That’s your Lanžhot

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Student: What are you doing this weekend?

Craggy: Going to Lanžhot.

Student: Why? There is nothing there.

Oh, how wrong could you be…

Last time my student and I had this very same conversation was about a forthcoming trip to the Slovak town of Myjava. That time he had been right, but our next trip was to be a completely different experience. One of the best things about a new season in the 4th tier of Czech football is anticipating the new arrivals to the league. This gives us the opportunity to go boldly in to the unknown; and in to pubs that others dare not tread. One such opportunity came early this year as Blansko’s second game of the season was away to Lanžhot, a small town resting on the Slovak border, and a reasonable walk away from everyone’s favourite train interchange of Břeclav.

We arrived in Břeclav with the summer sun rising slowly above us. Slightly disoriented from the heat of the train carriage we walked in circles before finding ourselves somewhat fortuitously on a dusty old trail heading in to the forest nearby.

It was not long before we came to an old looking pub sitting idly by the path. Normally, we go busting into any pub we see, no questions asked, but there was a sleepy stillness resting over this one despite the chalkboards being placed outside. We rang an old, bronze bell that hung in the doorway, but no one answered. We could hear murmurings somewhere from an open window and so paced around the pub earnestly, but delicately. We rang once more and finally a woman came down to greet us, bidding us inside and asking, cheerfully ‘can you not see we’re open?’.

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We sat inside the old wooden hut with a cold lager and drank happily with the landlady, before saying our goodbyes and heading back on to the road and deeper in to the forest. For a little while the road was quiet and the air still, but after some time we could see a few people up ahead and what turned out to be the archaeological site at Pohansko.

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From there we came across the first of several bunkers placed among the trees (just some of the many that were constructed between the wars by the Czechoslovak government due to the prospect of invasion). Before us was an large expansive, dry field leading up to early 19th century castle of Pohansko. This area offers up even more archaeological sites, revealing sections of the early medieval site that was situated here in the 9th century, and which was one the largest medieval strongholds in central Europe.

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The Pohansko Castle itself sits majestically at the top of the field, with it’s light-coloured walls shining brightly on a sunny afternoon. Luckily for us it also has at least three bars which you can swiftly grab a beer in a plastic cup to accompany you for the next part of the walk. We took a moment for a couple of photos before heading even further in to the forest.

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One thing that soon struck us was that some of the most recognisable trees here are given characters. Signs are posted in front of several, detailing their given names and characteristics. A nice touch we thought.

Out in the open, before dehydration took us and left us dead among the sunflower fields, we made it in to the small town of Lanžhot. Before us, like a mirage through fading eyes, was a pub, decorated in the flowery blue motifs familiar to this part of the world. We entered in search of sustenance.

Landlord: Can’t you read?

Ralph: Sorry?

Landlord: Members only. You want to drink. Drink outside.

And thus is the result of the smoking ban. He wasn’t unpleasant. Just rather direct.

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We had our beers and headed to another pub for some fantastic goulash soup. On each table was a plastic fly swatter, just in case you wanted to bash any flies, or your drunk mates. After some soup and some bashing we made our way to the Lanžhot stadium.

Stadion Na Šlajsi, the home of TJ Sokol Lanžhot is one of the biggest in the league, with a main stand and three terraced sides, we were quite excited to see it and by the size of the crowd (690) we weren’t the only ones. The home side were promoted to the 4th tier of Czech football for the first time since 1959, so this was obviously a big day for the locals.

And the crowd contributed so much to the game, cheering on every attack the home side had. It’s so rare that we see such a partizan crowd in the league, that I think both of us enjoyed it.

The first half was of course controlled by us, which is not surprising considering the spine of our team, Dolezel, Mezlik and Buchta have over 400 league games experience between them. However, the clear cut chances were created by Lanzhot. A header just wide and a shot which skimmed the bar were enough to keep the home fans excited and also sent us towards the bar. Half-time 0-0.

The second 45 went much the same as the first, with the home side attacking with purpose, but with no end product and with Blansko continuing to run the midfield, it was no surprise that we finally opened the scoring with 11 minutes remaining through the impressive Dominik Urbančok – who weaved his way between two defenders before hitting home from just inside the box. 1-0 Blansko and game over. We spent the last ten minutes controlling position and offering the Lanzhot no way back. Our second win of the season.

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So a positive and exciting exploration between two towns close to the border was topped off by some thrilling 4th tier football. If ever we needed confirmation of why we do what we do – this was it.

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Blansko put Rosice to Bed(nář)

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Our second home game of the season, saw the return of The Blansko Klobasa’s Chris “Wingy” Wing to the Udolni stadium, Here’s his report on the Rosice home game. Good to have you back Wingy.

New season, new Blansko. There have been big changes at Udolni since last season, especially as the club seem to have got some money from down the back of the sofa. Many familiar faces have gone, or have been relegated to squad members, (and with them a good 60% of our songs). Most difficult to take for TKB was the loss of perennial favourite, Honza Trtílek, who has now moved on to Rosice, whom we were playing next. Now, if we are honest (and we try to be), Honza has not really been firing on all cylinders for quite some time due to some recurrent injury problems holding him back. But sometimes fans are more sentimental than practical, and the change will probably do him some good. We will still miss seeing him playing in Blansko’s colours. Good luck to you, Honza.

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What has made up for the loss of some favourites are the replacements who have come in. In the opening game (which I missed, due to being in Berlin at the time) we hammered Humpolec 5-1, despite going a goal down. The other Klobasas were there, and reported that FKB were in complete control, and never looked like losing. Likewise in the following game, which Ralph and Craggy also saw (me being in Slovakia this time), and resulting in a less emphatic, but still deserved, 1-0 away win at Lanžhot. Now, as regular readers of this blog are aware of, The Klobasa have a soft spot for Rosice. It’s a nice little town to visit (apart from the massive flight of steps linking the station to the main street. But that’s another story…), has a terrific little ground which we are rather jealous of, and some of the best, and the most fanatical home fans you’ll see at this level (although I am assured by the other Klobasas that Lanžhot’s fans were mightily impressive too). It’s actually quite strange really – you get small towns like Rosice and Lanžhot that have fans with passion and enthusiasm, but you also get places which are much bigger, like Vyškov and Přerov, where it’s like watching a game in a public library. I just don’t get it at all.

Our other reason for liking Rosice is that Blansko always seem to do well against them – we seem to reserve some of our most impressive performances for this fixture. And this game was no exception. Rosice were sitting pretty at the top of the league at start of play, having won their previous game 8-1. So, there was a little trepidation as to how this one was going to go. But our doubts were unfounded. Blansko bossed this from the start, playing some very impressive flowing football, and it was no great surprise when we took the lead on 16 minutes. The very impressive Dominik Urbančok picked up the ball about 20 metres out, and hit it arrow-straight into the bottom right corner of the net. (So accurate was it that both Craggy and I let out a little sigh of disappointment, having thought it had just hit the side-netting). And it only took another 6 minutes for the game to be effectively over, as a Blansko corner was blatently handled , with new Captain Fantastic, David Bednař, easily converting the resulting penalty (it’s a mark of how quickly he has been accepted by the Klobasa that he has his own song already). Blansko were now in complete control of the game, with Rosice at a loss how to break down our stalwart back-four, and us looking like we were going to score every time we attacked. Once again, young Dominik Smerda was outstanding on the wing (we are surely not going to be able to hang on to him for too long. He really deserves to be playing at a higher level).Although he was taken off at half-time, presumably because he had taken a knock.

The second half started a little disjointedly, probably as a result of Smerda’s absence, but we soon settled down, and further goals were to come, first from Chloupek, and a second for Bednař, who was without doubt Man of the Match. Another positive sign is a very healthy crowd of nearly 500.All in all, a good day.

So, we retained our 100% start to the season. And thus far we look more than capable of winning this league. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring.

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Blansko “seas” the day in Trebic

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A few years ago as an icebreaker with one of my post-secondary school classes, I asked them all to prepare a joke. The following day, Petr stood up and asked me to name the three most famous beaches in the world. “Copacabana, Rhosilli and …..” , before I could name a third he shouted out “Trebic” (Tre beach) – a poor joke, but it got a lot of laughs and helped the lesson no ends.

Trebic is in a landlocked country and of course it doesn’t have a beach, but it does have a brewery and a football team… so, a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

This was our first away day of the spring season, I don’t really count Stara Risa two weeks ago as the game was played 27km away from their home ground in Jihlava on astro.

Blansko have started the second half of the season, much the same as they did the autumn, a bit hit and miss. The first game was cancelled, the second game we threw away a half time lead to lose 3-1 and then bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Velka Bites. So, we weren’t sure what to expect in Trebic, apart from a good day out.

The squad has been strengthened recently with the signings of the league’s top scorer, Tomas Sodomka, defender Vit Barta and the midfield trio of Dvorak, Kouldan and Petrik.. It looks as though the club had panicked at the thought of dropping down another division and bought a whole new spine of the team. Welcome boys.

We set off as we always do, from Brno Hlavni Nadrazi, Trebic bound with a couple of cans of Radegast to brighten up the trip.

The journey was a splendid one, the train takes you up and bit further up to the heart of the Czech Moravian highlands. We were met by a station guard and sunshine. Ahh, the sun where have you been for the past 6 months.. We were both pleased to see it and by the fact that we able to bask in it for the rest of our trip, we could say the sun was happy to see us too. Hip.. hip..

We always have a plan for days like this and Trebic is blessed with some wonderful tourist sights. The Jewish quarter is one of the best preserved in the world and rightly placed in the UNESCO heritage sight. So, over the river we went to the first port of call, Masaryk’s veiwpoint offering us a lovely view of the city. We are not sure why it’s named after the country’s first president, there’s not a town or city in the Czech Republic which doesn’t have something to remember Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, so Trebic built a view point.

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From there we took a walk past the city walls and down to the Jewish quarter to find the wonderful Cafe Art.

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After our first beer of the day, a delightful Dalesice 11, it was off to the brewery for some nosh and a quick look Basilica. Luckily for us, the kind folk of Trebic built the brewery right next to the monument, giving us the possibility to kill two birds with one beer.

Podklasterni Brewery will definitely feature in our brewery of the month, so I won’t bore you with the details. The highlight of our brief stay there was definitely the goulash soup, the lowlight was the gentleman on the table next to us. Obviously new to technology, he bellowed into his phone so loudly, my mother messaged me from her home in Cardiff to ask him to keep the noise down.

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Onto the game – the stadium in Trebic is one of our favourites in the league.. A covered terrace is a rarity at this level, but Trebic have one and it’s delightful. Our first stop was of course, the club house, where we were greeted by some familiar faces and the obligatory shot of slivovice, which we declined – work the next day, so we stuck to our beer and walked around the pitch to find a spot in the sun.

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As mentioned earlier in the post, Blansko had recently strengthened and it was our new striker, Tomas Sodomka who opened the scoring in 14th minute. Picking the ball up on the left-hand side of the penalty area, he neatly cut inside a bent the ball into the far corner.. If we’d had a song for him, we would have… honest.

The team continued to press and impress throughout the first half against a poor Trebic team. It’s no wonder they are adrift at the bottom of the table. We created chance after chance, but surprisingly couldn’t add to the Sodomka goal. We went in at the break just the one goal in front.

The second 45 was very much a brim full of Blansko on the 45..with us creating havoc with our two new wingers. The biggest surprise was that we finally clinched victory in 79th minute. A penalty gave Sodomka his second,Blansko 3 points and us, a celebratory pivo. Psikal wrapped it up with a 3rd goal with four minutes left to send us all home happy.

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One thing that I enjoy is that the players always come over to thank us for our support with a high five… I think it’s a nice gesture at the end of the game, only if we have won, naturally.

A couple of the players stayed behind to chat to us about holidays and the demise of Tisnov before being summoned back to changing rooms for their own private celebration.

For us it was a beer at the closest pub to the station and train home to Brno with the points safely tucked into our rucksack.

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A 2-0 defeat is “Hrad” to take in Břeclav

 

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As many may know the Klobasa likes a good walk, and with the summer coming to a close we thought we’d take the opportunity to get a good trek in before the rainy season begins. With Blansko travelling away to Breclav, Ralph suggested we could take a train to the village of Lednice and get a couple of beers and castles in before we wander through the forest to the game.

We set of from Hlavní nádraží (thankfully open again) early. Too early in fact to find an open bar upon our arrival in Lednice. Being quite a small place (approx 2000 people) we walked around it three times until one of the pub doors opened, and stepped inside with anticipation of beer and breakfast. U Volhy unfortunately, could only provide us with a liquid breakfast this time but we weren’t complaining. We followed up by buying some cheese biscuits and a couple of beers for the journey from the corner shop and we were off.

Castle number 1 was Lednice itself. Which sparked off some debate about what a castle actually is. In Czech Lednice is a ‘Zamek’ which translates to many as ‘castle’ but we are not convinced Lednice is a castle, more a chateau or, as Ralph threw in there, a stately home. Regardless, it is a dominating feature of the town and sits nicely for a photo or two in the picturesque gardens which encircle it. We didn’t go in. We had other things to do.

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We headed in to the woods and cracked open a beer and didn’t even have time to finish it before finding the next watering hole at castle number 2 – Januv Hrad (John’s Castle). And there you have it – ‘hrad’ translates as ‘castle’. I took this debate in to a lesson and no one could agree on a final outcome. Anyway, to us it looked more like a castle, if a bit small.

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Finishing up both a pint and our cans we headed deep in to the dark woods on our way to Breclav. The sky was overcast, threatening to open up above us – the forest dark and foreboding with winding paths in all directions. We were surrounded by trees, but we were brave and we strode on following the green (or is that blue to Ralph?) signposts and towards the next pub. We emerged from the forest behind us to the welcoming sight of the Breclav brewery. It was of course, not open to us, so we headed in the Zimni Stadion, listening to the thunder of hockey above us and ordered a schnitzel and potatoes – the only thing on the menu. The beer was bad enough not to finish – this is a rare occasion!

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Breclav also has a castle (zamek), and it’s er… shall we say, not the most beautiful. Never would we usually venture to be so negative, but really, it could do with a little TLC… or a bulldozer.

One thing we like perhaps more than a good walk, is an old pub with ‘atmosphere’ – and we certainly found one in Hospode na Rožku. We entered and ducked the darts being thrown over our head while stepping around the swinging regulars to take a place at the bar. We thrive on places like this, but are aware they are not everyone’s cup of tea. A good pint of beer though.

We got to the ground and put the flag up opposite one of the best stands in the game. The tall stand leaning against a house is becoming something of an attraction to lower league supporters of the game, and was indeed the most positive thing of the game – for us anyway. There were some promising performances from Blansko in the game but the lads just couldn’t find their feet against the better side in a 2 – 0 defeat of which there can’t be many complaints. It’s been a difficult start to the season, but one or two good performances should give the team some confidence – it just didn’t work here today. Our star striker Honza Trtilek came over at the end of the game to thank us… and offer us a 10% discount at Kaufland, for which we were grateful.

 

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On the way to the station we stopped in the Three Oranges and faced the unwelcoming atmosphere there for most likely our last time. One poor beer down and we jumped on the dining car for our last lager of the evening – taking us in to the beautiful sunset of  the Moravian autumn.

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