Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sparta Praha U21 (Czech Republic)

Sparta Praha under 21 football team play at the club training base at Velký Strahovský Stadion; Great Strahov Stadium on Petřín hill overlooking the old town of Prague.

The stadium construction was started in 1926 on the plans of architect Alois Dryák. Initially built in wood, the stands were reconstructed in concrete six years later. The area in the centre measured 63,500 square metres.


The period between the Wars saw popular Sokol synchronized gymnastic displays at Strahov. Under communist rule after World War Two the renamed Spartakiáda displays saw crowds of up to 220,000 head to Strahov as volunteer gymnasts put on displays to traditional folk music.


The venue hosted motor racing in the late 60’s as well as becoming the Prague venue to may rock concerts from 1990 to 2002 including shows from The Rolling Stones, U2, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith.


My visit

Sparta Praha U21 4 Baník Ostrava U21 0 (Monday 14th March 2016) Czech Republic Juniorská liga - TC Strahov (hřiště č.1) (att: 200)


It was my final day on a long weekend visit to Prague. The fine morning was spent going up Žižkov TV Tower, walking down the hill and back up the other side to Vítkov before heading into the old town for lots of great photo opportunities; even if Karlův most (Charles Bridge) was rather packed.


Once I’d had enough of the crowds I headed to Švandovo divadlo to take the 176 bus, which dropped me outside Velký Strahovský Stadion. Before I went inside I called next door to Stadion Evžena Rošického to take some photos.


I had been looking forward to looking inside Strahovský Stadion. It was one of the iconic venues that first came to my attention when I was a young schoolboy at St Martins in Scarborough, where a Ladybird book featured great stadiums of the world. On my previous visit to the city I hadn’t been able to get inside.


There was still some time until kick off so I went into the club buildings inside the grounds, which had been built on part of the old field in the centre, for a cup of tea and to use the facilities. I was given a free teamsheet for the match and no admission was charged.


Ten minutes before kick off I headed across with several supporters I recognised from over the weekend. This fixture was an ideal outing for local retired football enthusiasts and a pleasant early afternoon with a 1pm start.


Looking around the stadium I was a little awestruck by its enormity, despite many of the stands and terraces now in poor condition. All four sides were still in place with large terracing at the front, backed by a couple of tiers of seating, with the top deck out in the open.


As mentioned the large Sparta block took over a small part of the field, but there was still eight perfectly manicured pitches for the clubs teams to use. Gone were the communist displays, but it was good to see the old place being put to use.



The match against Banik was being staged on the pitch in the south west corner, so the open terracing was ideal. There were a few benches spread around for the spectators to relax on.

The match was of an impressive standard with Sparta going on to a thirteenth consecutive win. After creating plenty of pressure and hitting the post early on, the home side went ahead on thirty minutes through Ondřej Šíma.


Tomáš Cabadaj made it 2-0 a couple of minutes before the interval. Sparta’s under 21’s looked a fine outfit, and went on to add another couple of goals in the last ten minutes from Vojtěcha Kolmana and David Čapek.


By then I’d called it a day and had caught the bus back down the hill and headed back to Hotel Golden City Garni with a lovely cream pastry for afternoon tea and a nice rest before heading out for a superb local meal at U Slovanské Lípy on Husitská before rounding off my break with a fine pub crawl around Žižkov.





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