Stories and pictures of the beautiful game.
FK Dukla Praha vs. Slovan Liberec 3:0 (1:0)
November 23, 2012 | attendance: 1,641 | pictures
Dukla Praha was founded as an army club in 1948. It took a while to get settled, its name changed over the first couple of years. Today’s name Dukla was assigned in 1956 with reference to the Dukla Pass where Czechoslovakian soldiers started to liberate their country in 1944.
The team started dominating the league in the late 1950s and in the first half of the 1960, won several titles and had a couple of good international stints. Czechoslovakian World Cup squads usually had a large Dukla contingent at the time. Between the late 1960s and the mid 1980s the constant flow of trophies slowed to a trickle: Duklas won its 11th and last championship in 1982, its 8th and last cup in 1990.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, Dukla shared the fate of the empire and a plethora of other government-sponsored clubs in the former communist hemisphere: the ministry of defense could not afford to pay for the club anymore and Dukla’s decline began. After relegations and loss of license, the club played in third league in the mid 1990s. When the ambitious plans of a windy entrepreneur failed, the first team even had to be merged with FK Pribram (an hour southwest of Prague).
Dukla kept operating its youth teams under its own name and eventually added a new men’s team in 2001. The squad only played in leagues 4-6 until Dukla acquired a license for second league from another team. In 2010/11 the club managed promotion and was finally back in the first league where they show impressive football so far: they finished sixth last season and currently rank seventh in the league.
Despite its past successes, Dukla was never able to attract much of an attendance. Clubs like Slavia, Bohemians and their army buddies Sparta had already divided up the market in Prague, and it certainly did not help that the authorities forced transfers to Dukla. During its successful days, only 6,000 people came on average to watch matches, with a peak of almost 10,000 during the 1963/64 championship campaign. Since returning to the first league, the average attendance is just a little over 2.000 in the huge Juliska stadium that was built just for Dukla in 1960 and seats 28,000.
The ground is situated on top of a hill, and from the top of the steep main stand you get a terrific view of the Vltava, the botanical gardens, and can spot Old Town and the Prague castle. But be aware: by passing through the turnstiles you officially enter military territory – the army still owns the stadium. Tonight, as mid-table team Sloval Liberec (before the game, both teams had the same number of points) pay a visit, you have no trouble finding a seat. The total attendance is 1,641, among them 84 fenced-off guest fans. Their songs and the drumbeat of the small active Dukla fan-group echo through the large empty main stand that looms ghostly above the pitch.
It is dark outside, so there is no scenic view today but the action on display under the mighty floodlights does not require any additional distraction. It becomes obvious, why Dukla are in such a good position in the league: the team plays a fast-paced football, never stops attacking and fights for every ball. Half an hour into the game, their dominance turns into a goal, and while you have to give credit to Slovan for not giving up, you can tell they wouldn’t have a chance tonight. In the final fifteen minutes of the match, Slovan’s goalie has to fish the ball out of his net twice more, in the end Duklas 3:0 is well deserved.
Refreshing attack football, a perfect scenic view from a steep main stand and a bit of a retro touch – FK Dukla Praha certainly is worth a visit!
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