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


September 2015

Sunday, February 5, 2017

FK Viktoria Žižkov (Czech Republic)

FK Viktoria Žižkov is a professional football club from Žižkov, a district in the Czech capital of Prague since 1928, who were formed in 1903.

The club played its game at Nad Ohradou, enjoying their most successful spell as the lifted the Czechoslovak Cup in 1913, 1914 and 1916. Following World War I, further trophies were lifted in 1921, 1929, 1933, and 1940; but the greatest triumph came in 1928 as Viktoria were crowned as league champions.

Viktoria looked to build a new ground on Žižkov Hill, but settled for a new arena at Na Třebešíně in Strašnice. Following their league triumph they built their own new Stadion Viktoria on Na Seifertova, close to the city’s central railway station, as their previous home became a cycling velodrome.

Viktoria were hit with a terrible blow as their skipper Karla Steinera, died suddenly in the early 30’s and then the team were relegated. Despite regaining their top flight spot Žižkov, went back down in 1941.

After the Second World War, communist rule took over in Czechoslovakia. This did Viktoria no favours as an independent football club, as the laws of the government stated that players must represent any teams of their employers. This particularly suited Dukla, the team of the army and Sparta, the team of the police.

It also led to the historic Viktoria name disappearing from the club title, as they became Sokol Viktoria Žižkov in 1950, Sokol ČSAD Žižkov a year later and then TJ Slavoj Žižkov following a merger with Avia Čakovice. In 1965 the old name was revived.

In 1973 the club became TJ Viktoria Žižkov Strojimport, then TJ Viktoria Žižkov PSO in 1982 before FK Viktoria Žižkov once again a decade later.

The dissolution of Czechoslovakia was good news for Viktoria fans as well as the country as a whole as they at last claimed their top flight place once again thanks to the patronage of Vratislav Čekan, having slipped all the way down to the fourth tiered Divize in previous spells.

In their first season back in the top tier Žižkov went on to lift the Pohár FAČR (Czech Cup) as they defeated Sparta Praha on a penalty shoot out after the game ended 2-2 after extra time at Stadion Evžena Rošického under the stewardship of Jiří Kotrba.

In the following season’s UEFA Cup, Viktoria knocked out IFK Norrköping, with the aid of a Karel Poborský goal before going out to Chelsea 4-2 on aggregate despite a couple of goals from Jozef Majoroš as Luděk Vinš bought the club.

In the league Žižkov consolidated their place in mid table before Viktoria returned to Strahov Hill to lift the Pohár once again in 2001, as an extra time goal from Aleš Pikl helped his team to a 2-1 victory in extra time against Sparta.

This led to another UEFA Cup campaign, but FC Tirol Innsbruck eliminated them in the first round. However, Zdeněk Ščasný’s side finished in third place in the league. The following seasons UEFA Cup efforts saw wins against SP Domagnano and Rangers before Real Betis ended the run in the second round with Vítězslav Lavička in charge of the team.

Viktoria ended the 2002-03 season once again in third place. In the qualifying round of the following seasons UEFA Cup Zhenis Astana were dispatched, before Brøndby IF ended any further hopes of European glory.

The team were relegated to 2. Liga at the end of the 2003-04 campaign amid a corruption scandal which rocked Czech football and leading to manager Ivan Horník being interrogated by the police. It would take until 2006-07 for Viktoria to return to the top division as they were crowned as champions of the second tier. In 2008-09 the team were relegated once again, after finishing bottom of the table.

In 2010-11 Žižkov reclaimed their Czech First League place as runners-up to Dukla Praha under head coach Martin Pulpit with fine goalkeeping from Tomáš Vaclík and the goals of Miroslav Marković. Pulpit was sacked the following November to be replaced by Roman Nádvorník, but he couldn’t save the side from yet another demotion as Vaclík was sold to Sparta as the financial situation at the club became serious.

The team regrouped and finished in a promising fourth place in 2014-15, but the club were rocked with the news that they were not to be granted a professional license for the following season because of financial irregularities. They were placed in the third tier ČFL for 2015-16.

Jiří Rýva bought Viktoria as Zdeněk Hašek’s side finished in third place in the ČFL, winning promotion back to the 2. Liga FNL. Hašek was surprisingly dismissed in December 2016 to be replaced by David Vavruška.

My visit

FK Viktoria Žižkov 6 Baník Most 0 (Sunday 13th March 2016) Czech Republic 3. Liga ČFL (att: 716)

Going to Viktoria was probably the highlight of my long weekend in Prague. I had heard plenty of good things about the club and inner city stadium and I had certainly been taken by Žižkov.

On my first evening out, the previous Thursday I’d immediately fallen for the bars and their laid back attitude to life. In the excellent bohemian Hospudka Nad Viktorkou just around the corner from the stadium on Borivojova, I’d got chatting to three younger locals who gave me some cracking local pub tips and good vibes about the local team. They told me they’d be at the game and the fans sang about the must try local sausages!

After a couple of days of football, sightseeing and thoroughly enjoying the local bars I awoke full of enthusiasm on Sunday morning in readiness for a 10.15am kick off. Although I’d been to a start at the same time at Aritma the previous day, this one was virtually on my doorstep and in a proper stadium.

Feeling rather lazy and with a travel pass for the day I jumped on the tram a couple of stops down the hill on Seifertova to alight at Husinecká. I paid 50 CZK admission (around £1.45!) and then another 10 CZK for a programme before treating myself to a Viktoria beanie hat. Looking around it was evident that a few fans had partaken in a “big” Saturday night, and indeed Sunday morning!

It was then to have a proper look at Stadion Viktoria. The nearest stand at the Žižkov was open and semi permanent on scaffolding. Down the far side was a steep sided open bank of seating which backed onto the tall buildings of Vlkova. The far end was a smaller open seated bank, which the fourth side was made up of a slightly raised covered Main Stand with an open paddock in front of a few steps. In the corner near the entrances was a modern block serving hospitality and club offices. It was not dissimilar to PAT Stadium, the home of Port FC in Bangkok.

Of course there was a fine selection of sausages on sale from two different concessions behind the home end stand. I had one to start with and then popped down just after kick off for another and a beer to wash it down. Well it was getting near 10.30am!

Žižkov tore into their opponents from the start, even though it took until the twelfth minute before Michal Pavlata slotted home a neat cut back. It was 2-0 eight minutes later thanks to Miroslav Podrazký. I had visions of a cricket score when Tomas Docekal fired home with twenty minutes of the first half remaining.

However, the visitors who I also saw referred to as Mostecký FK, stabilised and put an occasional move together of their own. They were backed by a doughty band of thirty or so fans behind the far goal. At half time a home official took a box of sausages for them to buy. They seemed to be rather gratefully received!

I took up a seat in the covered seats in the second half. I’d had my own fair portion the night before and the cold morning was taking its effects. The Most side were doing their best but I felt that it was only going to be a matter of time before Viktoria would find a way through.

It would take an excellent goal from Docekal with just over fifteen minutes to go to make it 4-0 as he went on a long run, exchanging passes before scoring. A Jan Svatonský made it five on seventy seven, before Podrazký completed his brace with ten minutes to go.

Some lads from the north east of England were sat a few rows down from me. I asked them if they knew of any sports bars in Žižkov to watch that afternoon’s FA Cup action from back home. They had found a couple of Irish bars in town, but we had a good laugh at their lament of being charged £2 a pint in there! I loved Prague!

At full time the Viktoria players took their time going to thank the fans behind the goal and then those in the paddock, shaking hands and pausing for selfies. This really was a community based club.

I have to admit to feeling some real affinity towards Viktoria Žižkov as I trudged down the slope and out of the gates. I wandered into town through the central station to look for some lunch before I set off on my afternoon’s adventures.

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