Many reading the above title will think “Bohemians 1905…who?!” And rightly so, tbh. I myself had never heard of this team until I took a trip to Prague a few years ago.
Whilst there, I stumbled upon their glorious little home, known as the Ďolíček Stadium. With a capacity of just 6,300 in a rather quiet district of the Czech capital, the ground is tucked away from the touristy area of the city but easily reachable by tram from the city centre. What I didn’t realise however, was just how boisterous the whole area could become once I returned for a league game one Saturday evening against Sparta Prague – enter fierce rivalry!
What I love most about European football is how passionate the fans are, and attending this game proved exactly that. The energetic and intense atmosphere was evident from even before kick-off from both Sparta and Bohemians fans, with quite a heavy police presence on show around the Ďolíček Stadium too!
Fans of both sides gathered in their droves with the green and white colours of the home side creating a flamboyant sea over an otherwise gloomy, tranquil area of the city. A ticket for the game cost a mere 150 Czech Koruna, which converts roughly to five pounds, for an uncovered seat behind the goal. The seats here are plentiful, very close together and are home to the Bohemians ultras! Beware the combination of very cheap beer and a massive local derby! For that can only end one way, really …
The game was halted within the first ten minutes after some fans threw flares onto the pitch at the opposite end of the ground. From where I was sitting, flares were also on show – with green and white smoke being plummeted into the humid air around the Ďolíček Stadium.
The fans never ceased to chant, wave their flags, and passionately cheer on their team (some even using megaphones!), creating the most electrical and magical atmosphere for such a small ground. Lukáš Juliš opened the scoring for the away side with a follow-up from Bořek Dočkal before half time. Both homegrown players were the only two to score on the evening and the game finished with an important 2-0 away win for fierce rivals Sparta.
Sparta Prague are quite a well known outfit, being the most successful team in the Czech Republic and having quite a few Champions League appearances under their belt too. Bohemians however, are not as familiar but play some pretty decent football. Being a solid mid-table outfit, they are more well known in Prague for their epic fans rather than their talent, with just one First Division win in their history (1982-1983). There are also very few household names within the historic squads, with the majority of players and managers being from home soil.
Although their most successful run of form came in the 1980s – the club remain to be a very popular side within the country, mostly due to their rather unique and quirky background. For example, the club’s mascot is a kangaroo, derived from when they visited Australia for a tour in 1927, with the Aussies then gifting them two live kangaroos (no, they didn’t put them on show in the stadium, they gave them to the local zoo!). The stadium itself, although quite small, comes alive once the fans enter. Between the colourful flares, passionate ultras and exciting football (especially when it’s a local derby!), it really is a worthwhile place to visit. And Bohemians are not a bad side to keep an eye on either!