The A to Z of the EFW Oktoberfest
The 2011 EFW Oktoberfest will take place between October 20-24. Based in Prague, and branching out as far afield as Bratislava, forty or so fans of clubs from all around Europe will attend a festival of football, beer and giggles. Danny Last and Stuart Fuller put some meat on those bones......
A is for the Airport. Prague's airport, Ruzyne is located about 10 km outside the city. You can get a bus and metro into the city centre, or a taxi. Or a Stripper Bus that includes, er, a stripper. Make sure you negotiate the price before you get in one otherwise you will be the only one feeling a right tit. A is also for Absinthe, the anise flavoured spirit that was until relatively recently banned in the UK. Not one for the faint hearted or those who do not want some weird dreams.
B is for Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and our venue for the first night of Ocktoberfest 2011 for the Europa League game between Slovan and Paris Saint Germain and I am sure a few local brews in the historic city centre. B is also for Beer, the main export of the Czech Republic which I am sure we may sample during the weekend, the most famous surely being Budvar.
C is for Charles Bridge or Karluv Most in Czech, the iconic crossing over the Vltava river. It is rammed with tourists during the day, looking at the 30 Statues of Saints and Martyrs that adorn the walls. Come here at midday to be pickpocketed or ripped off by card sharks. Stagger across it at 3am when we return home and enjoy the beauty and majesty of the architecture.
If you're a fan of Michael Bridges then Prague is for you my friends
D is for Dukla Prague. All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague away kit sang Half Man Half Biscuit. They are still the most iconic team in Prague and fingers crossed we will be heading to the Stadion Jusila during the weekend to see the eleven times Czechoslovakian champions. D is also for Diky which doesn't refer to the contents of Andy Hudson's pants but means Thanks.
E is for Euro, the currency of choice now in Czech Republic [Edit: not strictly speaking true, see comments section for details -Ed] and Slovakia. Best not use some of the back street money exchange places that will issue you with €30 notes featuring a picture of Helen Mirren on. The most important figure to remember is €1.42 which was the average price for a half litre of beer in Prague last year. E is also for Eva Herzigova. Do we really need to spell that one out for you?
F is for Football, which is what we are here for. At least four games over the four days. And if the football is crap, which deep down we know it will be there is always the beer.
G is for the Generali Arena, home of Sparta Prague and the Czech Republic's most successful team. True fact - Sparta employ girls from local "clubs" when they play UEFA games to act as "hostesses" in the VIP areas. It is a modern arena, similar to about half of the grounds now in the Premier/Football League. It does have its own McDonalds restaurant though - phew.
H is for Hradcany which is the area that sits above the city and the location of Prague Castle. It is reportedly the biggest castle by area in the world. It was from the windows of the castle that Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen before going back to bed with a huge hangover.
I is for Ice Hockey which is the national sport and unbelievably more popular than football. The Czech's are one of the best country' in the world and were World Champions in 2010. Both Sparta and Slavia Prague have Ice Hockey sides that are as bigger rivals in this sport as they are in football. It is one of the dullest sports known to man. But we might go anyway.
J is for Jan Koller, the Czech's most prolific goal scorer and one of the tallest at 6ft 7.5 inches. His 55 goals in 91 internationals have earned him legendary status in the country. He only actually played 29 club games in the Czech Republic before heading off elsewhere.
K is for Kafka. Franz Kafka, novelist and political thinker was born and raised in the city. After a few too many Absinthe's he wrote some very strange stuff including such pearls of wisdom as "Don Quixote's misfortune is not his imagination, but Sancho Panza." For more of these nuggets head over to his museum which is somewhere in the city.
L is for Lap Dancing bars. There are quite a few of these in the city centre catering for all tastes. If your pleasure is one legged cowgirl wrestling then you will find it somewhere.
M is for Miluji te which means I love you. Try and avoid uttering these words to anyone during the weekend. If you are lucky you will get an invoice for services rendered, if you are unlucky then you may find yourself in A & E.
N is for Nedvěd. Of course, Nedvěd. Nedders, as he is not known, became the biggest Czech export since the Škoda when he moved from Sparta Prague to Lazio after Euro '96. He won the Ballon d'Or in 2003; a prize we're legally contracted to describe as 'prestigious'. He was famous for his relentless energy, the like of which would come in quite useful on one of these trips where sleep comes second to talking nonsense long into the night. Oh, and to save you looking it up: 106 goals in his 465 senior career appearances, and 18 goals in 91 appearances for the Národní tým. N is also for Na Zdravi the Czech word for cheers. Cheers.
O is for Oktoberfest. Now in it's third year, this annual event is the best (long) European football weekend of the year. Around forty like-minded football supporters, full of giggles and without a hint of malice among them. The idea originated when football fans from around Europe began taking an interest in the trips from this site and those of The Ball is Round. So we teamed up and formed an unbeatable partnership that could span Europe and bring people together in a way that even the most ardent Eurosceptic would be proud of. *Wipes away single tear.
P is of course for the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague. It's here where the heart of the country's football beats the loudest. Prague has 16 (sixteen) teams in footballing pyramid and, if you play your cards right, you can see as many as six of them play on any given European football weekend. P is also the for the Czech word for beer, pivo. Dve piva, prosim (two beers, please) was the first thing we learnt in the Czech language. Handy.
Q is for the Prague Quadrennial which, like the World Cup, is held every four years. It's the world's largest event in the field of scenography and, quite naturally, we would be all over it this weekend if it wasn't for the alternative; football matches at Slovan Bratislava, Dukla Prague, Slavia Prague, Admira Praha, Sparta Prague B, Slavoj Vyserad and lord knows who else. That competitive presentation of contemporary work in costume and theatre architecture for dance will have to wait. Shame.
R is for Radish: a lovable, unpredictable, eccentric Polish groundhopper. Radish was the first person to show up on the inaugural EFW Oktoberfest in Tilburg. He arrived sporting a technicolour suit, a mad hairdo and the best beard in Europe. If you spot a glint in Radish's eye over the course of the weekend, it means he's sneaked in another game somewhere whilst the rest of us were in the land of nod. He does this every single time. We all love Radish.
S is for Stoffers - King of all of the World. Stoffers huge - he is over 7ft tall - presence looms large over every EFW Oktoberfest. The 1860 Munich fan is the glue that sticks us all together. A lionhearted chap who makes sure we all get home safely at night; that we take in a bit of culture with our football and that we stick to local traditions thus avoiding the wrath of any local hooligans. Stoffers once uttered the immortal phrase "European Football Weekends changed my life". We all love Stoffers.
T is for Tickets which, happily, are as cheap as chips here in Prague. It'll set us back around £1 when we go and see F.K. Admira Prague. That's unless you are a woman, in which case it's free. This could well be red rag to a bull for some of the members of Team EFW who have been known to cross-dress and dab a bit of makeup on in their time. You want names? Well, Stuart Fuller was crushed by eyeliner when we went to Royal Antwerp once and, talking of them, their most famous fan Hans Bressinck - who comes with us on these trips - dressed as a woman to get into Fenerbahçe for free a couple of weeks back. No, really...
Spot the Hans. Shocking new picture emerges from Fenerbahçe women-and-children-only game.
U is for U Vejvodů. A beer hall near to our accommodation which knocks out local brew for £1 a pint. Hungry? How about Vejvoda's pan. It's a dish for 4-6 persons including: roasted pork knee marinated in dark beer (it's worth reading that bit out loud), 1/2 Roasted duck with apple, moked pork ribs, Grilled sausages, Pork nuggets, Bread dumplings, Potato dumplings, Bacon dumplings,White and Red Cabbage. It's also been noted that they sell beer cheese. Once again, that's beer cheese. Beer. Cheese.
V is for Viktoria Žižkov, who we love not only for supplying us with the tricky "V" and "Z" of this A to Z, but for having a traditional kick off time of 10:30am. Smoke fills the air of their stadium every other Sunday morning with both the flares of their ultras and the sizzle of sausages that are cooked underneath the stands. If there is a better way to spend Sunday morning than a trip here, then we've yet to find it.
The sizzling sausages of Žižkov #toungetwister
W is for Wenceslas Square. The main square in Prague which held the country's biggest footballing party following the Czech's unlikely appearance in Euro '96. They lost, to Germany, but that didn't stop the locals partying like it was, erm, 1999. That tournament put the Czech Republic on the map, and as such you can't really blame them for covering the square in a sticky substance (beer) on that occasion.
X is for Xmas Prague markets which are some of the best in Europe. Here you can pick up Russian dolls in the colours of your favourite football team. Just check for any dodgy spelling first eh....
A Brighton and Have Albion Russian Doll, anyone?Y is for Ymen-oo-ye-seh Stoffers, which is the phonetic spelling in the Czech language for Jmenuji se Stoffers (My name is Stoffers). Say this in any of the beer halls in Prague and, word is, you get a freshly poured glass of kelt on the house. Tip.
Z is for the Žižkov Television Tower; a unique transmitter tower so tall that, even with a mid-range pair of binoculars, the Czech John Motson can oversee and commentate on any game in the whole country. Z is also for Zlý Časy; a pub we've been tipped off about which serves 24 (twenty four) local beers on draught. It sounds like we'll be in beer and football heaven. Again. Bring it on...