Monday, 16 November 2009

Ďolíček Stadium, Vršovice

In 1905 a local football team was formed, AFK (Atletický Fotbalový Klub) Vršovice. Their fortunes were those of any moderately-sized suburban outfit until the season 1926-7, when history unexpectedly played them a trump card.

In that year the Czechoslovakian national team received an invitation to go on tour to Australia - a huge undertaking in the days of ocean-going steamers. So when the Czechs declined the opportunity, it was left to plucky little AFK Vršovice to take their place, under a name which appropriately reflected their new-found 'national' status: the Bohemians.

The sixteen young men set off from Prague to Naples in April 1927 and arrived by boat in Perth in early May. Of the 19 matches played - three of them against the Australian national side - the Bohemians won 13, many by a considerable margin, and lost only three. In recognition of their courage and skill, at their final match in Brisbane the Premier of Queensland presented the Vršovice lads with a pair of kangaroos - 'a gift to the Czechoslovakian President and people'. The animals were subsequently donated by the footballers to Prague Zoo, where, as you can imagine, they became an instant hit.

But the real star attraction was the team itself, which retained not only the name 'Bohemians', but also a symbolic kangaroo - in the form of the badge which the players still proudly wear.

The Bohemians' stadium, whose name means 'The Dimple' (Ďolíček) is a wonderfully old-fashioned and somewhat run-down affair, but the fans who go there week after week to support the 'Kangaroos' testify to its great atmosphere, and would be heartbroken if, as a result of promotion or the need to sell the land, the team had to lose their historic home.

Read this fascinating article from the Prague Post


Hilda said...

When I saw the thumbnail in the portal, I wondered what a kangaroo was doing in Prague! Cool story! I hope the 'Bohemian kangaroos' never lose their historic home!

Jilly said...

A surprise to see a kangaroo on your blog and good to read such a fascinating explanation. I hope the team doesn't lose its home.

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