On Thursday 20th February, my son Phillip and his girlfriend Lisa, flew into Prague for a four day visit. Yours truly paid for the flights as a birthday and Christmas present 🙂
Their visit fortunately coincided with the resumption of the Czech football season following its mid-season break. Like many leagues in Central Europe, the Gambrinus liga, (the top tier of Czech football), cease playing during the period when harsh winter weather is most likely to occur. There had therefore been no matches since the very beginning of December. It is ironic that this winter has been so unusually mild in the Czech Republic, that matches could have continued to be played right through the mid-season break.
Immediately behind where the Chaplaincy Flat is located, is the stadium of FK Dukla Praha, one of the four Prague football clubs currently playing in the Gambrinus liga. Phillip and I have often talked of going to see a Dukla home game together and the evening of Friday 21st February, finally gave us the opportunity to do so.
FK Dukla Praha were playing FK Teplice, a clash between two teams respectively fourth and third in the league. Not surprisingly, it was one of the weekend round of matches chosen for live television coverage, meaning the kick-off was at 20.15, rather than Dukla’s normal starting time of 18.00 on a Friday evening.
A most entertaining game resulted in a 3-1 win for Dukla with all their goals being scored in the first half. The Teplice consolation goal came near the end of the second half. It was an ‘own goal’, the ball coming off the head of Dukla defender Marek Hlinka. He had previously scored the third of Dukla’s goals and so had the dubious distinction of scoring at both ends 🙂 The result meant that the two teams swapped places, with Dukla moving up to third and Teplice dropping to fourth.
As I’ve previously highlighted in a blog post from October 2011, there are numerous contrasts between attending a top flight football game in the Czech Republic, and attending a similar game in the UK. My ticket cost 130k? (just over £4.00) which is about 10% of what an adult might pay to attend a Premier League game. And for 30kc (just under £1.00), you could buy 0.5l of Gambrinus beer and take it with you to drink whilst watching the match! One nice touch was the beer being served in strong plastic ‘glasses’ on which a deposit of a further 30kc had to be paid. But this was reimbursed when the ‘glass’ was returned at the end of the match.
There was a small police presence outside the ground but none within it, so far as I could see. Inside the ground, there were a number of stewards who had very little to do except watch the game, bearing in mind that the total attendance was only 1958. And whilst there was a band of more enthusiastic fans singing and chanting in a group well below us in the main stand, nearer the pitch, there was no foul and abusive language to be heard.
Instead, during the match, I could not but help listen into a fascinating conversation going on behind me as a Czech man explained various aspects of the game, to the young lady sitting alongside him, doing so in second-language English. I eventually discovered, (once I let on I could understand every word they were saying 🙂 ), that the young lady was the Czech man’s Armenian girlfriend. He not speaking Armenian and she not speaking Czech, second-language English was their means of communication.
Altogether, it was a most enjoyable evening with the added bonus that it only took ten minutes to walk home with the whole route being either downhill or on the level!