May 05 2011

FK Senica v SK Slovan

Published by at 11:32 pm under Domestic,Guest and tagged: , , ,

First v Second, village minnows vs capital city giants.  About as poetic as Slovak football gets and we’d been looking forward to this for a long time.  Ralph Davies talks us through a different kind of away trip:

Welcome to the village at the top of Slovak football.



Most of the people on the train travelling down to Slovakia were hockey fans. I don’t need to tell you how huge the sport is in both the Czech and Slovak Republics, so it shouldn’t have surprised me when the train was full of supporters heading to Bratislava for the clash between Czech Republic and Finland later that day. All of them in colours and all of them sharing bottles of slivovice with fellow passengers [you hid that well Ralph  - Ed].

I was the only football fan in my carriage (unless the old lady opposite me was hiding a Spartak Trnava top under her jumper), probably the only one going from Brno to Senica to see the top of  the Corgan Liga clash between 1st placed Senica and 2nd placed Slovan Bratislava. Just to give some background to FK Senica, in 2008/9 season they were playing 4th tier football in Slovakia. The following season they ‚merged‘ with top flight Inter Bratislava and were allowed to take their place in the Corgon Liga. To me, that sounds exactly like Franchise FC and it’s such a shame that Slovak football lost a club like Inter, I am not even sure if the club exists anymore [they have started out again in the 5th tier, Bratislava league-Ed].  Going into today’s match, Senica were sitting ‚proudly‘  at the top of the league and looking at hosting European football next season.

Europe here we come, FK Senica go 1 up.

I digress, My first port of call was Kuty, a train station on the border, to meet Britski Belasi who was joining me for the trip.  After a quick pivo at the pub at Kuty train station (70cents for a large Corgon) we were on the train to Senica.  The town itself has a population of of just over 20,000 and has no mention in any guidebook. When I told friends I was going there, they couldn’t believe that I was staying the night. The general view „ Why? There is nothing to do there.“  My research had told me that there 48 pubs in the town. Of course we would find something to do.

Reasonably priced beer, check. Over-priced away end tickets, check.

After a short bus journey from the out of town train station to the centre of the town, we found  the first pub. It was a rough looking establishment with a slighly rougher clientele.  Almost upon entrance, we were told that  wearing Slovan colours was showing disrespect to people of Senica – not the best of starts. However,we were allowed to  finish our beers  but, not before being told by one of them  that Senica weren’t „allowed“ to win the title and that he was sure that the championship was heading to Slovan. The first pub, the first beer and the first mention of corruption. Welcome to Senica.

Pub number 2 was the hotel bar. We’d obviously chosen well as the Slovan squad were using it as a place to rest  before leaving for stadium.  As the players came into the bar for the final team meeting we thought abut asking them for a lift to the ground. Well, we were all going that way.  Instead we had enjoyably open chats with Karim Guede, Mamadou Bagayoko and top scorer, Filip Sebo aka Sebo Goal. Filip ( first name terms, see) in particular was friendly, spoke excellent English and told us things that can’t be published here, but will definitely be recounted should you wish to join us on future trips!  10 minutes later and with a wave goodbye we left them for Karel, a taxi driver with no interest in the local football team, to take us to the ground.

Karim & Mamadou .. Top Lads

Pub number 3 was a restaurant next to the ground. Unknown to this Britski Belasi tour there was an alcohol ban in all pubs around the ground.  However, we did charm the waitress into pouring us 2 large Bernards to wash down the chicken steaks we had also ordered. As we sat at the bar, we got chatting to the barmaid, who told us in no uncertain terms that if we wanted a good night out after the match, we should go to either Skalice or Trnava. Perhaps the stories of Senica were true.

As we walked towards the away end, it was obvious that security was tight. Slovan Bratislava have a reputation and it’s not a particularly good one. I had heard horror stories of Slovan hooligans smashing towns up all over Slovakia and as fans they are not  well liked. (As the photos that accompany this article will show, the away end was a lot of fun with no trouble whatsoever). Around 500 fans had made the journey up from the capital for the game and it wasn’t long before they started to fill up the away end.

The police hang around.

Open, curved terraces with fence at the front your thing? Slovakia's the place.

The game itself was really a game of 2 halves. Senica had the better of  first half and deservedly went ahead when Czech striker, Jaroslav Divis acrobatically scissor kicked the ball home to make it 1-0 Senica . Slovan were struggling to get into the game and at half-time they must have received a real rollocking from their coach Karel Jarolim as the 2nd half was a completely different story. In 69th minute,  Bosnian midfielder Mario Bozic lashed home  from  just outside the area and  ran to join the party in the away end. The celebrations were not to end there as after what seemed like a 20 minute onslaught on the Senica goal,  Guede was played in by the captain Zofcak, he calmly played the ball across the penalty area for the oncoming Sebo to fire home from just inside the 6-yard box.  Cue, wild celebrations behind the goal…

Sneaked past security & saved for 88 minutes. Ultra culture.

And that is how it ended, the 2-1 victory took Slovan to top of the league, one point ahead of Senica with 4 games left. With Zilina falling away  and possibly even relinquishing 3rd place, it’s Slovan’s title to lose.

Back to the away end the players and fans celebrated together for a good 20 minutes after the final whistle and  as a long suffering Zbrojovka Brno fan, it was great to see the joy on the faces of the Belasi behind the goal.  You get the feeling that Slovan were moving onto better things both on and off the pitch. Lets hope so.

SK Slovan, Vstante ked ste Belasi

We headed back across town, dodged a few stray fireworks, flares and smoke-bombs in the street, as the Slovan procession of cars set off for the 90km drive back to the capital horns tooting, flags aloft.  We were sure that there would find a couple of decent bars on the way home, but were truly disappointed and ended up hatching our own plan to open a sports bar for when European football hits the village of Senica next season.  Back in the hotel much earlier than expected, it was obvious we hadn’t missed anything as chants of “Sebo-gol Sebo-gol, Sebo-gol” resonated through the thin walls from an adjacent room. It turns out we weren’t the only Slovan fans in the only hotel in town that night.

Ralph Davies

Ralph is based in Brno & travels all over Czech, and now Slovak football following his beloved Zbrojovka and Slovan. Follow Ralph on Twitter right here.

For a full set of photos from the trip, click here.

And for a video from in the middle of the celebrations at the end, click here.

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “FK Senica v SK Slovan”

  1.   Estojaon 06 May 2011 at 12:14 am

    Great trip to Senica. And great that you chose the same restaurant as Slovan. Did Sebo recognised you after Petrzalka-Trencin?
    I´m thinking about going to Bratislava on 21/5 to see Slovan-Dubnica. Pity that Dan will not be in town on that day. Just let me know if you feel like joining me.

  2.   britskibelasion 06 May 2011 at 12:22 am

    He didn’t exactly recognise us, but he might do next time!

    It was a great trip, well captured by Ralph. The town was disappointing, there is no point in hiding that fact, although I had a wonderful trip back through the Zahorie villages today.

    It’s a pity that such extensive police resources are needed for a match like this, although I suppose there was always a risk that some troublemakers from Trnava might have turned up, especially as they’re not attending their teams’ home games anymore.

    I suppose it will take some time and plenty more matches like this for Slovan to improve their reputation, but it for sure the relationship between the club, players and fans is growing fast at the moment.

    Let’s see what happens on the Slovan Invasion of Banska Bystrica on Sunday, hopefully another incident free trip where we will be celebrating for the right reasons.

  3.   James Baxteron 06 May 2011 at 9:04 am

    Ralph, Enjoyable write-up of an obviously fine trip. Apologies in advance for bringing this up but ……

    ‘not before being told by one of them that Senica weren’t „allowed“ to win the title’

    What’s to be made of that? Is it just the menatality (and God knows it’s widespread enough in SK, even at school) that ‘if I don’t succeed it’s because of someone else’s unfairness, manipulation of the rules etc etc’? Zilina fans have been furiously peddling this sort of stuff since the Slovan match here five weeks ago – and were peddling it when Artmedia won the league back in 2005. Interesting that Senica fans, whose team was still top of the league going into the game, should also be so cynical.

    Should we just be contemptuous of such stuff? Or should we start to wonder. Here are three things that have happened in the last five weeks :

    1. Ref makes two mistakes in Zilina-Slovan game. Later makes very public, very grovelling apology to Zilina.

    2. Dobrotka slaps ball into net in last minute at Nitra to give Slovan a 1-0 win. Ref doesn’t see it was a handball, awards goal. Ref suspended for two games.

    3. Allegations appear in press of a certain SFZ official being flown to and from games in a certain football club owner’s chopper. (Let me emphasise it’s only the allegations that are a fact.)

    There are many many other facts too, of course. Notable ones being that Zilina have failed to score in 7 of 11 spring games, that an act of hooliganism at Zilina resulted in Slovan getting 3pts where they would probably only have got one etc etc.

    Still, whatever you think of this ‘Senica aren’t allowed to win the league’ attitude, even if it is just conspiracy theory crap, it is widespread enough to merit a bit of attention and is probably at least part of the explanation of why hardly anyone in Slovakia goes to domestic football.

  4.   Ralphon 06 May 2011 at 9:37 am

    Hi James,

    Hope all is well in Žilina and thanks for the kind words. I really don’t know what to think of the comment.. I hear the same thing in Czech Republic and I don’t really want to believe that “others” can influence the outcome of a football match. However, when you see so many decisions going in favour of a particular team, you do begin to wonder.

    Brno head to Uherské Hradište to play Slovácko on Saturday in a “must win” game. ( they are all at the moment ) and I am going there believing that it’s the performance of the players that will get the result. If you ask some of my fellow Zbrojovaci, maybe we might hear something different.


  5.   Ralphon 06 May 2011 at 9:45 am

    Hey Jose,
    I am in Prague on 21st. It is the weekend before that I am thinking of heading to Bratislava. It’s a shame there is no football on, but I am going there for the international food festival up at the castle and to sample hockey mania;-)

    Would be good to book up for more groundhopping soon.


  6.   Estojaon 06 May 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Ok. I might still go on that day to see Slovan, depends how busy I will be, May is usually a very busy month at work :-(

    Regarding other matches, football season is coming to an end in our area :-( but last weekend of May I will be in Ljubljana so I will try to see a match there.

    Regarding other matches before the end of the season, if you have some idea just let me know. Here some matches I would still like to see this season:
    - St. Pölten-First Vienna (13.5 at 18:30): I would go there to support First Vienna, who is now fighting relegation. Really nice small ground. I’m not sure on that one because my sister might be in Vienna on that day. So, if she comes I’m not going to the match. I also depend on work, as I said May is a bad month.
    - Wiener Sportklub-Rapid Wien Amateure (1.6 at 18:30): 2.6 is a day off in Austria. Last round in the group east of the Regional Liga. It’s a pity Sportklub won’t be fighting to promote but Sportklub is always worth a visit. Very British ground in the middle of the district of Hernals. Being the last game of the season there will be a nice atmosphere. I’m almost fix for that game.

    So Ralph and Dan, if you are willing to join me on any of those matches just let me know and we can organise something. And if you have some other ideas let me know as well. And if not, next season is closer than we think :-)

  7.   Danny Laston 07 May 2011 at 2:15 am

    Getting down to the nitty gritty for a minute if I may, is that can of beer on the train really 10% abv?

  8.   Ralphon 07 May 2011 at 11:32 am

    Hi Danny, It’s a bit confusing, but the percentage refers to the malt extract used during the process. The alcohol percentage is about a quarter of that, I think.

  9.   britskibelasion 07 May 2011 at 11:38 am

    haha, good eyes Danny!

    Unfortunately not .. they classify the beers in degrees, usually 10, 11 or 12 .. they put a % sign after it, but those particular cans of Zlaty Bazant were a mere 4.3% abv

    The following is an interesting explanation [in advance of your trip to Czechia later this year]:

    What are these “degrees” you mentioned?

    Beer is measured here with degrees, according to the method devised by Professor Balling in the 17th century. The degree sign caused some confusion for consumers in the past, as international norms used it to signify the temperature of brewing and other things. So it was changed to a percentage sign, which causes confusion among consumers today. Many think that the percent is the amount of alcohol, but it’s actually the amount of malt extract used in the brewing process. The percentage of alcohol is about a quarter of the “percent” shown on the bottle, so 12% beer is roughly 3.1% alcohol, though it’s often higher.

  10.   James Baxteron 08 May 2011 at 10:05 am

    Generally speaking, 10% tends to be about 3.5%-4.5% abv, 12% 4.5%-5.5% abv. And it’s not a problem in a pub that really prides itself on its beer, or a micro-brewery, to get 14%, ie well over 6% abv.

  11.   Isma__Fernandezon 12 May 2011 at 12:18 am

    I loved the video. I hope I can someday go and support Slovan as well.

    Great trip, very interesting.

  12.   Ralphon 13 May 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Hi Isma,
    Thanks for the comments. Are you a Slovan fan or just a fan of football looking for a different away trip? I have been on some great trips with Britski Belasi and always good to meet more like-minded people.


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