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 their maintenance.

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 fortunate 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 heightens 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 try today. They'll be delighted 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. Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby as he grows into a young man!

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


November 2018

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bohemians 1905 (Czech Republic)

Bohemians 1905 is a football club based in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, who were formed as AFK Vršovice in 1905. After playing in regional football, the club progressed to the top flight Czechoslovak First League in 1925.

In 1927 the club toured Australia as their title changed to Bohemians AFK Vršovice. The tour was by boat and stopped off in Colombo, now Sri Lanka, where they defeated a British Army XI 4-2.

When in Australia, the local media generally referred to Bohemians as 'the Czechoslovakian team'. The touring party was presented with two wallabies as a gift from the Queensland Government; which ever since featured on the club's crest, although it is often interpreted as a kangaroo. On the club’s return they donated both to Prague Zoo.

Full details of the tour, which saw three 'Test matches' against Australia's national team and two matches against an Australian XI, along with regional tour matches vs State and regional representative teams is available here.

The 27th March 1932 saw the first game at Bohemians Ďolíčku home stadium, which was designed by architect Vrsovicky Vejvoda. It was originally named Dannerák and provided refuge to locals during the invasion of Prague in 1945.

For many years the club spent most of its time at the second level of Czech football with a few intermittent campaigns in the Czechoslovak First League (1. fotbalová liga, Slovak). Between 1941 and 1945 the club was called Bohemia AFK Vršovice before returning to their previous title.

The next five years saw several name changes following World War II and the implementation of Russian communist control; 1948: Sokol Vršovice Bohemians, 1949: Sokol Železničaři Bohemians Praha, 1950: Sokol Železničaři Praha, 1951: Sokol ČKD Stalingrad Praha and in 1953: Spartak Praha Stalingrad.

In 1962 the club was retitled ČKD Praha, before changing to the more traditional Bohemians ČKD Praha in 1965.

In 1966-67 ‘Bohemce’ came within a whisker of winning the Czech title, but they lost their final game to Sparta, with former club hero Láďa Kos starring for the local rivals as they lifted the crown. Although Slavia are based far closer to Bohemians, the rivalry was more intense during this period with Sparta, as they were the club of the government during communist rule.

Following this disappointment, a youngster who would go on to be Bohemians greatest player entered the fray. Attacking midfielder Antonin Panenka went on to serve the club for fourteen years, starring in Czechoslovakia’s historic win on penalties against West Germany in the 1976 European Championship final, when Panenka dinked the winning penalty over keeper Sepp Maier with a kick which was copied many times after by players worldwide.

In 1973 the club were promoted to the Czechoslovak First League as a series of decent finishing positions led to the most successful time in the club’s history.

In 1982 Bohemians reached the final of the Československý pohár (Czech Cup), but they were defeated 4-1 to Slovan Bratislava. However, the first major honour to arrive at Ďolíčku was to arrive the very next season as Bohemians were crowned as league champions.

It rounded off a tremendous 1982-83 season as in their fifth UEFA Cup campaign, Bohemians went on a tremendous run as they defeated Admira-Wacker, Saint-Étienne, Servette and Dundee United before bowing out 4-1 on aggregate in the semi-final against RSC Anderlecht.

A second title was nearly secured in 1985, but ‘Klokani’ were denied by Sparta on goal difference.

A European Cup campaign and two further UEFA Cup runs followed without too much success, although wins over notable scalps Fenerbahçe and Ajax were achieved. In 1993 the club changed title to Bohemians Praha following Czech independence before the run at the top table of Czech football came to an end in 1995.

The nearly led to the collapse of the club, as at the same time as the name change the club had decided to break away from the TJ Bohemians Praha sports franchise. By 1995 they were in serious financial trouble. In 2001 they changed their name to Bohemians Praha.

TJ retained the rites to the club crest and decided to sell it along with club colours in 2005 as Bohemians were still struggling as fans rallied to try and pay off the debts. The crest was bought by FC Střížkov Praha 9, who saw the troubles at Ďolíčku where Bohemians had their record expunged half way through their 2. Liga campaign and were relegated to the third tier ČFL.

FC Střížkov Praha 9 changed their name to FK Bohemians Prague in a clear attempt to try and tempt fans away from the original Bohemians to watch their side who shared the FK Viktoria Stadion with money troubled FK Viktoria Žižkov along with Stadion Evžena Rošického while money was thrown behind the project as the team were soon promoted through the divisions to the Czech First League.

Fans and officials at Ďolíčku were naturally livid. It helped to galvanise the club as they took FK Bohemians Prague to court in an attempt to stop Střížkov from using the Bohemans title while changing their title to Bohemians 1905 to distance themselves from their new rivals.

The loyal green and white fans of the Vršovice district saw their team finish in third place in the ČFL in 2005-06 and miss out on automatic promotion. However the club that won the league; SC Xaverov Horní Počernice, paid the price of success as they hit severe financial troubles of their own. Bohemians 1905 bought their professional license to take their place in 2. Liga while Xaverov dropped down to Prague league football.

The momentum continued as Bohemians finished as runners-up in their first season back to win promotion to the 1. Liga. However they remained in the top flight for just one season before going straight back down. Not for the first time, the club immediately regrouped and won promotion at the first attempt.

May 8th 2010 saw Bohemians say goodbye to the Dimple, as Ďolíčku was nicknamed with a league game against SK Kladno. Financial problems led to the club owners; xxxx, deciding to become tenants at the Synot Tip Arena, as near neighbour’s Slavia’s Eden home was called at the time on a five year deal.

The move was brought to an end when Bohemians were relegated at the end of the 2011-12 season as they moved back to Ďolíčku. In September 2012 a Czech court ruled that the the former Střížkov club must not continue to use the name Bohemians after 31 January 2013.

To make Bohemians fans even happier, the team finished the 2012-13 season as runners-up in 2. Liga and won a return to the top flight, while the former Střížkov club were relegated down to the ČFL, while they challenged the court’s decision, before dropping even further down to the Prague Championship in 2015.

In April 2016 Bohemians 2016 were given a huge boost when the Prague council bought Ďolíčku, with the club remaining in situ and paying rent. In the summer of 2016 Karel Kapr the owner of Střížkov lost the court appeal and shut down the adult men’s team leaving the original Bohemians the only club in town with that title.

Bohemians 1905 will play in the Czech Liga in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Friday 11th March 2016

My first full day of a long weekend in Prague was going superbly, with visits to FK Admira Praha, SK Meteor Praha and AC Sparta Praha all successfully accessed for photos. Following a really enjoyable walk around the stunning city centre and a fine goulash soup for lunch I decided to head to Vršovice to visit Bohemians and call in at Eden to buy a match ticket for that evening’s Slavia match.

I’d been given a tip about a pub by my ale aficionado pal Ken Stockhill who was texting me from Scarborough. However, the place was deserted so I took a metro one stop from I.P. Pavlova to Vyšehrad from where I saw it was a simple tram ride to Ďolíčku; well in theory anyway!

I set off up the main 5. Května road, completely in the wrong direction. I walked back to Vyšehrad and realised I needed to walk down the steep neat gardens down a hundred feet or so to Jaromírova. The number 7 tram took me as far as Náměstí Bratří Synků before I decided to cut under the railway and walk the last half mile along Vršovická to the stadium.

To my absolute delight a corner gate was open where the groundsmen were working on the pitch. Using my best sign language they smiled and nodded that it was OK to enter and take some photos of a real gem of a traditional venue.

The Main Stand was a huge single tier of seating. The far end, where was once terracing was now an open bank of seats, but still home to the club’s most passionate support. The far touchline had around three or four rows of open seating with the Sportovní road directly behind. The near end had no spectator accommodation but was backed with adverts and a scoreboard.

I wandered around taking many photos before heading off on foot towards Eden Arena to buy my ticket for the evening’s entertainment.

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