Meteor Praha’s opponents today were not NY Cosmos or LA Galaxy or Red Star. Unfortunately. But instead FK Steti. Still that was not enough to stop us getting out of bed for another 10.15 kick-off as we ventured in the deep, dark realms of the Czech fourth tier. One would think that the previous day’s three matches would have been enough. One would be foolish to think so.
Another entirely reasonable CZK 50 (EUR 2) entry fee was enough to get us tickets to enter into the quite wonderful, Fotbalový areál Libeň. Meteor Praha is one of the oldest clubs in the country founded in 1896 and were one of the founder members of the Czech First Division in 1925. They won one game out of the nine game season and finished bottom, but avoided relagation as the league expanded. 1926 saw middle table respectability before a winless 1927 resulted in demotion to the nascent Czech Second Division. In 1930, Meteor returned but again failed to win. As a result of this, they have been abolished to the far flung reaches of provincial football ever since.
Now Meteor ply their trade in the top level of the Prague league. Still, what a beautiful place to watch football. I have never felt as close to the players as I was here. More or less standing on the touchline, cowering in fear of a stray ball whenever play came in our direction. The quality was not great, but we were not expecting so much. Behind one goal is an incredibly steep, three or four step terrace. A beautiful old stand spreads along one side of the pitch and the rest of the pitch is enclosed by an intimidating metal fence. The home team, away team and officials all have different entrances to the pitch. A small buffet provides the locals with all their beer and sausage needs together with a small understand restaurant for those who are just there for the beer.
The game was competitive, but Meteor always had the edge. Up top they had an old, slightly overweight striker. He held his own clearly indicating a player who had played at a higher levels when his legs were fresher and his hair thicker. A little bit of research turns out that I am wrong. Jan Fíček has been at Meteor for over a decade after being released by Slavia Prague as a youngster with some injury issues. Since joining Meteor, he has scored nearly 400 goals in 500 games over 12 seasons. This is pretty incredible. He clearly loves the game and was going around the pitch on his own replacing divots that had been displaced during the game. Good man.
Fíček did not score today though. The first goal for Meteor came from a corner where an unmarked centre back nodded home from close range. Steti came back into the game, but lacked the composure to really test the man born to be a goalkeeper between the sticks for Meteor. The game was decided in 69th minute when a clash in front of us resulted in a red card for Steti’s, Malak. Both Malak and a Meteor player went in hard for a 50:50 with the Meteor player than kicking out at the grounded Malak, who copped when in the face. Malak then writhed around like a dead man before jumping to his feet and pushing over his fellow combatant. They both should have gone. Malak did with a red mark on his cheek to add a wee bit of insult.
Meteor went on to score two more with the numbers in their favour. Are they poised to return to their heights of 1930? I doubt it. But another lovely place to watch football.
And that concludes the football version of the Ring Cycle. Thank you, Wagner. Thank you, Martin. Just enough time for another smazeny syr…
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