Saturday 15 November 2008

FC Hradec Kralove; Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic

FC Hradec Kralove play in the second division of the Czech League, & this was the last match of my October 2008 trip. It was a Czech FA Cup tie at home to first division FK Teplice.

It was steadily raining all day, and the ground was a big 'bowl' where the rain blew right into the seats, where practically everything bar the back couple of rows were soaked. Whilst I was pleased to visit another ground I hadn't been to I was miserable! But I cheered up a little when they came out onto the pitch & Hradec Kralove were wearing white shirts & not the black & white stripes that appeared on their club crest. I was assuming they played in black & white stripes, & I just cannot root for a side in t*****g colours! ;-)

Whilst I tend to be 'neutral' at most games I'm at abroad, I do tend to plump for the home side, especially in matches like these, when they are the underdog. It wasn't to be as the visitors won by an only, second half goal.

Here is my brief write up that I posted on the Tony Kempster messageboard at the time:

"I got the the Hradec Kralove stadium about 4.00pm for a five o'clock kick off. I was the first fan in the sad is that? Basically it was getting dark, so I needed to get some shots in before it was night, which I did. 50 Kc to get in, programme 10Kc & an A4 club history (1905-2005) for 40Kc. Yes it IS all in Czech, & I don't understand it, but there were a few pictures in it.... The ground itself is a bowl, around an old track, no longer in use. Cover down both sides, with plastic bench seating all the way round. The floodlights in each corner towered over, and were an unusual round shape at the top. Most fans were on one side, huddled in the back few rows,as all the seats were wet from the rain. It was a thoroughly miserable & cold evening, & I couldn't wait for the final whistle! Not a reflection on the match, more the weather. Hradec Kralove had their chances, & if you were a neutral would have been hard pushed to decide who were second division, & who were top flight. But Teplice broke away in the second half, from their own box, brought the ball all tghe way to the other area, where he squared the ball, for the forward to make no mistake. And that was the only goal of the game in the 51st minute. On the far side was the away enclosure. A 'huge army' of six Teplice fans had travelled, but they were happy! I, for one, was happy enough there was no equaliser & extra time, though Hradec Kralove did come close a couple of times in the last few minutes! I would have been happy enough for them to have won mind...Their badge has black & white vertical stripes on it, and this appears to be their kit in photos. Well there was NO WAY I could plump for the home side, as I often do at neutral games, I've never supported a team in t*****g colours, & aren't about to start now! But thankfully they appeared in an all white shirt, with black trim down the side, with the town crest on the front. Presumably they're sponsored by the local council. black & white stripes. That's all that mattered to me!"

On the way to the ground I was fortunate to spot this passing trolleybus in the club livery.

Here is the ground as I approach it.

This sculpture was outside, presumably with some athletics connotations.

Here are the turnstiles, I like the old fashioned signage, with the stadium name.

Just inside there is the map of the ground.

And a noticeboard with match posters. Sadly I couldn't find one pinned up in the open anywhere, they were also pasted on municipal billboards around town.

We look at the ground from behind the goal, & we're about to explore it in a clockwise direction.

This is the main stand, with the club offices, changing rooms and so on underneath. But the majority of the crowd were on the opposite 'popular' side. You may be far away from the action here, but what it lacked in 'intimacy' was made up for me but the unusual floodlight pylons.

From this corner we look across to the other side.

And from here we also look back to the open end, behind the goal.

Here we look down the mian stand side. This 'boxed in' section was for the away fans.

Behind this stand were two training pitches, where both teams were warming up. This is the grass one.

And to the right of it the all-weather surface.

The grass pitch had a simple railing down one side.

With dugouts in the middle.

Here we are at the far corner of the all-weather pitch, looking back to the main stadium.

This was railed off all the way round, but no terracing.

There were these dugouts on the far side touchline.

What made this interesting was the crest & name of the club, which was before they became FC Hradec Kralove in 2005.

There was also a small structure behind the far goal, which unfortunately I didn't take a picture of, which had a noticeboard from the local hockey club, who use this pitch for their games.

There was an access road running along the touchline nearest to the stadium, and this had high netting running down the length of it, so wouldn't be suitable for spectators.

Walking back to the beginning of the main stand I passed the outside of the changing rooms & offices. I also managed to dive in quickly, not too far as stewards were about, and take a photo of the players tunnel.

Back in the main ground I'm heading towards the middle, and here you can see where the tunnel comes out onto the pitch.

With a good view directly above it, where we also see the stand opposite.

From roughly the same spot I look back to where we've come from.

And we're now heading on towards the scoreboard end.

A similar angle, but with the big club sign, with main sponsor on it.

From this corner, the closest I could really get to the 'corner flag' shots I like, we look across the pitch and, again, the stand opposite.

Here we have another good shot, looking back at the main stand.

A close up of the sign I just mentioned. Now you can see what I meant about the black & white stripes in the club badge.

Moving on we are almost directly behind the goal. A long way from the action. I'll bet it's a long time since large numbers of spectators watched a game from here.

Here is a practically identical view of the main stand, but showing the old, disused track area, showing-again-how far the fans are from the pitch.

This is the back of the scoreboard, with advertising which is viewed by passing traffic on the busy main road passing behind the stadium.

Now we're on our way round to the main supporters' side of the ground.

There is another 'fenced in' section, & the small group of 'noisy fans' seemed to go in this.
Behind, at the back, there was a path all the way along, and food stands, toilets, beer stalls & a small club shop.

This was the 'fenced in' area. No idea what the sign means.

There was this weird noticeboard at the back, mostly blank, but with some club notices & match reports on it.

Here is the popular side from down at the front.

And looking along the benches right at the bottom.

Here we see the 'fenced in' section from in front of it too.

Looking across the middle, as we did on the other side.

A glance back to the scoreboard end.

And finally we're looking towards the end where we started the tour.

But not before we look back down the popular side.

And across from the corner.

The pictures get darker now, I'm sure it is possible to digitally adjust them somehow, but I'm sorry that's way beyond me!
Here are the two teams lining up before kick off.

I'm not entirely sure what this is about, but prior to kick off 'proper' there was a ceremonial kick off, involving some local priest! If you look carefully you will see him in his cassock!

Here is a brighter shot, out in the open, under the lights.

And from the same end, looking into the popular side, in a rain spotted picture!

I decided to snap the scoreboard just after half-time, as I wanted to get out of this place as quickly as possible after the match ,as I was thoroughly fed up by now, wet & cold!

Down the other end of the main stand, not long to go!

Nearer the front I got a better snap, under the bright pylons.

This photo is way too dark really. But if you look very carefully you will see the away enclosure opposite. Will all FIVE visiting fans in it! Yes. only five of them! But fair play, they brought their flags, and sang throughout!