Formed in what was then the separate suburb of Zizkov, now Prague 3, Viktoria benefitted from a major revival in the 1990s but became so encumbered with debt they were forcibly relegated to the 3.Liga in 2015.
With a history dating back to 1903 and still staunchly working-class, Viktoria Zizkov first enjoyed a brief period of success in the late 1920s. ‘Viktorka’ would have been resigned to the history books but for the intervention of millionaire Vratislav Cekan, the local millionaire who made it his mission to rejuvenate his beloved club.
Cup winners seven times, the then SK Viktoria were the only club to break the Sparta-Slavia stranglehold on the Czechoslovak title before the war, in 1928. A decade earlier, the club’s goalkeeper was Vlasta Burian, a famous Czech comedian and star of stage and screen. A plaque stands in his honour at the stadium today.
Moribund after the war despite impeccable working-class credentials, the later TJ Viktoria were rescued in 1992 when entrepreneur Cekan stepped in to pour money into the club, renamed FK Viktoria.
With players such as Karel Poborsky and Slovak international Jozef Majoros, Viktorka climbed up the league and won the cup in 1994. A creditable performance against Chelsea in the UEFA Cup was bettered in 2002 with an away-goals aggregate win over Rangers in the same tournament.
This was when Zizkov were riding high, with consecutive top-three finishes in the league and another cup win in 2001. But financial problems and a corruption scandal led to relegation, and the red-and-whites just about the survived the upshot of the 2014-15 campaign. Finishing fourth in the FNL, Viktorka were about to take the top-flight berth of ineligible Varnsdorf when the Prague 3 council raised the issue of the club’s missing rent of nearly Kc1 million.
Duly demoted to the 3.Liga, Viktorka were forced to battle against the likes of Benátky nad Jizerou and Loko Vlatvín for a return to the FNL.
The modest 5,000-capacity FK Viktoria Stadion is the closest ground to Prague’s main train station, surrounded by large residential blocks and overlooked by the Zizkov TV Tower in the distance.
Improvements under the ownership of Vratislav Cekan increased seating, although the stadium still features only one main stand, backing onto the main road of Seifertova.
A club shop was added in 2007, complementing a friendly, stand-alone house that contains the club bar, and a string of pubs and restaurants along Seifertova, making Zizkov a pleasant place to watch a game of football not ten minutes from the main train station.
The main stand, Severní (‘North’) Tribuna, is covered, with uncovered seats in the Jizna (‘South’) Tribuna opposite. Away fans are accommodated in the Zapadní (‘West’) sector, at the other end of the ground from the club bar.
Take tram Nos.5, 9 or 26 one stop from the main station, Hlavní nádrazí, to Husinecká. The stadium is right alongside.
The ticket office is by the main gate on Seifertova. Tickets for the covered (‘krytá’) stand are Kc120, with places in the uncovered (‘nekrytá’) sections set at Kc90. A programme is Kc10.
Set by the Burian plaque, the Fan Shop (Mon-Fri 10.30am-5pm and match days) sells full Viktorka kits for Kc1,000, branded clocks for Kc300 and, apt given Zizkov’s red-and-white stripes, club toothbrushes (Kc150).
Seifertova is lined with bars, starting with the Churchill café (No.4) on the stadium side – ‘nice’ is its only possible description, with its fresh juices and frappes – to the more standard Restaurace Poja (No.29) diagonally opposite, with its Jezek beer. On that same side, Sklep is a bar, club (note the Velvets poster) and restaurant in one, while adjacent Pod Viktorkou is a lovely bar and restaurant done out in lovely old beer signs. There’s a back garden too.
Pride of place must go to the club bar behind the home, west, goal, run from 11am daily by a sympathetic local family. A modest menu includes pangusius fish, served either in the front room featuring a league table of scores faithfully felt-tipped in every week, or in the back room where presumably Celtic fans have been responsible for a mounted photo of Bobo Baldé. A portrait of a much-loved rock musician and Zizkov fan, sadly no longer with us, guards the doorway.