Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturdays are Zlatá - assuming Sky Sports so decrees.


Zlatá Hvězda is the most regular of my haunts, in particular between August and May each year. Admittedly during the summer months I am very rarely there, originally because I had gone home to Scotland in between teaching contracts, but generally it is because there is no football of interest to me during the summer. World Cups and European Championships only count on the years that Scotland somehow get to the finals. Australia playing Costa Rica in the group phases of the World Cup just doesn’t have much attraction for me, thinking about it neither does Brazil versus Argentina, I don’t follow international football at the best of times, international rugby is another question altogether.

Known to its regulars as plain Zlatá or even as “the sports bar”, despite there being at least 2 other sports bars on the same street, Zlatá is Prague’s original place for watching the Premiership on a Saturday afternoon, or whatever ridiculous time Sky Sports decide to shift games around to in order to maximize their viewing figures. Zlatá then is where I carry out my relationship with Liverpool FC, one that has seen me pours thousands of pounds into various pockets in the last decade alone, and what do I have? Hangovers from celebrating Champions League victories, FA Cup wins, a couple of Carling Cups, a UEFA Cup along the way, and many derby victories – which are always the sweetest of hangovers.

That’s the economic viewpoint. Zlatá is chock full of memories, great nights, hoarse throats and learning that lager was something that could be drinkable. The first couple of seasons, the beer of choice was Velkopopovický Kozel, back in the pre SABMiller days, when this was a lovely crisp and mildly hoppy lager that I could drink by the gallon. God knows what they sell these days, and no that doesn’t mean Robbie Fowler has patronized Zlatá. Not because I can’t see the signs that say Gambrinus, or that I can’t read the menu that says simply says 10° lager without stating the brand, but because the beer has such an awful reputation, I would rather drink mineral water when I go there.

Even though I very, very rarely take a beer anymore in Zlatá it still qualifies as a good pub in my world – because I know that every Liverpool game will be shown, regardless of whether it is being shown in the UK. Somehow, the owner will find it, and usually we will be there. It also qualifies because the staff are good, I am sure it helps that they know who I am, but I have never had a problem in there. Sure it is rather rough around the edges and a bit tatty, but that doesn’t bother me. I am sure there are plusher environs to watch sport, with better furniture and superior beer, but nowhere with the atmosphere that Zlatá can generate. Watching football in any other pub would be like sitting in the Anfield Road End instead of on the Kop, just not the same.

6 comments:

  1. Scotland? In a final? When did that happen then?

    ;-)

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  2. If I may have a moment of pedantry, I said the "finals" which if I remember rightly is the name given to the competitions in question.

    But still, one can dream and as long as the Calcutta Cup remains ours this year I'll be more than happy! :)

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  3. I was stupid enough to partake of the beer at Zlata Hvezda at the weekend, god it was dire.good atmosphere for the football though.

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  4. On the very rare occassions I do take a beer there it is the Pilsner Urquell, or maybe a rezane. They do a mighty fine mineral water though!

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  5. Good to hear more about your regular haunt for watching our boys. Reminds me of some good times I've had at my local pub, run by a true Liverpudlian no less.

    Oh, and Real Madrid's tonight at Anfield!

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  6. Bit too easy in the end, but who cares?!

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