Lost in…Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou

ŠK Rapid Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou v ŠK Blava 1928 B 

ŠK Rapid Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou / VII. Liga Trnava / 27th August 2017

I still can’t believe that it was 16 months ago that I made my first ever visit to Slovakia. Fair to say that that time has absolutely flown by. That first visit was a reconnaissance visit organised by my then potential future (and now current) employers, just to check that having been offered the job I could see myself living in Slovakia. It probably took me just a few hours of spending time in Trnava for me to realise that I would definitely love living there; and I very much still do love living here. When first talking to my employers, I was open about my love for football and travel too and so I arranged two football trips that first weekend: Spartak Trnava on the Saturday and AS Trenčín on the Sunday. They were the first two Slovak football grounds I saw and visited. But I saw a third one that weekend and I had planned to visit it on my return to Trnava to start my new job. Not that I had any idea who this club were.

As my future boss drove me out of Trnava, as we made our way to Bratislava airport, we went through the village of Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou – a village right on the cusp of Trnava. Immediately I was struck with the football ground that sat at the village entrance and, having not seen what a lower league Slovak ground looked like back then, I thought it looked cool. I soon learned who the club were and throw in the fact that they use the prefix ‘Rapid’ – which is always cool – I decided I’d make an effort to visit them. It’d be easy – the village was only a 5km from the centre of Trnava and I could easily walk it. However, somehow, after a year of living in Trnava, I was yet to visit it.

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Another attempt at making it to ‘Rapid’.

For those regular readers with good memories, you may remember that I did come close to visiting Hrnčiarovce once. Having watched AŚK Slávia Trnava in the morning, I decided I was going to make it a Trnava league double header and head up to Rapid Hrnčiarovce’s 5pm kick-off too. That plan was all running smooth, until just before I was about to leave Bokovka and begin the walk south-west of Trnava, a massive storm struck and relentlessly battered away at the area. No way was I walking in that and I figured it may not be a great day to stand outside watching football either. Mission abandoned.

So this was my second attempt at visiting Rapid Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou. I’d like to say it was a more successful venture, but it definitely wasn’t. Fun was had though and I felt that because of what happened it may be worth a blog.

Just like last time I attempted to visit, my first port of call was one of my regular Trnava drinking holes, Bokovka – a nice bar housed on the corner of the glitzy City Arena. It was a Sunday afternoon in Trnava with temperatures soaring above the 30 mark, but I was one of very few sitting inside Bokovka, as I wanted to watch the first half of Chelsea v Everton (mainly to cry over Gylfi Sigurdsson wearing an Everton shirt and not a Swansea shirt anymore). I got to watch the first half, before deciding to begin the 5km walk south-west towards Hrnčiarovce.

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The road to Bratislava (I wasn’t walking that far thankfully).

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Leaving the main centre of Trnava.

The first part of the walk was largely the same walk I make to work every weekday morning, until I had to turn off towards the tower block heavy edge of the town. I’m sure people have seen enough of my photos of Trnava and it really is a beautiful place, but head out of the town centre and it is certainly a bit rough around the edges. I found myself walking alongside the main road and past various garages and industrial estates. The walk flew by though as I had the Athletico Mince podcast to entertain (Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson’s comedy podcast which is just stupidly random and wacky and only sparingly mentions football – it is hilarious though).

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Being Slovakia, of course the first thing I came across when entering the village was an abandoned, graffiti-covered building.

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A more pleasant suburban scene.

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Love Zmrzlina me.

Conveniently, Hrnčiarovce’s football ground is at the entrance to the village and so I didn’t have to venture too far into the place. On that trip to the airport 16 months previous I remember stopping for ice cream in a little shop not far from the ground and with the sun beating down today, I made a return visit to said ice cream parlour. Plus, after all this time my favourite Slovak word still remains to be the word for ice cream: ‘Zmrzlina’.

With ice cream in hand, I headed back across the road to the ground and found another incongruous bar: just like my visit to Bernolákovo a couple of week’s previous, I found myself in a Western-themed bar – this one acting as the football club’s bar. Admittedly, Hrnčiarovce’s Western effort was slightly less cowboy-heavy. The bar was a largely wooden affair inside with ornamental acoustic guitars dangling from the ceiling. Equally out of touch with the Western theme was the barmaid, a middle-aged lady who was certainly unlike the passive damsel in distress of Western films. In fact, she was quite frightening and seemed angry at every drink order. I jumped a mile when she passed me my beer by smashing it down hard on the counter.

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Another Wild West bar…

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The entrance to the ground.

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The bar was full of ornamental guitars.

The sun was still out and so I decided to waltz out of the bar area and straight into the ground, as Shakira’s football anthem Waka Waka blared out of the PA system. Hrnčiarovce’s ground certainly has some character. The main stand is an old, battered thing, but that is nothing compared to the stand-alone seating area to the right of it; it reminded me of a mini version of the old scaffolded away end at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium. There are various picnic benches to enjoy a pitchside beer and even a park and trampoline to keep the kids distracted. There was a satisfying moment in the game when one player landed a stray ball into the small fenced off trampoline – it was childless at the time to clarify, so no kids were hurt in the undertaking of this 7th tier game. The other side of the ground has a small open banking with a stream of cars soaring down the main road behind it.

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Plenty of tables to enjoy your pitchside beer at.

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The main stand.

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And the Scaffold Stand.

By the time I had finished my first beer, the teams were coming out onto the pitch. I had headed to the pitchside fence to the right of the stand and there was an awkward moment when one of the players was waving to his mates directly behind me. Or so I thought. It turned out he was actually waving at me! I had no idea who this guy was either. The fella jogged over to his team-mate, said something to him, pointed at me and they both came over to me. It was quite unnerving at first. It turned out that player who had waved at me is a big fan of Lost Boyos and uses Google translate to read the blogs. Greta commitment! He had brought his team mate over to help with his English and to translate. This was definitely the first time a foreign footballer has recognised me and so we agreed to have a beer after the game in the club bar.

The game began and the opening exchanges were dull. The only real chance fell to my Lost Boyos fan who missed his 1v1 with the keeper, much to his frustration as he shouted out in rage.

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Match action.

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Match action.

I completed a lap of the ground and watched the first part of the half up on the wooden benches on the open banking. With little action though, I headed back for another beer (particularly pleasing was that beer was being served in dimple glasses – and I love a good dimple glass). Of course, as soon as I entered the bar, I heard cheers from the pitch that indicated that there had been a goal. I peeked out the door to see that the away team had taken the lead. The barmaid once again slammed my beer down on the bar and back out I headed, hoping to miss no other goals.

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The wooden bench end.

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I found the smallness of the club name on the stand annoying for some reason.

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Match action.

It had been a beautiful day in Trnava, but, rather suddenly, things were beginning to look ominous. The clear blue skies rapidly turned grey and the trees backdropping began blowing frantically in a very powerful wind. Halfway through the half the first bursts of lightning could be seen over Trnava nearby and soon the rumbles of thunder became louder and louder and as the grey clouds got closer and closer. There was a storm brewing and it looked like it was going to be a brutal one.

The storm was still away from the village for now, although the weather did lend the home team a hand. It wasn’t too long after the first goal that Hrnčiarovce equalised, although I was confused to how they scored. A freekick seemed to be going nowhere, but it then seemed that it had caught onto a gust of wind and floated into the net past the keeper.

In the 38th minute, Blava earned themselves a penalty and comfortably scored it without the keeper even moving, but now the rain was coming down and the lightning forks were now hitting the field just behind the ground. I thought we’d almost certainly have a delay at half-time or may even have the players taken off the pitch by the end of the half.

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Match action.

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Got to love a dimple glass.

We did make it to the end of the half and the final action proved to be dramatic. As Blava thought they’d scored to go 3-1 up, the linesman ruled out the goal. As they protested away, the home team broke forward. The ball eventually came to the captain Tomáš Sedlický, who was the best player on the pitch for me, who cut in and smashed the ball in from just inside the box to make it 2-2. The ref’s whistle blew immediately after the goal.

Half-time: ŠK Rapid Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou 2 – 2 ŠK Blava 1928 B.

The players exited the pitch as the first bangs of the storm sounded overhead and the first pangs of heavy rain came throwing down. As the players headed for the dressing rooms, the rest of the spectators all crammed into the bar for half-time beers and to escape the inhospitable weather.

The game in Hrnčiarovce  had kicked off at 5pm, so it was in sync with the 4pm kick-off back home between Liverpool and Arsenal. The clubhouse was showing the game from Anfield on the TV and so as we went 10 minutes into the second half there, I began to speculate what was happening with our game here in Slovakia. Thunder and lightning was still flashing and banging overhead, so it wasn’t too hard to work out what was happening. However, about 15 minutes after the second half was due to kick-off, the storm was persisting and passing over. I had no doubt we’d have a second half here in Hrnčiarovce, even if it was a much delayed second half restart. I was silly to think that. I knew the game was done for the day as a slow flow of players with kitbags began to enter the clubhouse. 35 minutes after the ref had blown for half-time it became very clear that the game was off. Bugger.

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Back in the bar for Liverpool v Arsenal.

I figured I may as well stay put in the bar now and watch the second half of Liverpool battering Arsenal. Plus, I had promised those two players I’d join them for a drink in the bar.

As soon as the Lost Boyos fanboy entered the bar, he headed for the bar and uttered the one word question I’m more than used to by now: “Borovička?” It’s rude to refuse a borovička off a Slovak, so of course I obliged. This turned out to be the club’s striker Ivan Jedinák and so I went over to join him and his team-mate who had translated for us earlier, Peter Vozár. It seemed that Peter was unaware of Lost Boyos, but expressed a keen interest in my travels as it turned out he works for the local Trnava newspaper! Both were great lads and I enjoyed my brief time chatting to them. Ivan demonstrated his Lost Boyos knowledge by recalling that last time I had almost come to Hrnčiarovce I was put off by a storm. I was told maybe I should stay away from Hrnčiarovce. I did like the idea of giving myself a Game of Thrones-style nickname though: ‘Bringer of Storms’, Matt Harrison.

The lads also gave me the lowdown on the ref’s decision to abandon the game too. Apparently he had said he’d give it 15 minutes at half-time to decide on whether to play the second half or not, but he had scrapped that plan and after about 5 minutes he decided he was just going to call of the game anyway. I’ll say that he wasn’t the most athletic ref I’ve seen and was a bit short of breath by the end of the half – I had my suspicions he may have just wanted the rest of his Sunday off.

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With ŠK Rapid Hrnčiarovce striker Ivan – Lost Boyos biggest Slovak fan.

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And with Peter, a journo for the local press and defender for ŠK Rapid Hrnčiarovce.

Soon we were joined by the goalscorer and skipper Tomáš, who very kindly offered me a lift home to avoid the adverse weather. The only stipulation was that I had to be quick to take the lift; with 3/4 of a pint and another borovička left in front of me, I had to pretty much down them both. We were soon heading back towards the heart of Trnava.

The lift home and the friendliness of the lads was very much appreciated and I promised I’d go back and see them play a full match soon hopefully. Rapid Hrnčiarovce is a great little club and it’s impossible to dislike a club when you get a welcome like I received. I’m sure the groundhopper fraternity would have a fit if I counted the ground as a ‘tick’ having only seen half a game there, but I’m going to for now. Not that it matters, as I will definitely be going back some time soon. I’ll try not to bring a storm with me this time.

Highlights: nice ground, good bar, decent game of football (for a half), welcoming players.

Low Points: not much in the village, game being abandoned at half-time.

See all my photos from Hrnčiarovce nad Parnou here.

 

 

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