Thursday, September 30, 2010

November 15th, 2006 - FIFA international - Hungary 1 Canada 0

November 15th, 2006
FIFA Friendly at Szekesfehervar (Stadion Sostoi)
Hungary 1 Canada 0
Attendance: 10,000
Admission: no idea

Back in 2006, I made my way to Szekesfehervar, which is a city of around 100,000 located 1 hour by train from Budapest. I remember it being a brutal city name to pronounce and I am sure that I butchered it while trying to buy a train ticket.

I arrived in the city on the morning of the game. I spent the morning walking around and sitting in pubs. The stadium is located about a 15-20 minute walk back to the train station, and I didn't have too many problems finding it. On the way I ran into the parents of a Canadian player who was going to play in his very first full international. They were shocked to see another Canadian at the game. Actually, it turned out about 15 Canadian's were at the game, scattered around the stadium. I arrived very early, and didn't see any other Canadian's so I put up my flag near the centre of the pitch. People were taking pictures of me, but I didn't feel any reason to be afraid. Eventually, I saw another Canadian flag in the crowd, and made my way over to join them. We were seated right beside the supporters section, and the feeling from them was a little hostile. This was the first time I felt this at any Canadian away game (expect Costa Rica vs Canada WCQ in San Jose 2003).

I don't remember too much of the game, except for a muddy pitch and foggy conditions. After the match, I made my way back to Budapest on the last train back.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

June 2nd, 2007 - Canadian Soccer League - Windsor Border Stars 0 Toronto Croatia 2

June 2nd, 2007
Canadian Soccer League
Windsor Border Stars 0 Toronto Croatia 2
Attendance: 300
Admission: $10

I am finding myself a little busier on the weekends, so apart from Hana Prostejov games, I am not able to get to as many games as before. I hope to go to a few new grounds every month, but in the meantime, I will upload some games from three and four years ago.

The first from my archive is the game from 3 years ago between the Windsor Border Stars and Toronto Croatia. At the time, I was spending a few months in Windsor, so I decided to go to a local CSL game. The Canadian Soccer League isn't the best name, as the league is essentially based in Southern Ontario, and one club from Quebec. The Border Stars were in the league from 2004 to 2008, but they found the travel difficult, and the fees of the league. It was uncommon for Windsor to show up on a Friday night in Toronto (four hour drive) with only one sub. As the league was/is semi-pro at best, many of the players had second jobs.

I don't remember much from the actual game, but I do remember that I was excited to go to a game in Windsor because the stadium kind of had a feel of a proper soccer stadium. One side had concrete seats, while the other was more typical of American football.

It is too bad that Windsor doesn't have a team in the CSL at the moment, but I heard the league has interest in putting another team in the city.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 14th, 2010 - Czech Republic U16 2 Slovakia U16 1

September 14th, 2010
Czech Republic U16 2 Slovakia U16 1 (at Staré Město u Uherské Hradiště)
Attendance: 130
Admission: Free
Beer: ?

I have very fond memories of the ground at Staré Město u Uherské Hradiště. I went there three times in 2002, twice to see 1. FC Synto play in the Inter-Toto Cup, and once to see Sigma Olomouc play. The Inter-Toto Cup games were against Konstruktorul (Moldova) and then Helsingborgs (Sweden). The town has a population of 6,853. It is hard to believe that the town and the stadium once hosted 1st division matches with 1. FC Synot. The stadium was in poor shape then, and it looks even rougher now.

1. FC Synot merged with Slavia Uherské Hradiště in 2000, but in 2004/05 the team went back to Uherské Hradiště (a few kilometers away) and 1. FC Slovacko was created. This had much to do with the biggest betting scandal in Czech football history which happened around 2003/04. Three club officials were charged and seven referees.

Since I went to the stadium in 2002, I had no problems remembering how to get there. You can take a train to the Staré Město u Uherské Hradiště stop, and from there it is a 15-20 minute walk. However, the stadium is only used for the 1. FC Slovacko U19 and U17 squads. The first team will also train there throughout the year.

The game kicked off on a weekday at 4pm, so needless to say the crowd was small. Most of them were in the main seated section, with a few other people scattered around the other areas. The seating behind the goal has certainly seen better days, and they probably haven't been replaced or fixed since 1. FC Synot left. Across the pitch from the main stand, the 'seats' are rusted.

There were a few scouts from an English Premier League club at the game, but I never did find out what club. I thought the majority of the match was quite even, but the Czechs showed a bit more creativity up front in the 2nd half and they always looked like the more dangerous side. It will be interesting to see how these players develop over the next few years, and I am sure some of them will find spots of foreign clubs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 12th, 2010 - Jihomoravský Kraj - 1 B Třída Skupina A - Ivanovice na Hané 1 Tišnov 0

September 12th, 2010
Jihomoravský Kraj - 1 B Třída Skupina A (7th division)
Ivanovice na Hané 1 Tišnov 0
Admission: 25kc
Attendance: 215
Beer: 20kc

This past weekend, I made the short trip to Ivanovice na Hané which is a small village of a few thousand people located about a 25 minute train trip south of Prostějov. I have been meaning to get to a game here for a few years, but never got around to it.

The football team played last year in the 6th division, but were relegated. I would say the stadium is about a 20 minute walk south of the train station, if you are walking slow. I had to walk quite fast, as I got to the pitch right as the game was kicking off. The first thing I noticed was the pitch. It has to be the best pitch I have seen at this level over the past 3 years. As for the seating, there was one row of seats on concrete steps running down one side of the pitch. One part was covered. There was also a small covered outdoor pub, which offered bbq fish, steak, and sausages.

Ivanovice na Hané going into the game hadn't lost in 5 games, while the visitors had only lost once. This was one of the reasons why I picked the game. Unfortunately, most of the game was a disappointment, with both had few chances on goal. Much of the play was physical and located in the middle of the pitch. There were two red cards, one to each team, which livened up the game. The last 10 minutes, with Ivanovice na Hané leading, were quite hectic, with the visitors desperately trying to score the tying goal. All in all, it wasn't a bad game.

Monday, September 6, 2010

2012 Euro Qualifier - September 3rd, 2010 - Slovakia 1 Macedonia 0

2012 Euro Qualifier - September 3rd, 2010
Slovakia 1 Macedonia 0
Attendance: 5500 (250 away supporters)
Admission: 7.5 euros (away section)

I made the rather short trip to Bratislava by train via Brno on Friday for the Euro qualifier. I have been to the city before, but never for a football match. The city centre is beautiful and quite compact.

The game was played at Pasiensky Stadium, which is the current home of Slovan Bratislava, and once home of Inter Bratislava. Tehelne Stadion was the national stadium, however, it is waiting demolition. After talking to a few Slovaks, they felt like the new stadium will never be built. Pasiensky is basically just a big bowl with a few seats on one side covered. Everything else is left to the mercy of the weather. It is a little far to walk from the city centre, but can easily be reached by tram.

As this was the first game for both teams in qualifiers, I was expecting a tight game. Macedonia is a tough team for anyone to play. The first half was rather boring with almost nothing happening. The visitors packed the box, and the hosts couldn't break them down. In the second half, there were two bizarre red cards given to the Macedonians. The first one was a second yellow card, after an injured player crossed back on to the pitch by the corner flag. This was soon followed by their coach getting a red card after he ran on to the pitch to break up the players on both teams pushing each other. Strangely enough, the Slovak keeper pushed a Macedonian player down. It was an act which deserved a red card, but in the end he got nothing. Predictably, the Slovaks scored in injury time to take the three points. Macedonia just couldn't get their heads back into the game.