In his latest column from the Czech Republic, ex-pat David Toms updates us on the progress of adopted club Bohemians 05 and contemplates the difficult pleasure of the score draw
as the build-up to the Prague derby begins in earnest.
In my last post here on Póg Mo Goal about my adventures in Bohemia, I noted that one thing which was apparent early in the season was that a lack of serious firepower upfront could hamper the team’s progress. And so, with ten games gone, it has proved. The stats speak for themselves: five draws, five losses, and a goal difference of -6. Only Baník Ostrava are faring worse.
Over the weekend, with the Signal Festival ensuring that even despite the onset of autumn, the darkening of the days, and the increasing tingle of winter in the air at night, people were still thronging the streets of Prague, I endured that most difficult of footballing pleasures: coming away happy from a draw. As my friend Jack had it close on half-time “There are shit nil-alls, and there are good nil-alls”. This, we agreed, was a good nil-all so far. By the end of the game, it was even better: a score draw where your team comes from behind, having gone a goal down against the run of play.
Bohemians, despite not having achieved much in the way of serious scoring chances, nevertheless looked, as they often do, the more comfortable side on the ball. Their opponents on Saturday evening, FC Zbrojovka Brno (Brno Arsenal FC to you and me), have certainly had a better run of form than the Klokans, but this largely deserted them when faced by the Bohemians in Ďolíček.
And, in a sign of the mutually cohesive masochism of football fans, the poor form of Bohemians hasn’t particularly had an adverse effect on crowd attendance. Certainly there isn’t the same numbers that showed up at the beginning of the season, but the crowd remains steady, and behind the goal in the boiler, the fervour is far from lessened. Indeed, this weekend saw an especially elaborate – by Bohemians standards thus far – display go up. Hrajte Fotbal!! Translates as “Play Football!!” and the banner shows a ballerina on the pitch with a football and an equals sign crossed out. The fans, it’s fair to say, might still be coming, but are obviously tiring of good, exciting play but with little to show for it. The beautiful game is often most beautiful when it leads to winning. Ballerinas the Bohemians are not, but their refusal to simply take a route one approach is commendable, if at times frustrating.
In this game, Zbrojovska Brno got lucky with a soft goal when, in the 75th minute, young Milan Lutonský took advantage of some fairly lax defending and found the net against the run of play. Spurred on by the home supporters though, Michal Hubínek replied within a few minutes, taking a good ball on the volley and sticking it right into the net on the 78th minute. While they pushed on from there, the lack of a real finisher upfront was telling and the tactic of playing the ball out to the left wing, while producing some exciting runs from Jhon Mosquera, was after a time predictable and there seemed to be few other ideas, or options available.
Nonetheless, the signs were largely positive, and while the fans may wish that the ballerina ball-playing translated into solid results, you feel that in time these things may come for Bohemians this season. For now though, we face the prospect of a Prague derby: next weekend we play Sparta Prague away in what is sure to be an electric encounter. Keep an eye here for my report on that!
Main image: Miriam Cohen Kiel.