There have been some magical tours in Connaught FC’s history: Barcelona, Lisbon, Malaga and Budapest. But the fifth anniversary of our annual tour was all set to be something special. Forty-one boys gathered at Stansted Airport on a crisp Monday morning ready for the week of their lives and I think I speak on behalf of all the lads there when I say: Prague delivered!
As elite athletes, the Connaught FC boys made certain that for the duration of the TOUR we consumed a balanced diet of beer, absinthe and 2€ pizzas from the restaurant next to the apartment. To maintain this diet, we pre-booked beer bikes to drive around the city with; 14 people per bike pedaling and drinking simultaneously (this was provided by Beer Bike Prague). I strongly recommend anyone thinking of going to the beautiful city to try this out because I just cannot speak highly enough about the experience. It all came to a very reasonable 350€ per bike. Considering how much beer was involved in this, no complaints can be made about the price really. It was also a great way to see the city as we covered many beautiful sights in the two hours on the bikes. This included a (much needed) toilet break at the site of Prague’s famous astronomical clock, the oldest of its type that still operates in the world today.
Perhaps unnecessary to say, we did actually take part in some football; as this was by no means just a holiday for the Connaught boys. Originally we had been booked in to play against a local team who were in fact in the third division of the Czech National League. Obviously we would never back down from a challenge, but unfortunately fielding a team of 41 with a grand total of 30 substitutes did not seem very practical, in the end we decided to have a small friendly between ourselves. Our TOUR stash for this year were the official home and away kits of the Czech national team with numbers on the back in order of drinking ability.
The friendly, pitted the white home team versus the red away team and I believe the score was 7-4 to the red team. Highlights of the match included Taras Vaschenko getting brutally outpaced by Zack Fuller one of our goalkeepers with Zack cooly slotting into the bottom corner. Dan Newall won our ‘fastest across land race’ and also scored an absolute worldie in one of the most impressive performances of the day. We followed up the match with our annual crossbar challenge which included some truly shocking attempts. President Luke Mitchell succeeded in hitting a small boy who was playing on the side of the pitch and Vice President Chris Swaddling managed to hit the corner flag. Many failed to reach the goal and no one succeeded in hitting the crossbar with freshers, Ali Dalton and Guy Cook,coming the closest. We blame our poor performance on hangovers and twenty five degree heat.
One of the best nights of TOUR has always been the fancy dress night. During the day we had a six aside tournament in our teams at a facility that the Slavia Prague team use, sadly not in full fancy dress as this could have been potentially disastrous. The Harry Potter team were victorious in the six aside with Theo Alden, who normally plays left back (in the changing room), proving the difference playing as target man. Arguably they also won the fancy dress competition with Mason’s attempt at Hagrid and Cory Zanelli’s Dobby outfit being some of the most outstanding costumes. Big shout out to the “Burlesque dancers” team who must have been freezing in their fishnets that night and also to Leigh Warren our former president who once again stole the show as a cross dressing hippy.
The trip would not have been complete without a spot of hungover tourism in the Czech capital. As the majority of the squad slapped on the factor 30 and headed out to explore the old town, seasoned traveller, Tom Rawson, decided he would much rather spend 4 and a half hours asleep in the bath, literally drowning his sorrows. Prague has been a cultural centre of Europe for hundreds of years with its truly unique blend of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era architecture throughout the city. We set off wanting to cover as much of this as possible. However, we endured our only fitness test of the week, as we struggled up the gentle slope towards the famous Prague castle. The castle offers amazing vantage points to overlook the entirety of the beautiful city. In smaller groups, we managed to cover the other main incredible sights of the city, including; Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge and the John Lennon Wall; proving to all of us how culturally diverse and stunning Prague really is.
So yeah. TOUR. What more can be said? But in all seriousness thanks Prague, you were great.
Until next time.
Connaught FC xx