Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winter season

The winter off-season is just about here. As such, I won't be going to any games for the next month or so. Winter training matches usually begin the first week of January, so you can expect some updates around then. In the meantime, I will write some posts about games I have been to in the past, in Wales, England, Canada and a few other countries.

November 21st - Gambrinus Liga - Brno 0 České Budějovice 2

November 21st, 2009
Gambrinus Liga
Brno 0 České Budějovice 2
Attendance: 3111 (away support 0)
Admission: 80kc
Game rating: 5/10 (couldn't see much of the 2nd half because of fog)

I've been meaning to get to Brno for the past two years, as it isn't far from where I live. For whatever reason, I never managed to get there until last weekend. Brno is the 2nd largest city in the Czech Republic, but their football club has rarely challenged for the first division title.

The ground is in the north part of the city called Kralovo Pole. It is easiest to reach by taking a tram from the train station for about 20 minutes. From there, it is about a 5 minute walk to the stadium. You can also take trolley bus 32 from the Česká stop, which is located just north of the city centre.

As for the stadium, I'm sure it use to have a larger capacity when it was mostly terraces. It just has a look of a stadium which was renovated. Three sides are open to the elements, so make sure you bring an umbrella if it looks like its going to rain. The stands are set a little further than normal from the pitch. As it stands right now, capacity is around 12,500. Average crowds are probably around 4,000-5,000, which means it can be hard to create an atmosphere. However, the ultras behind one of the goals do their best to create an atmosphere.

The match itself was kind of disappointing, but this had more to do with the fog. It rolled in during the second half, and made viewing the ball in the far end of the pitch nearly impossible. You couldn't even see the stand behind the goal.

České Budějovice were sitting near the bottom of the table going into this game, and desperately needed the three points. However, Brno have been struggling over the past few rounds. They even lost 5-0 away to Sigma Olomouc. The Brno supporters are starting to show their displeasure at these results, and were quite when the final whistle blew and Česke Budějovice defeated their hosts 2-0. All in all, it was not a bad day out.

This weekend is the last round of Gambrinus Liga matches. The lower leagues finished a few weeks back. The first division starts up in a few months, closely followed by the other leagues. However, winter training games starts in January, and I expect to head out to a few games.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 14th - FIFA Friendly - Macedonia 3 Canada 0

November 14, 2009 - Strumica
FIFA Friendly
Macedonia 3 Canada 0
Attendance: 5,000 (soldout)
Admission: 300mkd
Distance travelled: 3,500km

This game was originally scheduled to be played at the national stadium in Skopje, but the Macedonian FA decided to switch it over to the town of Strumica (50,000). National team games are rarely played outside of Skopje, so this was a big deal for the people of Strumica. It is located in southern Macedonian, about 30km north of Greece and 20km to the west of Bulgaria.

As a Canadian living in the Czech Republic, I made the trip to Macedonia. It was a early morning on Friday, as I had to leave at 5am to get to the Prague airport. From there, I flew to Skopje, and then took a dodgy taxi to the city centre. For anyone who has flown into the Skopje airport, you will know that the taxi cabs are unregulated. So, one must haggle. The first offer was 30 euros, which was ridiculous. I finally found someone for around 18 euros. Once I got to the Skopje bus station, I waited around for the bus to Strumica, which is about 3 hours away (175km).

There were only 2 Canadian supporters at the game, including me. Watching Canada away from home, is certainly not like watching England, Scotland etc where thousands show up. Many of the Macedonians seemed to be surprised that any Canadian supporters were at the game. We had a lot of requests for pictures.

The stadium is about a 10 minute walk north of the city centre. From the outside it looks quite run down, but the stands have recently been renovated. The pitch was in awful shape, thanks to constant rain over the week.

Canada was dominated for most of the first half, even though it ended 0-0. The play was slightly more even in the second half, despite Macedonia scoring three goals. Incredibly, the game had four penalty kicks. Macedonia scored on their two, but Canada missed both of theirs. The visitors couldn't match the size and physical play of the hosts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 25, 2009 - Olomoucký Kraj Přebor - HFK Olomouc "B" 4 Kralice na Hané 1

October 25, 2009
Olomoucký Kraj Přebor - 5th division
HFK Olomouc "B" 4 Kralice na Hané 1
Admisson: 20kc
Attendance: 60
Game rating: 6.5/10
Distance travelled: 45km

HFK Olomouc "B" play their games in Hodolany, which is just behind the main train station in Olomouc. The ground is perhaps a 10 minute walk away. The main ground of HFK Olomouc is a few kilometers away in Holice. I had been meaning to get to Hodolany for a few years, but I kept being put off by the 10:15 Sunday morning kickoff.

It is worth noting a little history about the ground in Hodolany. FK Hodolany was established in 1912, which made it one of the oldest clubs in Moravia. In the 2004/05 season, they played in the Olomoucký Kraj Přebor, but after theyseason finished the club dissolved into HFK Olomouc. Thus, the reason why HFK "B" now play in Hodolany, because they own the ground. In a way, it is too bad, that a club with such a long history as FK Hodolany, ended in a merger.

There is one main stand at the ground, and I could definitely tell that it was quite old. It perhaps has a capacity of 300-400 people, and it is in need of some repair. However, there are not too many stands still around which have the same type of look.

The game was completely one sided, with the hosts dominating the majority of the play. It was not until the last 10 to 15 minutes that Kralice started to get some run of play.

October 24, 2009 - Olomoucký Kraj - 1. B Třída Skupina A - Haná Nezamyslice 2 Haná Prostějov 1a

October 24, 2009
Olomoucký Kraj - 1. B Třída Skupina A - 7th division
Haná Nezamyslice 2 Haná Prostějov 1
Attendance: 70
Admission: 15kc
Game rating: 6/10
Beer: 20kc
Distance travelled: 40km

Nezamyslice is a small village of a few thousand located 20km south of Prostějov. So, the game last weekend was something of a local derby.

I had been to Nezamyslice a few years back for a game, but I cannot seem to remember who I saw, or what the score was. The ground is located a short 15 minute walk from the train station. It has a stand with around 100 seats, but most people choose to lean against the railings surrounding the pitch.

The hosts, going into the game were sitting near the bottom of the table, but they had been competitive in most of their games. Despite this, I was hoping that Prostějov would come away from the game with a hard fought three points. A few things prevented this from happening. One was that Prostejov really struggled in front of the net, and the other was offside trap which was used quite effectively by Nezamyslice. In the end, this was one of those games, where you leave and wonder how did Prostějov manage to lose?

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 18th, 2009 - Jihomoravský Kraj - Vyškov Okres - III Třída Skupina A - Sokol Chvalkovice 2 Rychtářov 3

October 18, 2009
Jihomoravský Kraj - Vyškov Okres - III Třída Skupina A (9th level)
Sokol Chvalkovice na Hané 2 Rychtářov 3 (2:0)
Admission: 20kc
Attendance: 40
Game rating: 8/10
Distance travelled: 45km

The village of Chvalkovice na Hané is a small village of under 1,000 which lies on the border of the Olomoucký and Jihomoravský regions. I did not spend much time in the actual village, as I arrived only a few minutes before the kick-off. The pitch is easy enough to reach from the train station, as it is right across the tracks. There was no stand to speak of at the pitch, but there were benches scattered around. The team benches were dug into a hill, as such, they were elevated above the pitch. For a club of this level, the grass was in near perfect condition.

As for the game, it was cold and windy. I was happy that I brought my gloves and toque. The home side had a 2-0 lead, but they completely fell apart in the second half. Rychtářov scored three unanswered goals in the 2nd half to grab the three points. With the win, Rychtářov moved into fourth place, seven points behind first (promotion place)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 11/09 - Olomoucký Kraj - 1. B Třída - Skupina A - Kostelec na Hané 3 Haná Prostějov 2

October 11, 2009
Olomoucký Kraj - 1 B Třída - Skupina A
Kostelec na Hané 3 Haná Prostějov 2
Attendance: 150
Admission: 15kc
Game rating: 8/10
Beer: Černa Hora 20kc
Distance travelled: 10km

Kostelec na Hané is a town of around 2,000 people located a few kilometers from Prostějov, so the game last weekend was something of a local derby.

The pitch in Kostelec is located a short 5 minute walk from the train station. Recently, the ground was redeveloped, and the location of the pitch was changed. As such, the grass is in pretty good condition.

I obviously have a little bias towards Prostějov, but I still feel like they deserved to get at least a point from the game. Kostelec scored on a penalty, and their keeper scored from about 90 meters out. He kicked the ball, the wind took it, and it bounced about 5 meters in front of the keeper and into the net to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Perhaps, the Haná keeper could have dealt with it a little better, but it was just one of those balls. It came down quickly, and took a huge bounce off of the ground. Despite this, Prostějov played hard and pressured Kostelec for the duration of the match, but could not find the tying goal.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 4/09 - Olomoucký Kraj - 1. B Třída - Skupina A - Tatran Všechovice 0 Haná Prostějov 4

October 4th, 2009
Olomoucký Kraj - 1. B Třída - Skupina A (7th level)
Tatran Všechovice 0 Haná Prostějov 4
Attendance: 110
Admission: 20kc
Game rating: 7.5/10
Beer: Radegast 18kc
Distance travelled: 180km

I went the Všechovice in May to see Prostějov play during the 2008/09 season. Yesterday, I made the return trip for the same reason. This time I took a train from Prostějov-Olomouc-Hulin-Rajnochovice. After getting off the train in Rajnochovice, I walked the 5km to Všechovice. On the way back I took a bus from Všechovice to Hranice na Morave. From there a train to Olomouc and finally to Prostějov. Needless to say, Všechovice isn't the easiest place to get to on a Sunday.

Last year, Prostějov was out scored by Všechovice 8-1 in two games, with Všechovice just missing out on a promotion spot. This year, both clubs were in the top 6 going into the game.

The hosts were awarded a penalty in the first minute, but the Haná keeper stopped the shop with some help from the post. This set the tone of the game. I don't think I have seen Prostějov ever play as well as they did yesterday in the two years I have been watching them play. The turning point was obviously the penalty save, but Prostějov also scored the first goal of the game on the last play of the 1st half. The second half was dominated by the visitors, as they scored three goals.

Olomoucký Kraj - 1. B Třída - Skupina A (after 9 rounds)
1. Horní Moštěnice 9gp, 8w, 0d, 1l - 24pts
2. Haná Prostějov 9gp, 6w, 1d, 2l - 19pts
3. FK Býškovice 9gp, 6w, 1d, 2l - 19pts
4. Sigma Lutín 9gp, 5w, 1d, 3l - 16pts
5. Sokol Tovačov 9gp, 5w, 1d, 3l - 16pts
6. Tatran Všechovice 9gp, 5w, 0d, 4l - 15pts

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September 19, 2009 - Olomoucký Kraj - Okresní Přebor Jeseníky - Baník Kobylá 2 FC Mikulovice B 4

September 30th, 2009
Olomoucký Kraj - Okresní Přebor Jeseníky (8th level)
Baník Kobylá 2 FC Mikulovice B 4
Attendance: 40
Admission: Free
Beer: Hanušovice 18kc
Game Rating: 7/10

Kobylá is a small village of around 500 people located just north of the Jeseníky mountains. Getting there is easiest by train. All in all, I spent about 10 hours on the train, to travel 300km. This is to be expected, as the train from Olomouc chugs slowly through the mountains. The Jeseníky area is one of my favourite areas to watch a game. It is about a 10 minute walk from the train station to the village.

The ground at Kobylá was basic. It had a few benches running down the sides, and a small area to sit down outside of the wooden 'pub'. The pitch wasn't in the best shape, as the grass was long, there were mounds of dirt, and parts of the pitch weren't level. I watched as the Mikulovice team walked up to the pitch, and they had a look of 'we are playing here?'. With that being said, full credit to Kobylá for putting out a team year after year, despite losing the majority of their games. I was kind of surprised they didn't charge at least 10kc for admission, as it would be a source of income.

Mikulovice first team plays in the Czech 4th division, and their "B" team were near the top of the Okresní Přebor. Given the history of Kobylá, I was expecting a blowout. However, the hosts have certainly improved from the last time I saw them in the Spring. They have picked up a few players, who could be playing at a higher level. If they had a little more luck on their side, they could have snatched a draw from the game today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 16, 2009 - Olomoucký Kraj Přebor - FK Šternberk 1 FK Jeseník 1

September 16th, 2009
Olomoucký Kraj Přebor (5th level)

FK Šternberk 1 FK Jeseník 1
Attendance: 130 (7 away supporters)
Admission: 25kc
Game rating: 5/10

Šternberk is a short 1 hour train ride from where I live, but over the past few years I have never managed to get there for a football game. It is a small town of 14,000. The town can be considered a tourist stop, as there is an interesting castle and monastery just north of the town centre. Some random history about the town, the Swedes controlled it from 1645-1650. In 1741 the town was briefly held by the Prussians.

The football stadium is a 5-minute walk from the train/bus station. It is located beside the hockey stadium. There is one stand which can hold a few hundred. Across the pitch, there are a few cement steps. Around the pitch there is evidence of an old four lane athletics track.

Going into this game, I expected the visitors to get an easy win. At the time, they were in first place, and Šternberk only had one win. Jeseník never seemed to get up for the game, but a draw was probably a fair result for both sides.

In other Šternberk related news, the local hockey team did not get their 2nd division (3rd level) license, and thus will not be playing this year. I think they didn't get their license for some financial reasons. Hopefully, they will be able to make a return next year.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 10, 2009 - 2.liga - Tescoma Zlín 0 Viktoria Žižkov 1

September 10, 2009
2. liga

Tescoma Zlín 0 Viktoria Žižkov 1
Attendance: 2000 (away support 15)
Admission: 5okc and 70kc
Game raing: 4/10
Beer: Gambrinus 20kc

A battle of the two relegated teams from the Gambrinus Liga last year. Both clubs are sitting in the top half of the 2.liga, but they are a little off promotion race.

The game was a 17:00 Thursday kick-off, because the Zlín ground is being redeveloped. They are going to install a heated pitch, which is now required for all clubs who are in, or want to be in, the Gambrins Liga. As such, Zlín will play their home games in the town of Kunovice, which is about 20kc south.

The stadium is easy enough to find. It is located about a 10 minute walk north of the city center. I think it has been modernized over the past few years, as I don't remember a stand on one side of the pitch. It looks quite new, but the last time I saw a Zlín game on television was about 5 years ago. So, perhaps it isn't that new?

There was some minor crowd trouble at the game, but this was centered around Zlín supporters and the security.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September 3rd, 2009 - Czech Cup 2nd round- SK Líšeň 1 Sigma Olomouc 3

September 3rd, 2009 - Czech Cup 2nd round
SK Líšen 1 Sigma Olomouc 3
Attendance: 820 (away support of 8)
Admission: 80kc
Game rating: 6/10
Beer: Starobrno of course

Apologies, as I don't know how to make the 'n' with the little mark above it in Líšen. A few years back Líšen were in the fourth division, and they hosted Slavia Praha in the Czech Cup. Before a huge crowd, Líšen knocked off Slavia Praha. In the next round they went on to play Viktoria Žižkov, but they ended up losing. Despite this, I suspect they made a little money off of these games, which have in turn been reinvested into the club. They are now building a stand, which you can see in one of the pictures I posted. It would seem to me that this is a club who are hoping for better things in the future, and are looking at moving up to the 2nd division. It'll be interesting to see what happens to them in the future. Now, Líšen are a 3rd division side.

Líšen is on the eastern edge of Brno, and it is easy to reach from the main train station. All you have to do is take tram 8 outside of the station to the last stop. Travel time is around 20 minutes. From there, it is only a five minute walk to the ground.

I was in Rousínov last Tuesday, and they charged the normal entrance fee of 40kc. However, Líšen charged 80kc to see the Sigma game, which is double their normal price. I guess they wanted to take in a little more money from the game to help with the redevelopment of their ground. The away end looked temporary, as we were surrounded by a 3 metre fence. Behind us were buses, and we only had wooden stands. Only 8 Sigma supporters showed up, which isn't too surprising, as the game was mid-week at 17:00. It was strange that there was no presence of any of the Sigma supporter groups.

I have supported Sigma Olomouc for about 10 years now. Whenever I can, I always go to the cup games. I still have nightmares from the 2007/08 Czech Cup game, when Sigma lost on penalties to 4th division Sokol Konice. However, Sigma played a professional game against Líšen, and were clearly the more skilled team.

Olomouc will now travel to 4th division, Protivanov, which is a small village of 1,000 about 20km north of Prostějov.

Friday, September 4, 2009

September 2nd, 2009 - Czech Cup 2nd Round - SK Slavia Hanácká Kroměříž 0 Baník Ostrava

September 2nd, 2009 - Czech Cup 2nd round
SK Slavia Hanácká Kroměříž 0 Baník Ostrava 3
Attendance: 1826 (club record) (350 away supporters)
Admission: 40kc
Game rating: 4.5/10

Kroměříž is known as the 'Athens' of the Haná region. It is town of around 29,000 people located close to Zlín.

Going back a few years, Slavia were in the 2nd division, but they only lasted one or two years. Now they have been back in the 3rd division for a couple of years. They even spent the 2006/07 season in the 4th division, which I understand was a 'voluntary' relegation.

The stadium is about a 20 minute walk from the bus station and train station. It has a capacity of 1,115, but that is only including the seats. The stadium is also one of the few stadiums outside of the Gambrinus Liga to have lights.

Baník Ostrava brought a few hundred supporters, which is impressive considering the game was a 17:00 kickoff on a weekday. Of course, since Baník were in town, it meant that there was a large police presence which follows Baník fans wherever they go. The shops in the train station, always close for 'technical' reasons when it is expected Baník supporters will come through.

The game was quite poor, just like the one in Rousínov the day before. Kroměříž had their best chance to score in the first 10 minutes when Baník were still finding their legs. After that, the hosts had little to no chances on goal, and this made for a rather drab affair.

September 1st, 2009 - Czech Cup 2nd Round - Rousínov 0 Tescoma Zlín 3

September 1st, 2009 - Czech Cup 2nd round
Rousínov 0 Tescoma Zlín 3
Admission: 40kc
Attendance: 500 (away support of 12)
Game rating: 3/10

Rousínov is a small town of 5,000 people roughly located 20kc to the northeast of Brno. They are currently playing in the Divize D, which is one of the five regional fourth divisions. Zlín are spending their first year back in the 2nd division, after a number of years in the top flight.

The stadium is located a few minutes walk north of the town centre, and it is easy enough to find. I suspect it has had better days, as it is now in much need of renovation. However, it does have a lot of 'character'. I would think if Rousínov ever got promoted to the third division, they would have to fix up the stadium.

As it goes with Cup matches, it is either hit or miss. This one was definitely a miss. All of the goals Zlín scored were quite soft, and Rousínov probably felt hard done by them. The biggest difference between the teams, was attacking. Rousínov could compete at the back, but they lacked imagination, and skill up front to penetrate the Zlín back four.

With the win Zlín now moves on to the 3rd round which is scheduled to be played on September 23rd.