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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Brewery of the Month – May

Moritz – Nešverova 2, Olomouc

Olomouc is one of the most striking, and most historic, cities in Moravia. Famous for its baroque and Gothic architecture, it has more fountains than you can shake a stick at and boasts its very own astronomical clock to rival Prague – a clock which, in one last act of spite, was all but destroyed by the retreating German force at the end of the Second World War. Interestingly, the clock was reconstructed in the 1950s in the Socialist Realist style and features proletarians rather than saints. Now there is some debate about whether to maintain this style or revert it to its original form.

This fine student city is also home to a number of quality breweries, and after working up a thirst touring the town’s monuments it is worth taking a stop. As with every visit to Olomouc we made a quick visit to Svatováclavský pivovar on the way in to the town centre. You can’t really go wrong with this place – friendly service, great beer and it’s the place to come if you fancy a beer spa. However, on this trip we had a different brewery in mind.

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Klobasas Michal and Wingy demonstrating the beer spa at Svatováclavský pivovar

We made one more stop before our final destination – the minipivovar Riegrovka Steakhouse. Certainly not a bad choice of beers but the polished interior and awful music meant it was not our kind of boozer. The steaks do look pretty good though…

After some detours we finally made it to our goal – the Moritz minipivovar. This is certainly a favoured option if you are looking for some traditional Czech food, especially involving some of the locally made tvarůžky cheese. An acquired taste for some, but when you do acquire a preference for this smelly, sticky number there is no going back. The basement pub certainly has a rich, traditional atmosphere, and it’s a nice place to sit and have a drink by the brewing tanks. Our soups were a little slow arriving but that did mean we had time to try full pints of both the 11 and 12 degree lagers. The 11 was a particularly good choice. Moritz doesn’t have a huge range of beer options but the quality is worth stopping for, and moreover so is the food. It’s definitely on our list of places to return to next time we’re in Olomouc.

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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2017: A look back at our top trips

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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

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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’.