WALES AWAY: Slovakia 2024 – Part Five – Trnava And All That Jazz (09/06/24)

After fitting in three gigs in grassroots venues, we bring our tour to an end with a stadium gig.

The grassroots circuit is often referred to the ‘Toliet Circuit’, which, for those not familiar with the scene,  is mansplained by Wikipedia (other Pedias are available) as..

The toilet circuit is the network of small music venues in the United Kingdom which rising indie, rock and metal bands often visit to gain support and promote themselves. The name may refer to the size and often the cleanliness of the venue, or a lack of dressing rooms leading to the band being required to change in the toilets.

Which is quite apt, as the venues we have visited all had interesting toilets.

The Rhiz, Vienna


The Chelsea, Vienna
Fubar, Bratislava
Banks of the Danube, Vienna

I have to say, I’ve been very impressed with some of the toilets on this trip.

In many European countries, France in particular, the pubs and restaurants only have one toilet. When catering for large crowds of thirsty football fans, that often leads to messy disasters.

In France for the Euros in 2016, I recall the queue for the one toilet being so long, after I came out I simply got back in the queue because I knew I would need to go again by the time the queue went down. In another you they didn’t actually have a toilet and you had to get a key for the toilet in the building next door.

However, in Vienna, Bratislava, and Trnava, the toilets have been numerous and I’ve not had to queue once. Whilst the artistic toilets in the grassroots venues above were interesting, the most impressive has been in a more mainstream venue, The UFO Bar, where you can literally piss yourself looking down from a great height. There’s a similar view from Trap One.

UFO Bar Bratislava

Anyway, talking of crap, today we headed for Trnava and The Anton Malatinský Stadium AKA the City Arena.

Many were already staying in Trnava, some made their own way on public transport,  or there were two groups of organised buses. There was the civilised Wonky Sheep Crew and the Lee James possee who, inexplicably, were given a police escort.

Police escort bringing in fans

After the rowdy chaos of Bratislava,  Trnava is much more laid back. We found ourselves sat outside a nice little restaurant drinking with a former member of Welsh language punk band U – Thant, who now makes a living doing the technical side of Action Replays for TV.  He does a mixture of Sgorio, Scrum V and Cow Tipping at the Royal Welsh. He doesn’t do Wales Football because,  in his own words, he gets too excited.

He comments on the bohemian surroundings. “I was expecting the area to be like Canton. Yet here we are drinking red wine outside a quiet cafe, having a pre-match salad. It’s more like Pontcanna”.

And even the urinals have lids!

Eventually we head down to the stadium. It is the home stadium for club side Spartak Trnava and the Slovakian National Team.

It has a seated capacity of 18,000 but tonight’s crowd is merely 6,000.  Tonight’s line up doesn’t have the crowd-pulling capacity of Taylor Swift. Although the FAW policy of ticket holders needing to show passports in the country to collect their ticket does avoid the Ticket Master issue of tickets going at ridiculously inflated prices.

The warm up act is a bizare recreation of a scene from the film Kes, with a guy swinging a lump of meat around his head for a bird of prey to catch. The Welsh contingent of the audience show their appreciation with a rendition of the classic, “What the f**k’in hell was that?”

Kes reenactment


Prior to the first set, the Wales fans burst into a rendition of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ which would have done the crowd at the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ proud. 

Many of the travelling fans were hoping for some of the classic hits from the 2016  Tour of France, but with a significantly changed, less experienced line-up since then, a repeat of the more complicated solos and duets that were rolled out that year were unlikely.

As the second set started, many fans were becoming restless and disgruntled with the newer material and there were murmurings of discontent on the terraces.

As the gig came to an end there was no encore, or indeed extra-time. But the players were given a long standing ovation. The reception for the conductor was less rapturous.

As we drove back to Bratislava, many were calling for change and a return to the 2016 set list. Many of the older heads were remembering that this is more like the original line-up and newer fans have been spoilt in recent years.

Ultimately, just like Glastonbury, the attraction of Wales Away is about far more than what is going on on the big stages, it’s about what goes on in the bars and cafés, it’s about the fringe events, it’s about what goes on late at night.

And just like people buy tickets for Glastonbury before knowing who is playing,  we will still be organising our holidays around the FAW tour dates.