For the first time in their 92-year history Spartak Myjava will compete in Slovakia's top flight when it begins on Friday.
Spartak were playing in the third tier two years ago but back-to-back league titles have earned them a place among Slovakia's elite for the 2012/13 campaign. It is an even more remarkable achievement when you consider that the club comes from the town of Myjava, which is 50km away from Trenčín and has just 12,000 inhabitants.
Everyone at the club is now eagerly anticipating the opening game of the season, and it does not come much tougher than a televised trip to reigning champions MŠK Žilina. "We would like to prove that it is possible to produce good football without professional facilities," said club president and mayor of Myjava, Pavel Halabrín. "Our aim is to finish in the top ten but I believe we can fight for sixth place."
Gaining promotion from the second tier at the first time of asking may have come as a surprise to some, but not for the ambitious Halabrín. "It was just the result of our hard work in the last five years with a solid team and people who want to prove something," he added. However, even once they had claimed top spot last term, Spartak were in danger of missing out on the Slovak First League due to financial constraints.
The president, though, seized the opportunity to sanction a swift stadium reconstruction with new stands, seats and artificial drainage. That work ensured Spartak now meet the required standards and the club are raring to go.
"I believe we will go through the season with dignity and my team will gain respect from big clubs like Žilina, Slovan or Trnava," said coach Ladislav Hudec, who has previously had spells in charge of Saudi Arabia, ŠK Slovan Bratislava and FK Senica.
Team captain Martin Černáček played last season alongside his ordinary job and, although he still sees football predominantly as a hobby, he is relishing the challenge ahead: "We are all looking forward to Friday's game with more than a little bit of excitement."
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