- Founded – 1905
- Honours – Czechoslovakian League – 1983; Czech Football Cup (Ondrášovka CUP) – 1982
- Pronunciation – ’em’ as in ‘them’
- Stadium – Ďolíček, 8,500
- City – Prague (pop. 1,200,000)
- Nickname – Klokaní (Kangaroos)
Czech football’s very own socceroos, Bohemians of Prague are one of the nation’s favourite football clubs, boasting vociferous support up and down the land. The club gleaned its name and logo on a 1927 tour of Australia, calling themselves Bohemians as representatives of the Czech region, and receiving a kangaroo from their hosts as a gift. Bohemians have some pedigree, winning their only league title in 1982/83 and enjoying intermittent forays in European competition during the 70s and 80s.
Such is their popularity that Bohemians 1905 compete with Sparta and Slavia Prague for column inches, of which there have been many in recent times. Bankruptcy in 2005 sent the club down to the third division and it took a prompt whip-round from the club’s passionate supporters to prevent outright extinction.
Amidst the chaos of 2005, Bohemians sold their prestigious identity and name to a small, local side called FC Střížkov Praha 9, who rebranded themselves as FK Bohemians Praha. The original, fan-led Bohemians reformed under Bohemians 1905. Both teams now lay claim to the Bohemians title, leading to much litigation, bad blood, and confusing league tables. Late last season, in the run-up to a juicy encounter between the two, Bohemians Praha (Střížkov) were deducted 20 points and fined because they refused to play against Bohemians 1905. (Bohemians Praha Střížkov were then relegated and refused a license to play in the second division because they did not pay their fine, so now find themselves in the third tier ČFL).
Understand? No? Try to imagine Rochdale buying the image rights from a bankrupt Manchester United, only for Manchester United to survive, and for both to then climb to the Premier League for a Man U vs Man U showdown. Personally, I would love to see that happen but can empathise with the many Man U supporters who might have a something to say about it.
In the meantime, Bohemians 1905, the club considered the true successor to the original, are sitting pretty in the Gambrinus League. A return to the top flight was not straightforward however, with the club buying their place in the second division from Xaverov in 2006/7, after that club withdrew from the league. The Klokani (Kangaroos) then clawed a place back in the Gambrinus League, were relegated again, but now play once again in the top flight for the 2010/11 season.
Hold your breath for a few more paragraphs, because we’re not quite there yet. Traditionally, Bohemians 1905 fill their beautiful Ďolíček stadium in Prague’s Vršovice district, but technical stadium issues have meant that they currently play at Slavia Prague’s stadium, which is conveniently located a few hundred yards down the road. Nonetheless, the fans are none too pleased at the idea of sharing a great rival’s stadium, despite its proximity, and 2010/11 saw a large boycott of Bohemians home games in protest.
I could tell you about a third ‘FC Bohemians Praha’ that play in the Prague regional leagues but I feel that might be unfair. If you’ve scoured the Czech leagues in previous seasons and guffawed at the typos and plethora of Bohemians’ populating the tables, I hope this goes some way to explaining the background. Within the Czech football fraternity, only on team can lay claim to the illustrious history, the green and white stripes, and to the revered kangaroo badge, and that is Bohemians 1905 of the Gambrinus League.