Thursday 14 January 2010

Slavia Praha; Prague, Czech Republic

Slavia Praha are one of the oldest clubs in the Czech Republic, who play in the newest stadium.
The Synot Tip Arena was opened in May 2008, & I made my first visit here on 26th October 2009, for a match against Sigma Oloumouc.

This is the ground from the outside, taken from a footbridge over the road.

This is one of the entrances. The turnstiles are the modern ones where the tickets are read by a scanner in them.

The club shop is a a decent one, with plenty of stock.

Butv hidden round the back, away from the busy main road, it's ugly & looks unfinished. Possibly part of some costcutting, as it was overspent when built.

This stadium is built on the same site as their old Eden one, which sadly, I never saw a game at. It is situated in their working class heartland, as you can see by the blocks of flats in the background.

There is a car park behind, as you see here. Beyond this, like 'behind us' as if we're actually pointing the camera now, is the home of the Slavia rugby club, though I didn't take any pictures of that small ground on this visit.

This is one of the ticket offices, from where I bought mine on the morning of the match, to avoid the possible queues later.

Now I'm back at the ground for the 5.30pm kick off & I bump into these English groundhoppers! Stan Green; Eddie Smith & the 'grandaddy of them all' ...'Veteran'!

And here's the final one of their quartet-'Yorkieexile'.

Eddie was sampling the beer from one of the beerstands outside the ground. It was Gambrinus, who sponsor the top division in Czech football. It''s roots are in a local Prague brewery, but now owned by the huge Plzen company.

Inside, on the concourses, are the blander looking & more expensive food and drink outlets.

Inside the ground itself I am behind the goal, in the main home end. from my seat, in row 8, we look to the main stand to the right. This is the one with the smart frontage.

Looking directly across the pitch is an end that it identical to the one we are in. The small corner on the left, below the big screen, is the away section.

This is the stand down the side to our left, exactly the same design and seating as behind the goals. In fact you can stroll all the way round, even though those seats are more expensive. This is the stand with the ugly bricks on the outside.

I look across my stand, to our big screen.

Looking bakc down the other end we see the small group of away fans who have made the long trip from Oloumouc.

The players 'meet & greet' just before kick off. note the flags in the centre circle...and the ones being waved behind the goal...

A variety of different flags in the red & white of Slavia.

Almost kick off and the players are bringing the flags from the centre to the home end for the fans. Which explains why there are so many of them. Presumably they do this every match.

Marvellous! Even England flags! With the stand along the side in the background.

Practically kick off now, if you can see the players through the flags!

Here we look over to the main stand, where we see the lower level, with executive boxes behind.

And another glance down the other side. The ground is just under half full at our game.

At half time children take part in a mini-game on the pitch.

For some reason this banner in English caught my eye! I was once... ;-)

There are some more banners hanging over the corner, but it's the roof I'm interested in. Made from Canadian cedarwood apparently, the roars and songs of the home fans really does bounce off of it, they are loud, and I'm presuming it was built with acoustics in mind.

I'm now sat above the halfway line, in the stand that was to our left. I simply walked round, and sat in one of the empty seats! This is the view just prior to the second period.

In the far corner of this stand is the away support, in their own fenced in section.

From up this end we get a look at the seats behind that goal.

moving back along the side we see the much more packed home end.

Another look over the pitch, to the 'posh side'!

The home end again, closer.

The game is almost over, & the small away contingent are holding on for an unexpected victory!

Game over now, and a picture of the emptying stands.

And another of the far end.

While some stay a little longer in the home end to offer their support to the players, who still make a point of acknowledging their loyal backing.

This was to be my last snap, I like to finish a set with a crest of some sort, if I can find one, to complement the one at the start. This hoarding was outside the ground. I'm not sure who the player is, but I'm taking a guess that it's their most famous player, the legendary Josef Bican.

But this time I complete our visit with the back of this top worn by a fan!

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Beckenham Town

I took these pictures of Kent League Premier Division side Beckenham Town pre-season, in July 2009. It is basic, and long way short of Isthmian standard, if ever they were to finish high enough up the table to be considered for promotion, but it's more than adequate for their needs.
What it lacks in character I've always found has been made up in friendliness, and have always felt welcomed here on my previous visits; probably a dozen or so times over the years. And as an added bonus, it's also just a few minutes walk from Eden Park Station. not just that but two buses go past that run right by my street, a couple of miles away. I really should pop down here more often...

The ground is set back from the road, an access road doubling up as a car park.

Here are the turnstiles.

Once through them, to the left, and set back from the pitch, is the club house, and changing rooms.

This is the entrance to the changing rooms.

There are some tables outside the bar area, it was summer when I took these after all! Behind them you can see the railed off path for the players to the pitch, which is to the right.

There is hard standing around the pitch,and the ground is fenced in, as you can see, on the left.

This is the view down the pitch from the 'tunnel'.

Basic concrete hard standing, the goal resting on the fence, due to renovation work on the pitch.

Before we move on round the ground, we see the board from the current League sponsors.

And one of the former ones...

As was this newspaper company.

An unusual shot of the goal!

Moving along the side now, again just open hard standing, with the dugouts further along. Note the fence behind the training goal, on the left. On the other side is a second pitch, with no facilities around it whatsoever, which is often used by the Beckenham Town first team for pre-season matches.

There is this larger flat area of concrete hard standing. I have no idea why it's there. My guess is that they once planned to build some sort of new stand, but either ran out of money, or just changed their mind.

Now we have reached the dugouts...with a television gantry behind! not as strange as it seems. At the end of the '08/09 season they had staged a charity game, which was filmed by the Sky cameras.

We're now standing in front of the dugouts, looking back to the changing rooms end.

Looking across the pitch we are opposite the small main stand.

Continuing our stroll round the pitch we see the rest of the hard standing that goes to the next corner.

Dumped by the perimeter fence is an old roller.

Now behind the far goal it's hard standing as well, the only 'overhang' being from the trees outside.

From this end we glance all the back down the dugouts side.

There's a good vantage point just outside the ground, from this tree house!

Now we're at the next corner, the only thing missing from this picture is a corner flag!

We're on the last stetch now, more open hard standing, leading up to the stand.

And here we are! Granted it's not much, but it is lovingly painted in the club colours.

Here is a shot of it from the pitch.

No seats as such, just 'wooden benches'.

Beyond this is more of the hard standing, leading back to the entrance.

At the corner you can see how far back the entrance, & club buildings, are.

One last look over the pitch...

Passing the turnstiles as we leave.