May 28, 2019, 3:09 PM
Location: Outer Cheltenhamshire
Team(s): Cheltenham Town
10.30. Divizie D, Czech Tier 4.
Slovan Havlickuv Brod 1-5 Nove Sady
Admission CZK 40 (£1.30), Programme Free Attendance 80
17.00. MSFL, Czech Tier 3
SFK Vrchovina 2-1 MFK Vyskov
Admission CZK 30 (£1, oldies rate). No programme. Attendance 230
When you have been to a game each day on tour for ten successive days, then the question has to be what to do differently on day 11. The answer is obvious – two games.
The day started in Havlickuv Brod in the Czech Republic. It is a pleasant town, but we stayed there mainly because they were kicking off at 10.30 a.m. As we arrived on the Saturday evening, we had something to eat and a couple of drinks on the night before the match.
The Stadion Na Losich is two pitch set up, with a grass pitch inside a running track and a synthetic surface close by. The club buildings are between the two pitches. The game was on the artificial surface, which has been used by them for all the more recent games.
There is no cover provided for this pitch, but on a very hot morning this would only have been used for shade. The clubhouse includes a bar, and early morning drinks are popular here.
With both teams near the foot of the table, I asked about relegation, but when they said only one team would go down, I suspected this was a mis-translation. Soccerway reports that either 2 or 3 teams will take the drop.
The lower reaches of the Czech League are asymmetrical. There are two national divisions with the second division (Narodni Liga) fed by the CFL (C for Czech) and MSFL (MS for Moravoslezke). The CFL is then fed by three, tier 4 Divizie, while the MSFL has only two at this level.
Locally organised leagues then come in below this. At the start of the day, three teams were placed below the home club, Slovan Havlickuv Brod, with the visitors, Nove Sady being one of the trio, three points behind the hosts. If we had any thoughts that this could be a close-run thing, we were quickly disabused of the notion.
In simply terms, Nove Sady were better in every department and once they had taken the lead in the 14th minute, it was always clear which way the points were going. Nove Sady were three up by the break, and although Slovan pulled one back soon after the break, this did not lead to a change in fortunes and the visitors ran away to end up 5-1 winners.
We had left our baggage at the hotel, so we went to collect it and then wandered back to the station. Arriving close to an hour before our train’s departure we spotted no less than four bars on the road to the station. Three were closed while the last was a Herna (gambling) bar. This was open but would not let us in, (perhaps due to a membership rule).
When we got on the train, we headed to Zdar nad Savazou to check into a hotel. This was not the location of the game, but convenient as we had to come back through the town to carry on the journey. The hotel was even willing to start breakfast service early to allow us to easily catch the train in the morning.
From there, we moved on the Nove Mesto na Morave, where for reason not entirely clear, the home team is known as SFK Vrchovina. The ground is not far from the station is, to say the least, interesting. The ground is banked up along the side opposite the entrance with seats under cover and a club house behind that. To one end of the club, there is another servery selling the drinks to an outside area which itself has its own seats, roof and a further sales point for sausages and other foodstuffs.
Spectator accommodation continues behind the goal where you enter, but there is nothing behind the far goal and any terracing opposite the main stand has been lost to a construction site. We were told this will be a sports hall.
Vrchovina were the only one of the sides in this game in danger of relegation. This is the MSFL and Soccerway reports this as 1-3 teams down. This appears likely to be right if one the top team comes up from each Divizie. The MSFL/CFL boundaries are geographical and fixed, so it would be two up and down if one of the relegated teams comes into the MSFL, a reprieve if there are none, and one extra if the MSFL receives two from above. I think the matches the day before means it will be two down from the MSFL.
While Vrchovina had four teams below them and started the day only five points better off then the second bottom side, visitors MFK Vyskov were in fifth with no chance of promotion or relegation. Within the crowd of 230, we had room for small ultras groups from both sides. The home group managed to chant and sing almost continuously, allowing me to discover in the first half that they refer to themselves as SFK or SFKV (the S is for Sport), or as Mesto – the Czech word for town. A club such as the visitors with the initials MFK is basically Town Football Club. Only in the second half did they actually sing the name Vrchovina, which came out as Vir-cho-vina.
While the earlier game was one-way traffic in so far as the away team stayed in complete control, this was more of the proverbial game of two halves. Vyskov were clearly the better team in the first half and deservedly went in for the break one up. Vrchovina came out much more determined on their return, equalising the scores within three minutes of the restart and taking the lead just beyond the hour mark. It was an entertaining and hard fought contest that drew ten yellow cards from the referee
The result was important, as the two clubs immediately below Vrchovina also won this weekend, so a draw or defeat would have dropped Vrchovina two places down the table. As it is, if only two go down, Spartak Hulin have now fallen six points behind third-last place, while Valasske Mezinci, without a win all season have known their fate for some time. Three games to the end of season here.
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