MSK Břeclav v FC Slovan Rosice
Stadion na Lesní ulici / 4. Liga – Division D / 21st April 2017
Groundhoppers love a quirky stand – traditional or modern, battered or gleaming. “Have you seen the stand at (insert club with weird stand)?” is a question regularly reeled out by hoppers or declarations like “We have to go there to see that stand,” are commonly heard. Generally, with many new stadiums in the UK being flat-pack identi-stadiums, the place to find your stand porn would come lower down the leagues and in non-league. Back in the UK I regularly heard love lavished on (by myself at times) places like Stafford Rangers, Great Yarmouth, Hitchin and even in my own (sort of) home village of Treharris back in my homeland in the South Wales Valleys.
Aside from some of the German and Austrian hoppers I’ve sometimes come across in Slovakia, I rarely get a chance to talk Slovak grounds and their quirks with other like-minded people and thus it can be hard to learn of those more unusual grounds and their stands. I’m quite a big fan of the old grandstands found in the lower depths of the Slovak football pyramid, but they can get a bit samey after a while. In regards of stands, the real unconventional joys I’ve discovered thus far have been the beautiful, shed-like stand at Sereď and the grass banking stand at Báhoň (a stand of sorts in my eyes). If I wanted idiosyncrasy from a stand though, I knew where to get it as I’d been saving it aside for a while. It would involve creeping over the border into the very south of the Czech Republic and heading to Breclav to watch 4th tier Czech football. I think the photos will speak for themselves as to why this is such a beauty. Here’s a sneak peak of this beaut of a stand – more pics to follow later, don’t worry.
To get to Břeclav on the train, I was first required to head west from Trnava to the Slovak Bratislava. It was here in the Slovak capital that I met up with ‘Slovakophile’ Ju, who was making what seemed to be his dozenth trip from Chesterfield to adopted my home nation. Soon we were aboard the 11.10am train which would take us 50 minutes north to Břeclav. In the train bar, we enjoyed a couple of Staropramens (the premium stuff, not the shitty regular one) and the train journey was a lot quieter than my last journey on this route, a journey which deserves a mention.
Břeclav is one of the main train hubs of the south of the Czech Republic and the train we were now aboard would take us all the way to Warsaw if we so wished. Just 4 days earlier, I had found myself in Břeclav, as I headed home to Slovakia from Poland and had to change trains there for the final leg. I’m still not sure how, but I ended up chatting to a 20 strong family of Slovaks. It turned out that they were on their way back from Poland too, more specifically, Gdańsk. Just like me, they had been watching Polish football too, although their trip perhaps had more of a point to it. It turned out the one lad of their party, the one who was insisting on buying me beer, was the dad of 20-year-old Slovak midfielder Lukáš Haraslín, once a youngster at Parma and now a regular for Lechia Gdańsk. His family were a hell of a lot of drunken fun on the train back to Bratislava and refused to let me pay for beers. Fair to say, thanks to the generosity and general epicness of the Haraslín family, Lukáš Haraslín is now my current favourite Slovak player and gives me a good excuse to head to Gdańsk next season. Like I said, no family parties on the Břeclav-Bratislava line today though and all was calm.
Back to this Saturday and we arrived into Břeclav at midday with plenty of time to look around before the 4pm kick-off. Not that there was much to see really. Břeclav is mostly an industrial town and its growth only really kicked off in the 19th century thanks to the rail route between Brno and Vienna and then that line’s further expansion.
My Czech football/beer expert Ralph had told me of two breweries in Břeclav and so we thought we’d head to them and see if anything else caught our eye on the way. Certainly the first thing that could not be missed we found at the end of the small park near the station: a the massive, stone head of a scary, bald man screaming. It seemed that this was either done by someone called David Talavera or was a depiction of him (my research was remarkably unthorough). Anyway,I felt his screaming mouth was a cry out for a flat cap, so I duly provided him with one to wear; just for a short while though, this was one of my more expensive caps and no stone head was keeping it.
We wandered a bit closer to the centre and towards where we believed Frankies Brewery was located. However, on checking the location on Google, I noticed that it was closed for the weekend and so we looked for somewhere else to go. Having taken photos of the rather unusual church – which reminded me of something from Mordor in Lord of the Rings – we did the true British traveller thing to do: we headed for the Irish Pub.
I was always say that Irish Pubs in this part of the world are never really very Irish at all. I always imagine that the town have a town meeting and ask, “Right, who wants to be the town’s Irish Pub?” Once one establishment has agreed to the role, they take the “IRISH PUB” sign and then run things exactly the same as their bar was pre-Irish Pub. What I will say for the Irish Pub in Břeclav is that it at least made the tiniest bit of effort to be a little bit Irish. Yes, there was still no Guinness, there was still no Irish staff and it looked exactly like any other Slovak bar, but they did give us the house special: green beer! The beer was flipping green! I’ve heard of this madness before, yet I had not had the pleasure to sample such a thing. Ju had got speaking to two locals and their French friend and they pointed out that what we were drinking was ‘for tourists’. Of course, we knew that and I was only drinking this green beer for the novelty factor – it actually tasted a bit shit to be honest.
Our new local friend queried did we like real beer (of course we do) and soon began delivering directions to somewhere called ‘Ve Dvore’ – a place of good beer he assured us. We were never going to remember the directions, so soon our friend was drawing us a map on a napkin – or as I came to know it, the ‘mapkin’.
With green beer inside us and doing who knows what to our innards, we headed in search of Ve Dvore with the mapkin in hand. It all seemed simply enough until the bar didn’t appear to be where we thought the mapkin led us. It seemed that our friend in the bar was not cut out for cartography, as he had missed out a few streets to help guide our route. We started thinking about abandoning the search for this bar, until we began approaching strangers in the street for directions instead. It must have been a daunting sight for the locals we approached, seeing two lads walking at you quickly wielding a mapkin (which I bet to them looked like any old napkin) shouting simultaneously “do you speak English?!” It must have been scary as some seemed to point us in any random direction just to get rid of us I think. Eventually, a lovely old couple walking their dog through the residential streets decoded the mapkin and got us near-ish our destination. I completed our search on Google as it became clear that the bar was not called ‘Ve Dvore’ but simply just ‘Dvůr’. Google Maps got us the rest of the way, as we found ourselves back near the stonehead and, more importantly, outside the pub.
Dvůr had been worth looking for. I should have known it’d be good really, as ‘Dvůr’ is the Czech word for ‘Courtyard’ – the name of one of my favourite bars in my old adopted home of Manchester. Inside we found a sort of alley of tables and chairs that led up to a small, snug bar area, with a large courtyard area (surprise, surprise) outside. It was a bit chilly for outside bevvying today, so we sat at the bar instead. There were two ales on tap and both fitted me and Ju perfectly: Ju enjoyed a particularly nice, milky stout (according to him anyway) and I loved the Frankie’s APPA – brewed in the closed brewery we had planned on visiting earlier.
We did plan on visiting the bigger brewery in town, the Zámecký pivovar Břeclav, but the Dvůr barmaid seemed to think it was closed today. We both looked online for info, but when it proved arduous to find any info regarding opening times, we realised we were quite happy staying here in Dvůr until setting off for the ground. We chatted away with some early afternoon revellers, including a girl who had lived in Bristol for a while and a lad who was raised in Chicago, and the barmaid was pleasant to us too (although I think we may have done her head in a bit as we drank more ale).
It was now past 3pm and so we left behind the pale ale and stout and began the walk up to MSK Břeclav. Finding the ground would be more confusing than it should have been in a relatively small town, thanks to the fact that there were a couple of grounds/pitches here. If I understood correctly, we were to avoid going to Stadion MSK Břeclav and instead head to MSK Břeclav’s actual home of Stadion na Lesní ulici, about 5-10 minutes down the road from the aforementioned ground. We asked some locals en route to clarify our route, but even they seemed confused as to which ground to head to, as some directed us one way and others another. I was sticking to my plan though, which worked out in the end as we emerged onto the main road where they had a traffic sign out on the road and pointing down a narrow road; the sign read in lights: “MSK Břeclav v TJ Slovan Rosice”.
Down the narrow roadway we found the entrance to MSK Břeclav and the trees surrounding the one side of the ground. In fact, haven’t paid another measly entry fee, we arrived into the ground to find the one corner of the ground to be like a mini forest. But then, through the trees, there it was: THAT stand. There it was with its sexy, narrow, two-tiered structure, almost looking like it was snaking and scaling up the large building behind it. I wanted to stand back and take in and admire its beauty, but I scarpered instead. As soon as we had arrived at the ground, it had begun absolutely hammering it down and instead of taking photos we ran for the stands shelter instead. I’ve clearly been away from Manchester too long, as I’m not use to rain these days!
Even from within the stand, it’s brilliance quickly revealed itself. This wasn’t just a double-decker stand, it also housed a level underneath where the club bar resided and a little walkway leading out onto the pitch. Ju decided to creep onto the pitch to take some photos, as I walked into the bar. The barman soon pushed me out the door, as it seemed the snug, little room held inside was only for VIP; if we wanted beers, he’d come to the door to serve us – which he did. With beers bought, we headed up into the stand proper.
I figured my Lost Boyos infamy hadn’t reached Břeclav yet, so I thought it was pointless trying to access the very exclusive-looking, blue-carpeted lower tier, where the ‘VIPs’ were beind housed. Instead we climbed to the top level of the stand to join the Břeclav commoners. We were sheltered from the still pelting rain and we had a superb view of down below. What a stand! Almost certainly my favourite of the season and probably one of my favourites I’ve ever been to.
As the game kicked off, we were joined by my Greek pal Thanos and his girlfriend with Thanos also keen to see Břeclav’s stand in all of its wondrous glory. I think we were all in agreement that stand was truly something special, yet my eyes were turned elsewhere too: that Břeclav kit. What a beauty. It reminded me of that funky Norwich home shirt from the early 90s (some will wrongly think that shirt an atrocity) except replace the green on that for blue. The sheer exuberance of it all contrasted drastically with the dour, plain dark Umbro shirts of Rosice, who looked like a team of referees on a training day. I believe Rosice usually wear yellow too, hence the switch to a bland away shirt for this afternoon’s game (can’t imagine there’s too much money in 4th tier Czech football to splash out on a fancy home shirt and a fancy away shirt.
I was loving the Břeclav shirt and I was madly in love with the stand, but there was also another component bringing joy to proceedings. On either side of the more conventional stand opposite us – and seemingly far below – were two small bands of Ultras doing their best to create some atmosphere. Both sets looked to be having good fun, with Rosice bringing flags, drums and a banner dubbing themselves the ‘Beerhunters’.
The football wasn’t very good, so me and Ju decided to head over to the other side of the ground to take some photos and to maybe say hello to the fans. Ju is never one to be shy and so he threw himself towards the home Ultras (not literally). Some spoke English and as per usual I was soon queried on what the hell we were doing there watching 4th tier Czech football. Usually when watching shit Central European football, I shrug my shoulders and even question myself, but today I had an easy response: I just pointed to the stand. This response still seemed to baffle them, although they were now shaking our hands and welcoming us to Břeclav. Photos were posed for with the fan club flag and then it was back to watching the game.
Match update: there was not a lot happening,but Rosice took the lead in the 39th minute. A ball across the box from the right was easily finished by the away team, much to the delight of those to our left.
I went to ask Ju did he fancy getting another beer before half-time only to see that he was gone. He hadn’t gone far though, as I noticed he felt that having introduced himself to the home fans, he should now introduce himself to the Rosice gang. I ran after him sceptical of this move, but I’m glad he did, as Lost Boyos and Rosice quickly formed a bond.
The Rosice fans were great. Ju had made the brief introductions and it seemed the majority of them could speak decent English. On learning that I lived in Slovakia I was asked, “Are you Blansko Klobása?” referring to the British collective who follow the thrills and spills of Czech 3rd tier team FK Blansko. I explained I’m like a sort of reserve member known to them as ‘Slovak Matt’. I verified my own connection to Blansko Klobása by showing them my photo with Ralph and Craggy in front of the Blansko flag when I joined them in Kunovice earlier in the season. Familiarity swept across their faces and they all laughed and shared some exchange in Czech. I later learned that the Rosice fanshad enjoyed a fun day with the Blansko lot, when they played each other last season.
Half-time: MSK Břeclav 0 – 1 Slovan Rosice.
Half-time meant klobása time! And klobása that had been recommended by the Blansko Klobása’s very own Ralph. As we headed back around to the underbelly of the double decker stand to fill up our bellies, Ju, who had walked ahead, had tried to make more friends. He had asked two women walking past us whether they spoke English. Initially, confusion reigned, before a lightbulb seemed to trigger in their minds. Their answer to “Do you speak English?” was to pull out a hip flask and offer us its contents. I think it was vodka – it packed one hell of a punch whatever it was. Food and beer was need to combat the taste.
The klobása was exquisite (although maybe a little bit on the small side after the couple of mammoths I had in Opava and Chorzów last weekend). It did the job though; it wasn’t even enough for Ju, as he made his way through 3 klobásas throughout the second half.
We completed another lap of the ground and ended up back with the Rosice gang. I gave them a few of my #NoFlatCapNoParty stickers and soon they were bursting into a flag waving, drum-beating rendition of “No flat cap, no party!” to the tune of Seven Nation Army. It’s my preferred way to be serenaded to be honest.
The game was still a bit dull and we made our entertainment with the Rosice fans who were very difficult not to love. No doubt that the rain was spoiling the football on offer, as nothing of real note happened. That was until the very last kick of the game…
Ju had headed back to the stand and so I said my goodbyes to the Rosice lot and began heading back to say my farewells to that beautiful stand. I heard commotion behind me and I turned around to see Břeclav pull a ball into the box from the left, which resulted in a close range shot heading in. 1-1 and the ref then blew his whistle.
Full-time: MSK Břeclav 1 – 1 Slovan Rosice.
As the 110 spectators began to pile out of the gates, me and Ju made it onto the pitch to get our final photos of THAT stand. I have no doubt it’ll eventually build up a true cult following in groundhopping circles in this part of the world and become an iconic ‘tick’. Spread the word and get to Břeclav.
We arrived back at the station with plenty of time to make the 18:59 back over the border and then down to Bratislava. We had even more time when it turned out the train was delayed by 25 minutes/ To the bar!
If I were to rank Czech/Slovak train station bars, Břeclav’s offering would rank highly. The bar was big and modern and the barman friendly – as per usual though, the folk within were a bit odd (they probably thought we were odd too to be fair). Firstly,we spoke to a Czech Arsenal fan, whose views were bizarre at times; I’m sure he said he doesn’t like Tomas Rosicky – no Czech dislikes Tomas Rosicky. This conversation was then interrupted by a loud, gay lad next to me (his sexuality wasn’t an assumption by me, it was literally the second thing he told me after his name).
In a running theme of the day, he wanted to know what exactly me and Ju were doing in Břeclav. I explained the whole ‘we wanted to see a football stand’ thing and he looked at us with almost disdain. However, the tables were turned when he began telling us that he’d travelled a few hours from northern Czech Republic to see some rare cloud formation. “You look at football grounds, I look at clouds,” he declared and I suppose he was right. We’re all weirdos really, aren’t we?
And on that philosophical note, we departed Břeclav and headed back south to lovely Slovakia. I concurred that we’re probably all a bit weird to each other with our individual quirks and weird tastes, but that’s surely a good thing. If anything, in the most ludicrous and cheesy thing I may ever write on here, the stand at Břeclav was a metaphor for such an idea. That stand is weird, quirky and certainly individualistic, yet ultimately brilliant. Definitely one of my favourite grounds of the season.
Highlights: big, flatcap wearing stone head, Dvůr bar, friendly locals, what a ground, what a stand (definitely stand of the season), both fans great – especially the ‘Beerhunters’, Břeclav’s shirt, excellent klobása.
Low Points: not prettiest town, poor game (seems after being away from the UK, I struggle with rain these days).
See all my photos from Břeclav here.