decided to focus on one brewery every month of the year for 2018.

First up for this is year the Pivovar Svatý Florian in the magical town of Loket, nestled in an elbow of the Ohře River flowing through the Karlovy Vary region of the Czech Republic. This area previously belonged to the Sudetenland and is as historically significant as it is breathtaking.

The brewery sits atop a bridge which reaches over the river below. Housed in a striking historical building a stones throw from the castle (like everything else in Loket, actually) the brewery is popular with German tour groups but still makes a nice stop for solo travellers or small groups. Decent 11 degree lager and generous portions of food make it a worthwhile stop, especially in a grey and cold January. Tell them we sent you.

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Banik On The Streets Of Ostrava : A Moody, Marvellous Moravian Adventure

RCS 1, Wales 1, World Cup 1994 Qualifier, 28 April 1993, Bazaly Stadium, Ostrava

 

This is the second report unearthed recently of early ‘90s far-flung voyages with Wales, a match played at a time when Czechoslovakia had just broken up, and today’s Czech Republic and Slovakia were not yet formed. This meant that Wales’ opponents were the snappily-monickered representation of Czechs and Slovaks, against whom we later drew 2-2 in an astonishing return in Cardiff.

 

It also meant that we played not in Prague but got shipped off to a tough city tucked in right by  the Polish border, the heavy-industry heartland of Ostrava, whose fans carried a fearsome reputation, and whose town was said to be a total dump. Perfect. An inaccessible, rough ugly place. I’m bang up for that.

 

As it happens, this one went down in folklore as one of  the iconic trips of the last 30 years. Even at the time it was like being in a different universe. We played in candy stripes, there was widespread trouble at all times in the main game, we drew in the u21s and the seniors, and we had a brilliant time.

 

Here’s what @chsingthedragon wrote once his head cleared a week after the game. Even now, a quarter of a century down the line, Banik is a vivid memory for those lucky enough to have found the place, and one of the trips that made Wales away something that none of us can get enough of…..

 

 

Wales away in Ostrava, 1993. Another step on the road to USA ’94. When I got home the weekend after the match, I was given a Radio Wales commentary of the match to help me relive that magical sunny night in the north of the Czech Republic. I settled down, Brains SA in hand and when the guest summariser Ian Walsh (he of the 1980 brace against England) said “the Wales fans are in great voice, here in Ostrava, but goodness knows how they got here”, To be fair, even I wasn’t sure how I had got there after a headspin of a week in industrial Czech Republic, but Walshy’s dulcet tones  transported me back to that Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago when the lucky 500 of us went manic at Banik. Let’s take it from the top….

 

Initially, I was a bit (only a bit) dubious about going in the first place. We’d lost every game we’d ever played in Czechoslovakia and the game was to be played in Ostrava, a town that the guide books described as being covered in a cloud of sulphurous smog from all the factories and sounded like a bit of a nightmare all round. Oh well, I thought, it would be a week off work, it would be cheap (important when you’re skint), Prague is rumoured to be one of the world’s greatest cities and the local beer is the best in the world. Add the chance to do a bit of cultured sightseeing (some hope!) and the fact that Sir Ryan Giggs was bound to be able to run rings around politically-confused Czechs and Slovaks and I knew I had to be there. No competition really. One phone call to Wales away stalwart Orient Rob and the trip was on, having picked up our Wrexham correspondent and accommodation expert John, aka Wrexham John, on the way.

 

We set off from dreary London on the Sunday afternoon, having opted for the sumptuous delights of 24-hour coach travel. It might sound like a nightmare, but it was 85 quid return and that meant that we’d have more pivo money to sample local culture. Ideal. All of the coach was made up of Czechs returning home after sampling the very dubious delights of England, so we settled down for a quiet few beers and a long overnight trek through France and Germany. The only notable event of the night was the stop at a German service station where the only other Wales fans on the bus were given 3 minutes to clean up the bus or get chucked off. A bit strict on the old discipline there – they’d only had a few cans of beer. Needless to say, they displayed better sweeping up skills than Clayton Blackmore and we were back on the road.

We arrived in sun-drenched Prague early Monday afternoon with the welcome news that Wrexham John (who had gone out on the bus before us) had got talking to a local girl on the journey who had the taste and grace to let us stay at her mother’s house in the flats in Prague’s suburbs. Great – a chance to have a shower and somewhere to leave our stuff for a few days. Gabriela – thanks a lot, your mother does the best breakfast omelettes that we’ve ever had. We’ll be over again in a few weeks (I wish!).

 

Early Monday night and we were off into the centre of Prague to suss out the scene and we found we could get a pint for about 10 pence, so we knew we were in for a good time. The only problem was, we knew we had to be up at 4,30am to get the train to Ostrava for the u21 game, so it was a few beers in the best pub in Europe we’d ever been in, U Fleku, and then happily home for heads down by midnight and dreams of Nathan Blake conquering the Czech youngsters the next day.

 

Tuesday morning began far too early but Gabriela’s mum did us proud by staying up all night (really!) to cook us omelettes and cake for breakfast and with a few gallons of warming tea inside us, we headed off for the first tram into the centre of Prague. This was a pretty surreal day already and that was the way it was to continue. The railway station in Prague at 6am had a heartening number of Wales fans huddled around all trying to inject liquid caffeine into themselves as quickly as possible. All aboard the 0615 to Ostrava, with our bodies on autopilot with our brains (and Brains) not yet operational. When we arrived in Ostrava 4 hours later we used all the navigational skills to get on a tram that was going in completely the wrong direction and were treated to a 45 minute free ride around the suburbs of Ostrava. It was industrial alright, but not as bad the book had said and certainly no worse than driving up the M4 past Port Talbot. And, I might add, the temperature was pushing the mid 80s. Good stuff!

Eventually we got into the town centre and the first thing we found was the players’ hotel, where our heroes had just returned from afternoon training. A few words with Ryan Giggs (“how you doing, Giggsy?” “alright, yeah”) and a shake of the hand and I was happy enough. We found ourselves a hotel (a fiver a night, damn) and found the whole corridor had been taken over by Wales fans. Same as ever. We’d discovered the u21 match was to be played in a small town called Frydek-Mistek (half an hour away by bus), so we picked up a few bottles of pivo and headed off to the bus station, still in plenty of time for the 5 o’clock kick off. After a couple more pivos in the centre of Frydek it was off by another bus to find the ground, which nestled picturesquely between the rolling hills on one side and some well-dodgy flats on the other. The ground itself was lovely and the clubhouse was overflowing with Wales boys spreading the gospel of international camaraderie. And drinking. The whole occasion was lovely – there was none of the tension you get at the main game and everyone was getting very mellow.

 

Inside the ground and strange intergalactic forces had been writing the programme notes, as there was a Cardiff City forward playing by the name of Martian Dlake. Spaceman he may have been, but he notched a great opening goal from a good cross by Lee Jones, but RCS (as they are locally known) bagged an equaliser, which I think was a header from a free-kick, but I can’t be too sure as my view was obstructed by my cup of beer. It wasn’t a great game, but Searley was solid and Lee Jones missed a real sitter at the very end, but 1-1 sent everyone back to the bar happy with life, the universe and everything. We somehow managed to miss the last bus back to Ostrava (well, the pub was open and full of locals who loved us) but the vibes were good. 24 hours to the big game and everyone was being extremely friendly. Bliss so far….

 

The Wednesday began about midday with goulash, dumplings and a few pivos to settle a dodgy stomach. Then it was off to the main square, where all the Welsh fans were gathered, to soak up the sun and the atmosphere. All the flags were well in evidence and we sang ourselves silly, much to the delight of the local TV crews. Damon Searle and a couple of the other u21 boys were lurking around and all too soon it was time to walk to the ground where, shock of all shocks, Terry Yorath gave us a load of free grandstand tickets for the match as he came off the coach. And who said the FAW are a bunch of insensitive bureaucrats? Well, me for a start, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt in this case.

The ground, the home of Banik Ostrava, was quite impressive, with open seats on 3 sides and a main stand that was Premier league standard. The whole thing was about half full (about 8000 I think). We decided to dump our stand tickets and go behind the goal with the main Welsh contingent and get on with the singing. Plenty of flags – mainly City, but also Pwllheli, Bala, Bangor, Newport, Caernarfon and (unusually) a large Swansea City flag.

 

Which brings me to my next point. At the start of the game there was a minute silence for ( as we later found out) the Zambian national side who had been killed that day on the way to their World Cup game. Right, so you respect the minute’s silence, which all the Wales fans did. (England fans at Wembley on the same night did not. That’s their problem). But one thing happened during the minute silence that has deeply upset and angered me as a Welsh supporter. As in Luxemburg in the Europeans, a Cardiff fan took it upon himself to pull the Swansea flag off the fence. Why? In fairness, some other Cardiff fans put it back up, but that’s not the whole point. This so-called attitude that Swansea fans can’t come and watch Wales makes me feel sick. If City play Swansea, I hope City win, but that’s as far as it goes and when we’re a couple of thousand miles away from home supporting our country, let’s not bother with all that rubbish, eh? I actually bumped into the Swansea lads in the bar in town after the game and they were great. Why should they feel intimidated out of going to watch Wales?

 

Anyway, back to brighter things. As you know, our team had been hit by suspension and injury so we were all a bit pensive at the start. No need to worry – the new stripy pyjamas kit put the opposition off. Sex god Clayton played sweeper like he’d never been away and Symons had no recurrence of his nightmare lapse in Brussels. Giggs was quite quiet, a combination of good marking, blatant fouls and the fact the Czechs had moved the touchline in about 10 yards. Very cunning, these East Europeans. All was going well and then we were sent to the heavens as Ryan skipped down the right pulled the ball back to Hughes on the edge of the box. A dummy, a surge and a delicate shot into the corner. We had scored for the first time ever on Czech soil and for the 9 minutes the lead lasted we made the most of it. Ok, the Czechs equalised from a move that had the look of obstruction about it and for much of the 2nd half we were penned back. No problem. In traditional style we took to singing our hearts out in the hope that the hywl would pull the team through and yet again, it did.

 

I don’t want to sound greedy but we should have won. The RCS were below strength, lacking confidence and incentive AND the crowd wasn’t behind them much. Please, Terry, let’s attack next time and do the fans justice. I can see it now – we’ll go to the Faroes, play 5-4-1 and hope for a draw. Well, perhaps not, but you take my point. Still, a World Cup point gained and we can certainly qualify now. And the team acknowledged us at the end – thanks a lot, especially to Ian Rush.

 

One element of the game is that there were frequent long running battles along the terraces, throughout most of the game. All a bit surreal as I didn’t want to be involved so just stood to the side, and watched it continuously kick off, as a slow-motion drunken backdrop to the match. At the end after the players had gone off, we ducked our heads down and did a quick exit back to Oscar’s bar in town, where we basically stayed until 6am with a random mixed crowd – they didn’t care where you were from as long as you were able to drink heavily. For all that we had been told we were certain to find our deaths in this no-nonsense town by the Polish border, the people were nice, we treated them with a bit of respect and we were then able to enjoy ourselves. Although this was only my second trip to a far-flung Wales away destination, my eyes were already on stalks at the fact you could see all these weird places, and Mark Hughes at the same time.

 

An hour or so after leaving he bar it was the train back to Prague and a chance for some sightseeing and more beers with our hosts in the evening. By this time we were totally exhausted, having had no food and virtually no sleep for 60 hours, but it was Wales away so we were on a different level of consciousness and mere human tiredness didn’t matter. This was a brilliant trip which felt like we had earned our stripes. Magical country, friendly people, Sparky scored and we drew. All’s well with the world. Onward now for tales of bobble hats, puffins and illegal booze in the Faroes. We might even win that one. Now, when’s the next bus back to Prague?