- Founded – 1893
- Honours – Mitropa Cup – 1927, 1935, 1964; Czechoslovakia League: 1912, 1919, 1922, 1925-26, 1926-27, 1931-32, 1935-36, 1937-38, 1938-39, 1943-44, 1945-46, 1947-48, 1952, 1954, 1964-65, 1966-67, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91, 1992-93; Gambrinus liga: 1993-94, 1994-95, 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2009-10; Czech Football Cup (Ondrášovka CUP) – 1996, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008; Czech Republic Football Supercup: 2010.
- Stadium Letná – 20,854
- City Prague (pop. 1,200,000)
- Nickname Železná Sparta (Iron Sparta)
One of the purposes of this here blog is to introduce Czech football and its clubs with the tricky looking names to English-speaking snoops. Sparta Praha needs no such platform. Boasting the country’s largest trophy cabinet, and the most fans, Sparta is Top Dog in Czech football.
I’ll get my editorial prejudice out in the open right now and declare I don’t have a lot of love for Sparta, but to its credit the club has shaped Czech football since its inception, been its most successful representative in Europe, and historically provided the core of the national team. Even today, most elite Czech footballers, including Čech, Rosický and Nedvěd, germinated at Sparta before moving on to international stardom.
Founded in 1892 as an athletic club by a group of young brothers (genetic brothers not African-Slavic brothers), Sparta draws much of its traditional support from the working classes. Sartorially, Sparta has one of the tidiest colourways in the league, turning out in a rather fetching burgundy number, which was inspired by the original Arsenal kit of yesteryear. Iron Sparta originally played in black with a big “S” on their shirts, which is equally strong.
Sparta is one of the few clubs that regularly achieves five-figure attendances, and boosts the crowds of opponents when on the road due to its huge following across the nation. They play at attractive but aging stadium Letná, situated in a park of the same name in an affluent neighbourhood, overlooking the centre of Prague.
Sparta detractors portray the club as supercilious and arrogant and my experience of Spartans at home matches at Letná corresponds directly with this reputation. Many Sparta fans suffer from an ugly superiority complex, and organised supporters groups have in the past exhibited bouts of intense brooding and belligerence when things aren’t going the club’s way.
Lean spells at Sparta have been few and far between, however. Since 1993 the club has eclipsed the competition in the Gambrinus Liga accumulating eleven of the seventeen titles on offer. Iron Sparta’s grip looked to be slipping when fierce rivals Slavia bagged the title in both 2008 and 2009, however Slavia’s implosion last season paved the way for Sparta to reassert its power at the top of the domestic game.