FK Lokomotiva DNV v PŠC Pezinok
Športový areál Devínska Nová Ves / 3. Liga – Bratislava / 3rd September 2016
It was almost the third week anniversary of my arrival in Slovakia (that has gone fast!) and now that I was sporadically drinking borovička with my beer, I felt I was practically Slovak. Sunday afternoon would see the English roll into my hometown of Trnava for the World Cup qualifier between the country I had just spent 6 years living in and the country I had just moved to. A lot of the English were arriving into Vienna and Bratislava on the Saturday, 24 hours before Slovakia were to take on the English. As a Brit in Slovakia, I felt I should act as some sort of greeting party for the English in Bratislava. Of course, it was a Saturday, so I was not merely taking on a British ambassadorial role – there was football to be watched too.
England fan and fellow groundhopper Anthony had messaged me a couple of weeks before stating that he had not missed a game of football on a Saturday afternoon for a long time, so I was given the remit of finding a game near Bratislava/Trnava on the Saturday to carry on his run. It was an easy task.
Like back home, the Slovak top flight had the weekend off with it being an international weekend, so my fixture scouring saw me perusing the lower league fixtures. With Anthony arriving into Bratislava, I looked for games over that way with Bratislava having a whole host of clubs within its borders. Soon, I had us a game: FK Lokomotiva DNV v PŠC Pezinok in the Bratislava region of the 3rd division.
To give you an idea of how plentiful football is in Bratislava, the 3rd division in Slovakia is divided into 4 regional divisions: East, Center, West and Bratislava – essentially, the whole Bratislava region has its own league in the 3rd tier. However, I had been at the wonderful ŠK Báhoň on the Thursday, a village about 10 minutes from Trnava, yet they still play in the Bratislava regional league; so the Bratislava boundaries are blurred to say the least. Anyway, despite ŠK Báhoň being one of my favourite places to watch football ever, the actual football on show was dire and so I hoped the Bratislava division could muster up some more entertainment today. By golly did it.
With England flocking into Bratislava, I felt I should put on a white shirt to make them feel welcome, so before heading for Trnava station I threw on my 1992/93 white Wales away shirt. It is a thing of absolute beauty and it was the first time I had worn it since our Euro 2016 run, when I was convinced that it was our lucky charm (to the extent that I didn’t wash it for a month and so the shirt stunk of sweat, beer and tears by the end of the Euros).
€5.10 was paid for my return ticket to Bratislava and I was soon en route to the capital. I love Bratislava. I had spent one day/night there before heading to Vienna two weeks previous and it didn’t take me long to adore the city. I still stick to my argument that its a cooler city than Vienna – a statement that was met with incredulity by some. It’s much smaller and rundown than the Austrian capital, but I just think me and Bratislava’s vibes are more in sync. Plus, it is beautiful too. I did all the tourist stuff when I went two weeks ago, so today I was just heading to the town centre, but below are some photos from two weeks ago of Bratislava looking pretty.
As much as I love Bratislava, the train station is like the Bronx, so I quickly got away from there and headed downhill to the Old Town. Anthony was on his way on a bus from Vienna’s airport, but we had no real plan of where to meet. So I found myself on a brief wander of the Old Town, before realising I was hungry and heading into a place called Bagel and Coffee…for a bagel and coffee unsurprisingly. It was in here that Anthony messaged to say he was someone near the Danube. I looked out the door to see Maximilian’s Fountain and so I thought that was as good a meeting point as any. It was not long before he came striding into the square with his luggage and his mate and fellow England away dayer Paul.
For some reason, the FA had insisted on England fans picking up their tickets in a hotel in Bratislava rather than Trnava, where they were actually playing the next day. Through the cobbled streets of Bratislava we headed, until we eventually found the Crowne Plaza. This part of Bratislava was predictably awash with English fans and it was fair to say that my Wales shirt was getting some funny looks. The funny looks turned a bit nastier on entering the Crowne Plaza hotel and I suddenly felt quite invasive. Gathering tickets was a quick task for Anthony and Paul and we were soon on the march towards Bratislava train station.
Anthony and Paul had arranged to meet some fellow England fans at the Beer Arena (although they never did show). I had visited Beer Arena on my previous Bratislava trip, as it was just around the corner from my hostel that night. It’s not the most authentic of Bratislava drinking holes, but, as the name ‘Arena’ suggests, it is big, spacious and has plenty of beer. A round of Krušovice was ordered (followed by 3 more rounds) and we settled down knowing that the train/tram station to get to the football later that afternoon was just around the corner. A €60 kitty was put together for the day and with everything being so cheap in this part of the world, I speculated whether we’d get through it all. Of course, we blitzed through it easily.
Anthony has travelled all over the place watching England and I could listen to his wacky stories of watching England away in far-flung parts of Eastern Europe all day. Also, he taught me about the self-proclaimed republic of Transnistria, which is technically in Moldova. I’m not sure there’s anywhere I want to go more now – even if it sounds scary as shit. Tales of travel had to be left though as the time crept towards 3pm and with us having a 4.30pm kick-off to make.
As the supposed Slovakia expert, I was put in charge of working out how to get to Devínska Nová Ves where Lokomotiva DNV play. I’d not exactly taken to the task with much ardour and thus we’d didn’t really have a plan on how to get there. I thought I had it covered when I spotted a tram heading there, but it turned out I had confused Devínska Nová Ves with Novo Mesto. Oops. We easily found our way though when we learned that there was a train station right in the heart of Devínska Nová Ves. Train tickets were acquired, cans of Krušovice were purchased and we were soon en route to Devínska Nová Ves.
Devínska Nová Ves is a suburb ten minutes north of Bratislava and virtually just minutes away from the Austrian border. The train we had boarded was actually bound for Vienna and Devínska Nová Ves was the final stop before crossing the border. Thus, for our train journey we were joined by some Slovak police officers, who joined us in jumping off the train in Devínska Nová Ves. Whether they were following us, thinking us to be the thuggish British, we were unsure, but they were harmless enough when we asked them for directions to the football ground. The time by now gone past 4pm and we were a bit put off by their forecast of a 20 minute walk. They were to be very wrong, as a gentle 5 minute stroll did the trick.
From the train, Anthony had claimed to have seen a football ground and we guessed that was our destination. Down a few quiet country paths we headed and past some peaceful residential areas, before we soon found the ground. The area was remarkably quiet and fairly pleasant, not in tune with the only other time I had come across the name Devínska Nová Ves. It was in 2010 that Devínska Nová Ves would make international news when a lone gunman went on an impromptu shooting spree in the area, killing 8 people and injuring 17 more, before having a shootout with the police and then turning the gun on himself. It remains the only time in Slovak history that a mass murderer has gone on a shooting spree and the whole incident remains controversial, as the killer’s motives remain unknown and the authorities apparently released little information on the whole ordeal. Anyway, lets move away from such unpleasantries…
A mere €1 was paid to enter the ground and with that we were given a programme and a ticket stub to go with it. The ground was much to our liking, if a little bit unconventional. Last time I had been at a game with Anthony it was at Hemsworth Miners Welfare in Yorkshire back in July – this was a different world. On entering you are met by a large forecourt and outdoor bar with a small hockey court obstructing the way to the ground (behind the far goal there was also another hockey court). On one side of the ground there is a fairly big, concrete stand with concrete standing areas flanking either side of it. On the other side of the ground, there just runs a pathway in front of the trees, which just about blocks out the train track above the ground.
Far back from the pitch, the large clubhouse can be found with an awesome bar within. The national sport in Slovakia is very much ice hockey and the walls of the bar are draped in hockey shirts and photos with just a smattering of football stuff amongst it all. Also, in the bar, just as Anthony had predicted, we found a gang of England fans; more specifically, Brummies. It seemed our fellow Brits had sought out some other footballing delights before the big England game the next day and that had also brought them to Lokomotiva DNV. What we couldn’t understand though was how it had taken them 2 hours to get here on the bus and just 11 minutes for us on the train. They agreed to join us on the train back to Bratislava instead of using their return bus ticket.
Kick-off was upon us, so we headed outside and headed towards the stand, visiting the outdoor bar en-route. My knowledge of the Slovak lower leagues is very limited at best, as I’m still learning. Every game I’ve been to so far has been a bit of a step into the unknown, but I definitely see this sort of game coming today.
Lokomotiva DNV’s annihilation of their opponents, Pezinok, was undoubtedly the most comprehensive battering of a team I’ve ever seen live. It was a footballing bloodbath. It took a few minutes for Lokomotiva to grab their first goal and by the 7th minute they had a second too. They were swarming around the away team and Pezinok had no answers to Lokomotiva’s rapid attacks.
The 23rd minute saw Lokomotiva go 3-0 up in style. A 20 yard freekick from Samuel Lacko was easily buried into the bottom corner.
The home team were absolutely relentless and just as we crept over the half hour mark, it was a deserved 4-0 to Lokomotiva. It was sheer devastation for Pezinok.
Rather cruelly, Pezinok somehow stole a goal to offer the merest glimmer of hope; however, Lokomotiva put them back in their place by scoring less than a minute after Pezinok’s goal. It was as if the home team were taunting their opponents and there was absolute no sign of them letting off either. Between the 31st and 38th minute, we witnessed 4 goals – Pezinok’s meaningless goal and 3 for Lokomotiva. We went in at half-time with Lokomotiva DNV already 6-1 up.
Half-time: FK Lokomotiva DNV 6 – 1 PŠC Pezinok.
During half-time, me, Anthony and Paul went and sat at the small outdoor bar and after much frustration at my two previous Slovak lower league games, I finally had me some klobasa. At the previous two games I attended, the only food offerings were chicken steak burgers. Now, I’m fine with chicken burgers, but it’s not exactly the exoticism I imagined I was going to experience regularly out here in Slovakia. As far as I was aware, Central European football favours the klobasa as the food of choice. And here it was in the suburbs of Bratislava. It was glorious too, even though I was initially sceptical about eating the huge gherkin that accompanied my sausage. It all went though.
For a change of scenery, I headed around to the opposite of the ground and it was here I got chatting to regulars at Lokomotiva DNV, Matus and Bystrik. The lads informed me that DNV are very much a team on the up and that they expected them to get promoted this season and then maybe even climb higher. Where did their optimism come from? Well, the biggest employers in the area are Volkswagen and they had pumped a load of money into the club. It was only then that I noticed that the advertising boards around the pitch were plastered with the famous ‘VW’ badge, as were the DNV’s coaching staff’s attire.
Volkswagen’s money was definitely looking good on the pitch too, as the dismantling of Pezinok continued. 3 minutes into the second half and it was 7-1.
Lokomotiva DNV left their battered opponents alone for 15 minutes, before the destruction restarted. A close range finish put them 8-1 and thoughts began turning to the inevitable.
“Desať! Desať! Desať!” I cried from the stand. I was still very much learning the basics of Slovak, but I knew the numbers. I wanted ten goals now. One player found my shouts of “Desať” amusing, but I began to fear that the home team were getting tired of the relentless attacking by now and may not hit the double figures they definitely deserved.
I decided to climb up the banking behind the goal (and the hockey court) to take some photos when goal 9 went in. The clock was ticking agonisingly close to 90 when I felt actual relief that the home team made it to double figures. Lokomotiva DNV even treated us to one more goal for luck as they added an 11th. Amusingly, the score on the scoreboard still read as ‘9-1’ as the electronic board didn’t have the option of double figures. We spoke to one club official, who, if we understood his Slovak/broken English correctly, claimed that this was the club’s biggest ever league win.
Full-time: Lokomotiva DNV 11 – 1 PŠC Pezinok.
As I said earlier – a footballing bloodbath.
The team were clapped off, I was heretical Welshman by posing for a photo with an England flag and then it was off to the bar. We enjoyed one more beer outside before our train 30 minutes later. Admittedly, I was happy to leave when we did, after we got chatting to some more locals. On announcing my newly formed roots in Trnava, one particularly brutish and thuggish-looking lad made it very clear to me how much he despised anything to do with Trnava. “Slovan. Me, Slovan,” he kept saying with a rather nasty face. For those unaware, Slovan Bratislava and Spartak Trnava hate each other’s guts. We left at about right time I felt.
Anthony had asked me to find him a game and I think I’d chosen bloody well here. For our €1 we had seen 12 goals, which a calculator has just informed me is 8.33333 cent per goal (7p a goal in British money for those too lazy to work out a conversion). Plus, the ground offered us some lovely klobasa and lovely concrete too. It had been nice to have the company of the English too – although 24 hours later I’d be feeling a lot less warm towards them.
Highlights: visiting Bratislava again, good, old-school ground, good bar, klobasa, 12 goals for 1 Euro.
Low Points: not much near the ground, being threatened (I think) by a Slovan thug.
See all my photos of our day at Lokomotiva DNV here.