TJ Družstevník Brestovany v TJ Družstevník Košolná
Štadión TJ Družstevník Brestovany / VII. Liga – Trnava / 5th November 2017
“Why are you here?” Good question. This more than appropriate question was asked to me by a colleague on this particular Sunday. My colleague was having an early afternoon jog through her village, when she spied me walking through the village by myself. I doubt she is used to seeing anyone walking through her village on a Sunday, let alone that Welsh lad from school. But here I was, another Sunday afternoon, another fix of Slovak village football. This time, it was Brestovany that would be graced by my presence.
I woke up Sunday morning slightly groggy from my day out at Stupava watching Inter Bratislava the day before and then indulging in a few Saturday night beers in Trnava. The Sunday morning lie-in was very welcome and I was looking forward to a quiet day in Trnava, which involved just heading to Bokovka to watch the Premier League’s Super Sunday offering. However, I decided I wanted some fresh air and so I had quick look to see if local AŠK Slávia Trnava were playing at home, as they regularly kick-off at 10.30am. They were not, but then I did spot that Brestovany were playing at home at 13:30 and immediately the idea was planted.
Brestovany is just over 5 minutes away from Trnava on the train and is the one but last stop before Leopoldov on the Bratislava-Leopoldov line. I’d been through it many times – on trains that just whizz through the quiet village – but never really thought about going there for football. Well, now I was. A quick look at train times told me that I could be at Trnava train station at 11:50 and be in Brestovany before midday. There was some contemplation and the usual questions ‘Do you really want to go watch Slovak 7th division football in another lifeless village?’ But I knew that asking myself question was pointless – I’m borderline sadomasochistic when it comes to putting myself through this sort of football.
As expected, I arrived into Brestovany just before midday and had an hour and a bit to kill before kick-off. What to do in such a small village? I’d have to find out.
I was actually presented with an early opportunity to visit the ground, which is positioned right next to the train platform, as some sort of kids’ game was going on. But, I deal with kids in school all week and I wanted to see if Brestovany had anything of interest, so I snubbed that opportunity.
I began my walk through the village and I was immediately impressed with the resident who had a kebab shop in their front garden – genuinely. What a life that must be. The more I walked though, the quicker it dawned on me that Brestovany really had nothing to it. Hence why my colleague was probably so confused as to why I was there. This was a quiet, residential village that had risen from the ashes quite literally, having practically been burned down by invading Ottomans in the 1500s.
Of course, there was a church, but that was about it and so I was now trying to keep my eyes peeled for a bar. I had located two and both were closed and in a village of around 2000 people, I wasn’t really expecting to find a third. I figured I’d walk up to the other end of the village to waste a bit more time and then may as well head back to the ground. However, just as hope seemed lost, I spotted a beer sign on the side of a small building atop a hilly road. The building sloped down a small hill, so I followed it around to a back entrance and to what appeared to be a bar. The sign on the door informed me that it had been open since 10am, so it looked like a result. I opened the door and went into one of the stranger bars I’ve been to…
It was a fairly sunny Sunday, so heading down the stairs into the dark depths of this building was disorientating at first. Eventually, my eyes adjusted and the bar environment revealed itself to me. I felt like I’d walked into more of a dungeon than a cellar bar thanks to the curving, stony walls and the axes and hatchets displayed on the walls. It was strange. There were small, darkened rooms at the bottom of the stairs, but the main hallway led to a small bar area at the back. It was dimly lit place, aside from the large TV on the world going through the results of the Slovak local elections a few days previous. The room was a cramped affair with two tables and a small bar, where the barman stood stoically behind it in his official England football tracksuit top. The afternoon was less than half hour old, but already one of the other 3 bar dwellers was half-passed out and struggling to get to his feet to go to the toilet. A half-drunken borovička sat in front of him. Predictably, the beer cost less than a Euro here.
With half an hour until kick-off, I was happy to escape the dungeon alive and begin the short walk back to the train station and then across to the football ground. The ground was a ramshackle, strange setup, but it certainly had character. I loved it for its shabbiness instantly.
From behind, if you ignored the goalposts, the ground appeared to be just a fairly large, battered, council house next to a field. The house really did look utterly beaten and clearly had had not a touch of love in a long time. However, walking through a gap in the fencing, the football side reveals itself. Where most people fix conservatories to the back of their houses, it looked like someone had wedged a rickety football stand onto the back of this one. Looking at it side-on, it really did look weird. The rest of the ground is surrounded by fields and is open to the elements. Winter is certainly coming to Slovakia and after earlier thinking I’d overreacted by putting on my ultra-warm, big, red coat for the first time this season, I was now relieved to have it. The wind had a crispy, coldness to it for the whole game and there was no real place to hide from it.
Underneath the one side of the stand was a small bar area serving cans of Corgoň and Gambrinus, as well as the usual borovička and slilovica. Unlike the majority of people at the ground, I didn’t fancy shorts this early in the day, so it was the horrible choice between the cans of fairly shit beer (Gambrinus just about won out). It was while I sipped away at my €1 can of beer that I noticed how contrasting the two teams were as they warmed up. Brestovany had a very youthful look about them, as they all had their gaudy, fluorescent boots on and some were choreographing elaborate handshakes Dele Alli-style. The away team from Košolná looked a far more experienced and rugged outfit.
With the warm-up done, the teams were readying to start. As they did, the Slovak version of Blue is the Colour played, just like it had at Piestany weeks earlier. However, more strange was the music chosen for when the players officially walked out and completed their prematch formal handshakes; for some reason, England’s badge clenching, passion-fest Three Lions played – we pretty much got to the end of it by the time the players were ready to kick-off. With the barman earlier wearing a Three Lions tracksuit too, it seemed Brestovany is a town of anglophiles.
When I had spontaneously decided to go watch football in Brestovany, I hadn’t expected to see any decent football. So it was much to my surprise that I was about to watch one of the best games I’ve seen all season (admittedly, there’s not been many classics).
It took just 4 minutes for the away team to take the lead and it really was a tits up from Brestovany… A low ball into the box was left by the covering defender, who clearly hadn’t seen the attacker behind. Said attacker tapped in. The headband-wearing defender, also club captain, looked rightly pissed off with himself. To be fair to him, he looked to be one of Brestovany’s better players, playing a sort of cultured sweeper role; a nice passer and set-piece taker, but no speed whatsoever.
There was a small band of about 6 or 7 Košolná fans mingling in the middle of the small gathering of home fans, which was nice to see. The two set of fans would have plenty to talk about too, as both teams attacked relentlessly with the wind making defending particularly calamitous.
The tide would turn in Brestovany’s favour, as first they scored a simple tap-in in the 11th minute, before a more wind-assisted goal put them 2-1 20 minutes later. For that second Brestovany goal, a long ball was played forward and it looked to be heading straight for the Košolná’s keeper hands, so the defence left it. Unfortunately for them, the wind sort of stopped the ball in midair and it kindly fell to an onrushing striker, who lobbed the goalie with a side footed volley.
In the 40th minute I witnessed what is probably the best save I’ve seen all season, as somehow the young, man-bunned Brestovany keeper fingertipped a powerful 20 yard shot onto his crossbar. Sadly for him, minutes later his net rippled, as a Košolná attacker outpaced the home defence, took the ball around the keeper and slotted into an empty net.
Half-time: TJ Družstevník Brestovany 2 – 2 TJ Družstevník Košolná
With another can of budget pivo in hand, I was ready for the second half and it was to prove as equally entertaining as the first. I was certainly more fearful for the second half though, as the switching of halves meant that I was now closer to Košolná’s left back, who, quite frankly, looked utterly terrifying. He had that maniacal, steely glare trademarked by Roy Keane. He certainly didn’t hold back in his tackling either and it wasn’t too surprising that he finished the game on a yellow card. The way he looked at one player taking a throwing near me would have been more fitting for the theatrical, exaggerated facial expressions of WWE, rather than the lowly Slovak 7th division.
In the 55th minute, Košolná grabbed the lead back. A great cross to the back post saw the away striker, who looked remarkably similar to Portugal’s Pepe, head in to the far corner. 3-2 to Košolná much to the delight of the handful of traveling fans.
It looked like the game was Košolná’s, as their more experienced lime-up began dominating the more youthful home team. In the 69th minute, Košolná made it 4-2 as a whipped-in freekick caused havoc for the home defence. The keeper made a crappy save, which then led to a defender mishitting a clearance with the ball eventually falling to an attacker to tap in. The Košolná coach remained unmoved by his team pulling further ahead, as he puffed away on a cigarette in front of his dugout.
Brestovany did push on, but were having little luck. The clock ticked down and past the 90th minute and it looked like we were done for the day. However, Brestovany did grab a goal deep into injury time. Initially, they were thwarted, as the most heroic of tackles stopped the striker scoring into an empty net; however, his tackle led to another home player retrieving the ball and passing across the box for an eventual tap-in.
There was to be no further late, late drama and Košolná held out for their win.
Full-time: TJ Družstevník Brestovany 3 – 4 TJ Družstevník Košolná
Unexpectedly, a highly entertaining game and a great way to spend my Sunday afternoon.
There were still 40 minutes until the next train back to Trnava, so I headed bid into the village hoping one of the earlier closed bars would now be open (one trip to the dungeon bar was enough for me for one day). Thankfully, the one in the centre of the village was. This bar also appeared to be a sort of unofficial club bar, as I recognized a few faces from th e game in there, before they were joined by a few of the Brestovany players.
The train back had a handful of Spartak Trnava fans on their way to Spartak’s 5pm kick-off against Ružemberok. I could have easily made it for that game too, but I quite frankly could not be arsed with a second game. I stuck to my plan of meeting Ju in Bokovka for some dinner, as Brestovany’s footballing arena had earlier offered no culinary delights at all and I was now starving. Despite Spartak flying away at the top of the Slovak league, their 1-1 draw against Ružemberok, which we ended up watching on TV just yards away from where it was actually being played, was a dull one. Brestovany had proved the more fun choice. It’s always good to champion the underdog choice.
Highlights: the dungeon pub (scary but different), quirky ground, awesome game.
Low Points: village was dead, no food and little drink option at ground.
See all my photos from Brestovany here.