2017: A look back at our top trips

17453712_10158407244695501_1187566769_o

As the year draws to a close and we hammer mince pie shaped nails in to 2017, we at TBK have decided to go over some highlights from what must have been our most “interesting” year yet. From some of the most remote villages to some of the best beers, via the scrappiest games to the most beautiful castles – we have gone in search of adventures and found them at every turn. So here are some highlights from the last 12 months.

Landek Mine in Petřkovice, Ostrava

We went “mining” for points in Petřkovice and literally ended up in a mine. Attempting to win a well deserved point and pleasant service at the local restauarant proved both to be just as gruelling work. The visit to the mine was a treasure though, as was another trip to Ostrava which always seems to bring about the biggest Klobasa drinking sessions. This was no different. (Read more here)

Budapest – The Musical

TBK love a trip to Budapest anyway but this was a real highlight of 2017. After four hours in the dining car of the train along Ralph’s favourite river we arrived in Budapest to a rollercoaster of a trip which found us queing up for the whole first half of a Honved game for a second 45 minutes of purely forgettable football. And it was all downhill from there (well physcially anyway) as we ran around Hungarian’s capital taking in as many pubs as possible, Craggy getting the come-on from dodgy guys selling belts and being asked if we’d like some cocaine with our sausage. We even dreamt up a musical production. Click here to find the soundtrack – apologies in advance.

The Hunt For Pav the Drummer in Blansko

As far as happy endings go the finale to this trek through the snowy streets of Blansko on the hunt for our missing game-day drummer is right up there. Early in the year we braved 90 minutes of below freezing tempatures watching the mighty Blansko host Bohunice before we went off in search of Pavel, who had been missing for many months from the Blansko stands. Our search took us to several pubs in this industrial Moravian second home of ours before a spectacular conclusion in the final pub we tried.

Milan Pacanda – Lost and Found

Although you may well have never heard of him, Milan Pacanda could have been one of the European greats alongside other famous Czech names. This year he was at Vicemilice, where one third of TBK headed to catch a glimpse of his footballing genius. (Read the full story here).

Opava

23592451_10159578032960501_4670660706356879107_o

Opava is a nice town in itself but a trip there was extra special this year. We visited it on 17th November – the anniversary of the fall of communism in the Czech Republic, and we began the trip in the small town of Hradec nad Moravaci which has a pretty fancy castle and a great “post office” pub. The highlight though turned out to be the game of the season – Opava came from 1 – 2 down to win 3 – 2, scoring 2 goals in the last 20 minutes. Crackin’.

Kid Gloves

Wingy, Wingy, Wingy

Wingy, Wingy, Wingy

With it being the end of the year we’ve been running a bit behind with all things Klobasa as we attempt to get to grips with cold, hard reality. So, in the run up to Christmas we will be catching up with a few pieces about touring Moravia and also the end of the football season, before we begin our annual countdown of good tidings. Wingy, who has a new dog, takes us back to the home game against Polna. Take it away Wingster…

If you’ve been following this blog (and why wouldn’t you?) you will be aware that Blansko have been having a rough time of it of late. Two five-nil defeats in a row away from home, no home wins, and only one win overall would suggest a team in crisis. And yet there have been reasons to suggest that things might get better, as the young team start to gel .

We weren’t expecting a great deal from our latest home game, as it was against third-placed Polná. The last time I’d seen Polná was the season before last when we beat them 3-1 to gain promotion to the MSFL.. That day we had a crowd of nearly 1100, but when we arrived we were shocked to see  a crowd of maybe a tenth of that. But one good thing – the re-appearance of Pavel the drummer, who was back on tannoy duties. This time around we were minus Craggy, who was rehearsing with his band (and nursing a monster hangover,apparently). Unfortunately for him, he missed a cracker, as Blansko started with all guns blazing (not a cliche that I’ve needed to use much of late, it has to be said). And the pressure paid off just ten minutes in, as after a spell of sustained pressure with Blansko forcing three corners on the trot, the third swung deep into the penalty area and there to head it in was the ever-dependable Honza Trtílek. Better was to come in the thirty-second minute,this time Luboš Chloupek netting after a rather fortunate rebound fell virtually at this feet. After that, the result was never much in doubt. And so it was for the rest of the game. Polná were deeply unimpressive, and seldom seriously troubled our goal, whereas they were handicapped by having a keeper who resembled Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce (and I don’t mean in his playing days. I mean Bruce now). Blansko, for their part, played some nice football, with Trtílek yet again a cut above , and Martin Smerda impressive in midfield, until subbed for his son, Domiík I like the look of Smerda Junior (I’ve already dubbed him ‚The Blansko Juninho‘ and for a Middlesbrough fan there is no higher honour), he’s got a lot of promise, although he’s got a long way to go before he’s the finished article (and he’s so short that he has to tuck one side of his shirt into his shorts, or he’ll look like he’s wearing a mini-dress). And a special mention must go to reserve keeper Zdeněk Veselý, who despite his young age (he’s 17) came in and did an excellent job. Blansko have been lucky to have had a couple of excellent keepers in recent years in David Juran and Jirka Floder, so hopefully he will follow in their footsteps and become an FKB regular. Well done kid!

So, an enjoyable day. A home win (at last), a good team performance and some pleasing individual performances. The most enjoyable game I’ve seen for quite some time! Come on Blansko!

 

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.

IMG-20171001-WA0002

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.

IMG-20171001-WA0003

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.

IMG-20171001-WA0004

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

 

 

 

TISNOV HAVE THE HORN – BLANSKO GET SHAFTED

IMG_20170910_180404_270

If you support a small club, you get used to there being ups and downs (or even quite big clubs – the lower leagues in England have several teams who were playing in the Premier League not so long ago, such as Portsmouth and Coventry City. And former league teams like York City, Stockport County and Darlington now play in the sixth tier). It’s something which you accept, as it is extremely difficult for a small club to punch above its weight for very long. The Klobasa have already seen two promotions and one relegation, and now we are on a downswing, and are probably facing going down again. Following relegation last season, Blansko lost a lot of their best players (including, it must be said, some who were the subject of our best songs) and have this season promoted last term’s successful youth team, with the obvious result of us having, with a few exceptions, a very young, inexperienced team. And it was this team that we came to see at Tisnov. The Klobasa were on a little high after seeing in our previous trip a decent performance and a one-nil win at Velka Biteš. But Ralph had a warning for us, as he was expecting a thumping. And so it came to pass.

I had made my way to Tisnov seperately, and the day started well enough when I found that I wouldn’t have to spend 50 minutes in the thoroughly unlovely town of Kuřím waiting for a connection. And I met up with the other Klobasas (and occasional guest Klobasa and Tisnov resident, Michal) in the centre (following a detour due to misunderstanding directions given (a salutary lesson for an English teacher). The walk to the ground involves a path under a tunnel of horrible creepiness, and then comes to a gate in a wall which brings to mind an entrance to allotments. Inside it’s not much better – the standard formula for a lot of grounds at this level (like Blansko) of the changies, bar, toilets etc in a building on one side, and main stand on the other. Although ‚stand‘ over-dignifies it, as seating capacity (unlike Blansko) is less than three figures, and barely two. And Ralph assured us (and he seems to know these things) that they were going to build a new stadium next door.

IMAG1107

To say things started badly was an understatement. Tisnov, who were fielding no less than seven former Blansko players (including the increasingly‚ circumferentially challenged Petr Svancara) were straight at it from the start, and it was little surprise when they went ahead after only three minutes, and a second was added after 13. It was quickly apparent that Blansko were totally outclassed and the priority was to prevent a rout. To add insult to Injury, Tisnov had thein own drummer, a strange little man who had a black curly wig (although no moustache, so this wasn’t some sort of Scouser homage), and a trumpet. (Our own Pav the Drummer has gone AWOL again, and is sorely missed. Pav, are you out there?). On our side of the pitch was someone with a vuvuzela (for those of you unfamiliar with this instrument, it’s a type of plastic horn which first made an appearance at the South Africa World Cup in 2010, and makes a horrible, mournful honking sound, and was promptly banned from British grounds, thank god.) and the two were making a call and response which was suggestive of sexually-frustrated geese. Tisnov added a third goal before half time, so that was game over, although in truth it had been from the third minute.

IMAG1111

The second half started where the first left off with Tišnov adding a fourth while Ralph and I were still getting the beers in. And of course it had to be Svancara who got it. And that was about it. Tišnov added a fifth later from a free kick, but they’d already stepped down a gear, so it meant FKB avoided too much humiliation.

So, not much to cheer about this time round. The new keeper had a bit of a nightmare against an excellent team, the defence well-nigh non-existent (oh for Standa Pišek to return!), and poor Honza Trtilek was ploughing a lone furrow up front. There was some promise – Dominik Smerda had a decent game considering. But not much else. Ah well. As Ralph says, it’s going to be a long hard season.