Sep 19 2012

Groundhopping: Liptovsky Mikulas v DAC

Published by at 12:48 pm under Uncategorized

II Liga : Tatran Liptovský Mikuláš 1 DAC Dunajská Streda 0

My Slovak groundhop has become a very leisurely progression, so much so that, when I decided to make Saturday’s trip, it was with the realisation that Liptovský Mikuláš would become my first ‘new’ ground in this country since I made it to Trnava nearly two years ago.

Being a season-ticket holder doesn’t much help of course, since it sees you stuck in the same ground (Žilina in my case) every other week. And I first ‘ticked off’ the grounds of nearby Corgoň Liga perennials – Banská Bystrica, Ružomberok and the like – not long after I moved here. Most of those I haven’t got to yet are either a long way away (Prešov and Košice) or awkward to get to (Senica and Zlaté Moravce). I’ll make the effort for them all some day, but can’t quite shake the sense that there’s still plenty of time. Then there’s the fact that, even when an opportunity to visit a new venue does present itself, I sometimes pass it up in order to return to one I’ve enjoyed in the past. Dubnica and Trenčín are two examples of Slovak grounds that have a certain endless appeal, at least for me.

Even on Saturday, if Liptovský Mikuláš had been playing Šaľa or Ružina (sides I’ve seen in the fairly recent past), I’d probably have spurned them in favour of Trenčín v Myjava, even though I saw Trenčín v Žilina just five short weeks ago.

This is why I’m not really a groundhopper, I guess. Also, as attractive as the prospect of seeing the Mikuláš ground was, I was equally interested to witness part of DAC Dunajská Streda’s II Liga campaign at first-hand. Early(ish) season contests between teams lower down the table and pacesetters tend to be quite intriguing anyway, but I was both surprised and impressed that DAC were those pacesetters.The chaos engulfing them as they bid farewell to the Corgoň Liga in May had made me think they were more likely to go out of existence than quickly hit the top of their new division.

Off-field problems do still surround DAC – they had the water cut off at their ground in July, for example – but they have been putting things right on the pitch. Mikuláš Radványi returned as coach in the summer, after a one-year absence, one or two of last season’s more competent performers have stayed on, some decent youngsters have been given a chance, and two members of Artmedia Bratislava’s 2005 Champions League squad, Branislav Obžera (also a former Slovak international) and Branislav Fodrek are giving the benefit of their experience.

The II Liga doesn’t offer many opportunities to see players who’ve performed at such lofty levels, and Obžera and Fodrek wouldn’t be with DAC now if they hadn’t had some appalling misfortune with injury over recent years. Obžera, was carried off during an August 2009 Europa League tie between Ajax Amsterdam and Slovan Bratislava (whom he’d joined a year earlier) and barely played again until this summer. Fodrek joined DAC in March and is currently in his longest injury-free spell for five years.

Both played on Saturday but neither truly stood out. Fodrek, now his team’s captain, plays in central-midfield, takes all the set-pieces and never misses an opportunity to engage the referee in discussion. He is clearly a big personality, but nothing quite came off for him against Mikuláš. As for Obžera, a winger, he was always a pantomime villain at Žilina for his perceived habit of going down easily under contact. He hasn’t lost his pace or tricks since those days, but the Mikuláš defence seemed to be well-prepared for him. In fact, the best player on the pitch was a youngster, the home side’s central midfielder Miroslav Pastva, who looks a fine prospect on this performance.

It wasn’t a great game in truth. Mikuláš went into it having scored in just one of their eight league fixtures so far, while DAC’s record of ten goals in eight games was hardly spectacular for a top of the table side. A 0-0 draw began to look distinctly likely from about the 15th minute and most present seemed to have given up hope of seeing a goal when, with 20 minutes left, Mikuláš defender Martin Kubena finished sharply after a corner had been flicked on into his path.

A first defeat for DAC then, but I don’t think Radványi will be panicking. He refused to get excited after any of his team’s early-season victories, and he knows that, at this of all clubs, there will be further difficulties, as well as successes, ahead of him. In any case, the result could also be put down partly to ‘new coach syndrome’, Mikuláš having replaced Peter Kurek with Ján Karaffa just 12 days earlier. Their players were all eagar and focused, but it wasn’t difficult to see why their ‘goals for’ column looks so sickly.

But this was supposed to be a groundhopping piece, and Smrečianska 612 is a truly beautiful venue. Liptovský Mikuláš itself is a pretty dull town but it is also the western gateway to theTatra mountainsand thus enjoys spectacular surroundings. My hope was that, once in the ground, there would be at least one vantage point from which the view wouldn’t be obscured by tower-blocks. And there was – from behind the goal at the north end, you could see straight down the pitch, and across the railway line to the peaks of the lower Tatras beyond.

 

The facilities were basic of course – this is the II Liga after all – but care seemed to have been taken and everything looked bright and fresh. I wish now that I hadn’t left it so long to pay a visit here. Still, if the size of Saturday’s crowd (just 350) is anything to go by, football in Liptovský Mikuláš is still a relatively undiscovered pleasure.

James Baxter

2 responses so far




2 Responses to “Groundhopping: Liptovsky Mikulas v DAC”

  1.   Brian Owenon 27 Sep 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Correct about undiscovered pleasure. None of my in-laws in Mikulas had a clue where the football ground was when I asked (they all know where the winter stadium is). I think I’m right in saying it is not really a 2nd tier ground, more 3rd or 4th tier trying to keep pace with a team who have gone up the divisions. Have seen two games there, one back in the third division days. As you suggest, it would be good to see a few more people there. As it is, I enjoyed my visits but would make the effort to get to Ruza if there was the choice. (I’ve actually been to both on the same afternoon).

  2.   Jameson 28 Sep 2012 at 9:21 am

    I made sure I knew where the ground was before setting out. Had that experience before at II Liga grounds – that people don’t know there’s a football club in town.

    I expected a few more DAC fans there that day as well. You can make those who were there out in the top pic – the 5/6 guys in yellow tops. The local police (both of them) thought I was a Magyar as well when I got chatting to them. They wanted to know which DAC player was the ex-international!

    To be fair, home crowds at DAC have been decent. 1,400 the week after the Mikulas defeat, 1,500-1,700 until then.

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