Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Sunday, February 5, 2017

FK Dukla Praha (Czech Republic)


FK Dukla Praha is a football club from the Czech capital who were formed in 1948 as Dukla ATK, the Army Sports Club. The club competed in military competition before entering national competition, playing home games at Strahov.

Initially the club struggled in the league because of a lack of players to select from. When Karel Kolský became head coach, he realised the importance of having a settled squad. He was assisted in his recruitment of players by the Army.


In 1953, the club became known as ATK ÚDA Praha with the adoption of their traditional club colours of deep red shirts with gold sleeves. The club went on to win the 1953 Czechoslovak First League title as reorganisation of sport in the country took hold with players having to represent their employee clubs where they existed.

The triumph led to the majority of the side being selected to represent Czechoslovakia at the 1954 World Cup, with František Šafránek, Svatopluk Pluskal, Jiří Trnka, Ladislav Hlaváček, Otto Hemele, Jan Hertl and skipper Ladislav Novák all making the journey to Switzerland.


From an early time the club was not popular amongst the general public because of their background, not helped when Hemele, Ipser and Trnka were cherry picked from rivals Dynamo Praha, as Slavia were called at the time.

In 1956, the club became Dukla Praha and lifted their second league title as Milan Dvořák topped the scoring charts. Stadion Julisce opened its doors in 1960, in time to welcome in a great period in the club history.


The Czechoslovak First League was sealed in 1961 with the help of Rudolf Kučera’s goals. He also went into the record books as the first ever goalscorer at Julisce. Dynamo Žilina were defeated 3-0 in the Československý Pohár (Czechoslovak Cup) to complete the double.

In 1962 Czechoslovakia finished runners-up to Brazil at the World Cup. Dukla provided
Svatopluk Pluskal, Josef Masopust, Jozef Adamec, Josef Jelínek, Jaroslav Borovička, Pavel Kouba and captain Novák for the squad.


Dukla went on the win a further three consecutive league titles, to make it four in a row. A second double was secured in 1965 when Slovan Bratislava were defeated on penalties at Stadion Letná to win the Pohár. The Cup was retained the following year with a two legged final win over Tatran Prešov.

The stellar Dukla side of the time also reached the quarter final of the European Cup on three occasions during the golden spell. The all conquering head coach Jaroslav Vejvoda departed following the triumphs of 1966 as several players also moved on, while young keeper Ivo Victor began to make his mark at the start of an illustrious career.


Dukla reached the semi-finals of the 1967 European Cup, but went out 3-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Celtic, and the Cup was won again in 1969 as VCHZ Pardubice were seen off over two legs, but there was to be a fallow period for loyal fans at Julisce to endure after that.

It would take the reappointment of Vejvoda as team boss before more honours were to arrive, as the team lifted their ninth league title in 1976-77 after Zdeněk Nehoda, František Štambachr and Viktor assisted the national team to the 1976 European Championships title.


Another title followed two years later; before legendary player Ladislav Novák took over as coach, going on to lead the side to another league championship in 1978-79. Novák’s side would also win three Pohár’s under his direction.

Dukla Banská Bystrica were beaten after a replay in 1981, Slovan Bratislava 2-1 at Stadion Evžena Rošického in 1983 and then Lokomotíva Košice 3-2 at Příbram in 1985 to go with the club’s eleventh league title in 1981-82. Dukla’s run in the 1985 UEFA Cup-Winners Cup reached the semi-finals before going out to Dynamo Kiev.


Jaroslav Jareš was head coach in 1990 as Inter Bratislava were defeated following a replay at Prešov as Dukla lifted their eighth national Cup.

Dukla hit a period of struggle, and were relegated in 1993-94; the first year of the Czech Liga following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in January 2003 as the link with the military ended.


Meanwhile the traditional club had continued in Prague, dropping down to the third tier ČFL in 1994-95. Unable to win promotion, the club merged with FC Portál Příbram to become FC Dukla; going on to win promotion at the first attempt as well as reaching the Cup semi-final before going down to Slavia.

The name of Praha disappeared from the club name as they decamped to play at Na Litavce in Příbram, over forty miles from their traditional base. The club changed their name to FC Dukla Příbram, then FK Marila Příbram and in 2008 1.FK Příbram.


Meanwhile, back at Julisce another local team, Dukla Dejvice, had moved in and adopted Dukla’s traditional colours. They entered the Prague Championship in 2001, and then bought the license of second tier club Jakubčovice Fotbal, when they hit financial problems in November 2006, allowing the newly renamed FK Dukla Praha to play in 2. Liga.

In 2010-11 Dukla won the second tier title as the famous name returned to the top flight after an absence of sixteen years. Following their return the club maintained their status with a series of mid table finishes.


FK Dukla Praha will play in the Czech Liga in the 2016-17 season.


My visit

Dukla Praha 0 Vysočina Jihlava 1 (Saturday 12th March 2016) Czech Liga (att: 1,148)


Dukla is simply a magical name in football to those of us of a certain age; whether it was from watching the goals from one of their European ties on Football Focus or On The Ball on a Saturday lunchtime, or through the notoriety of featuring in the Tranmere Rovers supporting punks Half man Half Biscuit and their song “All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague away kit”.

My weekend in Prague simply had to fit in a game at Julisce, and as luck would have it the fixture Gods looked down kindly on me and arranged a 5pm kick off. This gave me the chance of fitting in the first half at Motorlet before I took the 149 bus across town over Strahov hill to Hradčanská.


The sight of a few old boys wearing the distinctive Dukla scarves put my mind at rest as to whether I was in the right place. Before long the 131 bus had terminated and was ready to take us up the hill; stopping just over the road from the turnstiles.

Carl Ellis had warned me about the steep hill and steps to get there. Fortunately I’d cut that out with the ride. He was right. It did look steep! I paid 140 CZK (around £5) admission, with the programme a further 20 CZK.


It was time for tea and the sausages and other goodies on offer didn’t disappoint. I even managed a beer, even though it was becoming extremely chilly. A souvenir shop seemed to be doing decent trade. Someone at Dukla had a business brain as they didn’t seem to be short on large sized away shirts!

Julisce was a really impressive arena, even with the running track surrounding the pitch. Most fans were located in the huge stand built into the banking with its huge roof. It had an area at the back where you could stand and enjoy your food and drink while watching the game. The rest of the arena was surrounded by open terracing. The far side had club offices at the rear in the centre over the players tunnel. A second pitch was located behind the north goal.


The view was simply stunning over the city. It was a clear evening, giving a great sight as the light gave way to dusk and then darkness as the lights flickered for miles around. If I went again I think I’d take some binoculars with me.

The game was not the best. My best entertainment in the first half came when I walked down the steps and had a wander around the rest of the stadium so I could get my photos. It was good exercise if nothing else, especially the return back up to the vantage point.

My phone was running very low on battery. I approached someone in the press area, halfway down and he kindly let me use one of the plug points. He was working for a company compiling all the match stats, having to input data on free kicks, corners and the like. He told me not to miss out on the famous sausages at Žižkov the next morning!


The game looked odds on to end 0-0 as nothing really happened. I hadn’t allowed for a calamitous error.

An innocuous cross went into the Dukla area on the hour mark. Slovakian keeper Lukáš Hroššo came for it but crashed into his defensive colleague Lukás Štetina with the ball squirming backwards off the non-plussed stopper.


It went over the line and into the net before Jihlava’s Josef Bazal could apply the finishing touch. The handful of visiting fans went wild with delight at being gifted such a generous present.

There was absolutely no way back for the toothless Dukla attacking force, especially with Jihlava packing their defence. I headed towards the exit and did a runner as soon as referee Martin Nenadál blew his whistle for full time.


Standing between stops heading either way I decided to jump on whichever one turned up first. The 515 took me a bit longer than I anticipated and I’m sure it would have been a very pretty ride in daylight, but a bit meaningless in the dark.

The handy thing was on reaching Bořislavka, I caught the number 26 tram all the way back to my hotel and I got a seat on what was a nice journey through the city centre. After warming up, having a rest and a shower I was out for more fine beers at Hostinec U Vodoucha and a couple of nightcaps in the twenty four hour bar opposite my digs. Just how many of the patrons would I see the next day down the hill at Viktoria!






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