Monday, May 17, 2010
Czech Republic & Poland May 2010
Slovan Liberec 1 Bohemians 1905 1.
in the Czech Premier.
Slovan have a neat, modern, covered ground of medium size where a smallish crowd saw an average game.
The away fans (in a corner wedge) outshouted the home fans (in another corner)
In mild, rainy conditions Bohemians took the lead with a Balek header near the start of the second half.
They held the advantage, reasonably comfortably until about ten minutes from the end when defender Kelic equalised.
Liberec itself can boast a zoo with white tigers and pink flamingos.
And some impressive buildings with one commemorating a visit by the Kaiser and another housing the Northern Bohemian Museum.
The town centre was quiet on this Friday night with a few german visitors enjoying beer at about 80 pence and much cheaper hotels than Prague.
Banik Ostrava 1 Sparta Prague 1.
The top two in Czech Premier met before a sellout crowd at the Bazaly.
Only a few Sparta fans made it into the stadium - most (judging by a picture in the Sport paper) were stopped by police.
Some 17,372 watched from inside and plenty from outside.
Tomas Repka (ex-West Ham) was the pantomime villain with an own goal, a booking, and for generally stirring up the crowd. He would ultimately have the last laugh,
scoring Sparta's winner in their final game.
Sparta were the better team with the ball and if anybody deserved to win it was them.
They would eventually equalise through a strike from 17 year old forward Vaclav Kadlec - a name to remember ?
Female referee Dagmar Damkova did well to control such an important game.
Overall it was an excellent atmosphere in an older style stadium, one that Banik are planning to move from despite obvious protests from the fans.
Back in the pleasant central area there was enough time for some street food and a drink.
Though not as lively as it usually would be, it being Sunday evening, there were still plenty of fans around.
Its a long train journey from Ostrava to Szczecin - over 11 hours.
Pogon Szczecin 0 Ruch Chorzow 0. Polish Cup semi-final 2nd leg.
It also wouldn't have been an easy trip for the couple of hundred Ruch fans who I saw being transported to the stadium in trams.
This being Poland they had about 10 police vans as escort.
Pogon have a good sized, horseshoe shaped ground and the 12,000 fans present produced another vibrant atmosphere.
The locals were keen to see their 2nd level team progress to the Cup Final after the first leg had finished 1-1.
So there were was plenty of noise especially as the home side continued to frustrate their higher level opponents.
Pogon were very cautious but well organised and although Ruch did get close with some scrambles they never breached the home defence and Pogon held on for the 0-0 and the
away goals win.
Cue the celebrations with many fans running onto the pitch.
Incidentally there was a boxing match staged as half-time entertainment.
Pogon will play Jagiellonia Bialystok in the final.
Arka Gdynia 2 GKS Belchatow 1.
Arka needed this win as they were bottom of the Polish Premier.
The game was played at the not especially cosy Gdynia Rugby stadium on a rotten night, with rain and a piercing wind.
Basically the ground comprises one stand with a few open seats to the right and some more for the 30 or so away fans to the left (27 in black)
with a kind of mural around the rest of the pitch.
Hopefully the redeveloped new stadium, nearby, will be cosier.
Arka had scored first through DR Congo's Joel Tshibamba, been pegged back before half time but following late pressure defender Szmatiuk was to poke in the winner.
It took a brisk walk back to the Gdansk-bound train for me to warm up, helped by a couple of vodkas.
Jagiellonia Bialystok 1 Ruch Chorzow 0.
7.5 hours or so on the train and you can be in Bialystok where the scenery is a bit more interesting, as we are much closer to Russia.
The game, on a much more pleasant evening, turned out to be another disappointment for Ruch (no ultras made it this time) who looked strong but limited.
Jagiellonia had some decent foreign players who made the game flow better and they scored a deserved winner via the head of Lithuanian Skerla.
The stadium itself has some re-building going on with just two sides in use but still space enough for the home fans to display their somewhat unusual yellow and red hooped colours.
I saw lttle of the city, apart from a rather ugly styled church.
Legia Warsaw 0 Wisla Krakow 3.
A surrreal experience, firstly walking from the Politechnika metro through the park area with no police around until you're close to the stadium.
Then inside where the stadium has only the older main stand open plus a few fans behind one of the goals.
And there is the self inforced silence of the ultras after the trouble in Lithuania and the aftermath.
The Legia fans (partner ultras - Den Haag) produced only the occasional outburst - directed at either the coach or the security men.
Not only might they struggle to fill the new stadium, due to fully open by July, let alone make it intimidating but they are also lacking a suitable team to enthuse the fans.
Only the younger players got fan encouragement (and the Everton bound goalie)
Wisla scored early in both halves and Pawel Brozek went on to score a hat-trick. The visitors (no fans) could have got 6 or 7.
Apart from the football I visited the excellent Warsaw Rising Museum which included a special commemoration of the Katyn massacre.
And in the centre was a reminder of a more recent tragedy - the death of the President, his wife and many others in a plane crash in Russia.
After the game - a pizza, some wine and the Polish league highlights on TV.
The Krakow Derby.
Cracovia 1 Wisla Krakow 1.
Some 3 hours by train from Warsaw and I'm in the equally historic city of Krakow.
This derby was played in Nowa Huta, the Stalinist showpiece area of Krakow designed in the Socialist Realism style.
Which couldn't really be said of the Hutnik stadium which was small and hardly a proper setting for the Holy War. A bit like Rangers v Celtic at the Withdean.
However what the ground lacked the game made up for with some very late drama.
The stirring operatic music got us in the mood and the Cracovia ultras cranked up the noise.
And we watched Wisla pass the ball better but fail to break down the home defence. Previous hat-trick hero Brozek went off injured.
But the league leaders were to gain the advantage after Boguski lobbed the goalie with about 10 minutes remaining.
So the expected result ...until in the final minutes Cracovia get a free kick and the cross glances off the head of Wisla defender Jop for an own goal.
At nearly the same moment Lech Poznan had taken the lead in Chorzow, so Wisla were no longer top and they will not win the title.
Naturally the Cracovia fans are overjoyed with a draw that felt like a win.
The small group of Wisla fans threw what they could find.
I took the tram back to the centre, bought some beer and nuts and watched the latest UK (political) drama.
more pics at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/381648550