LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

FK Teplice

The Glassblowers lose their sheen after two cup wins

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Prominent for a decade from claiming a runners-up spot in the Czech League in 1999 to winning a second Czech Cup in 2009, FK Teplice have been off the boil since.

The Glassblowers, whose Na Stínadlech stadium is officially named after its sponsors, Belgian-Japanese glass firm AGC, have at least maintained a permanent presence in the top tier since 1996, bettering the record of their many previous iterations since the club was formed in 1945.

Before the war, Teplice was known as Teplitz, either as part of the Habsburg Empire, German-speaking Czechoslovakia or Nazi Germany. Its main team, Teplitzer FK, built the Stadion u Drožd’arny that Teplice inherited after the city became part of Czechoslovakia once more, its German residents expelled.

The new club, initially called SK Teplice-Šanov, began life in the third tier, joined the Czechoslovak First League in 1948 and continued to represent Teplice at the highest level despite frequent name changes at the whim of the Communist authorities.

AGC Aréna Na Stínadlech /Michal Kvasnica

After a spell in the Second, Slovan Teplice returned to the top table in 1964, becoming Sklo Union Teplice in 1966, the name a reference to the local glass industry still prominent today.

With goals from Czechoslovak international Pavel Stratil, Sklo Union Teplice climbed the table, and in 1971, finished above Sparta Prague and recent European winners Slovan Bratislava to claim a spot in the inaugural UEFA Cup.

Participation proved short and sweet, involving a quick nip over the Polish border to play Zagłębie Wałbrzych, who won the tie despite a strike from Stratil in the second leg at the Stadion u Drožd’arny. It would be nearly three decades before Teplice returned to Europe.

The club remained a constant presence in the First League, its importance and attachment to the local glass industry convincing the powers that be that a new stadium was needed to replace the Stadion u Drožd’arny, now more than 60 years old.

FK Teplice club offices/Michal Kvasnica

The authorities duly did Teplice proud by building the impressive, modern Na Stínadlech, of 18,000 capacity, which stood head and shoulders above many of its counterparts in the 1973-74 season when it was first used. Slavia Prague, remember, still had a wooden main stand at the time.

It was also the perfect stage for Teplice’s latest goalgetter, Přemysl Bičovský, to shine. The only Teplice player in Czechoslovakia’s Euro-winning squad of 1976, by which time he had acquired 29 caps, Bičovský moved to Bohemians to join penalty hero Antonín Panenka immediately after the tournament.

Relegated in 1979, Teplice struggled until finances were more stable as state-backed industry gave way to foreign investment, the arrival of Glavunion (later AGC Glass) – and striker Pavel Verbíř. Unable to break through as a teenager at Sparta Prague, ‘Verba’ was Teplice’s top scorer when they at last won promotion in 1996.

Capped for a Czech team that had reached the final of Euro ’96, Verbíř had his best season when Teplice finished second behind champions Sparta in 1999.

FK Teplice tickets/Michal Kvasnica

Claiming a Champions League place over Slavia on goal difference, Teplice welcomed Borussia Dortmund, Andreas Möller, Stefan Reuter, Jens Lehmann and all, to Na Stínadlech, and a near 17,000 crowd. Captained by Verbíř, the Glassblowers fell to a single strike from Christian Nerlinger. The game in Dortmund was just as close, and also settled by a solitary goal.

This was probably peak Teplice, swatting aside Ferencváros in the subsequent UEFA Cup qualifying rounds, and falling to recent European finalists Mallorca, narrowly at Na Stínadlech despite a Verbíř goal.

Teplice claimed their first domestic silverware, the Czech Cup, in 2003, followed by another in 2009, though the real battle was the semi-final win over Sparta on penalties at Na Stínadlech, Verbíř converting his, as did a veteran Patrik Berger for the visitors.

AGC Aréna Na Stínadlech /Michal Kvasnica

A return to the UEFA Cup allowed Teplice to cause a few surprises, overcoming Miroslav Klose’s Kaiserslautern and Dirk Kuyt’s Feyenoord, before a late Henrik Larsson goal in Glasgow put the tie to bed against Celtic in the next round.  

Teplice missed out on Europe by one league place in 2012. By now, teams such as Viktoria Plzeň, FK Jablonec and Mladá Boleslav were the main provincial challengers to the Prague giants, and Teplice faded to mid-table also-rans, with no European participation since 2010.

The club remains at No.8 in the all-time league table since Czech independence, combative Bosnian midfielder Admir Ljevaković the foreign player who has made the most appearances in a stint that stretched from 2007 to 2022. His move into coaching while staying at Na Stínadlech may yet auger well for the future.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

Though it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023, Na Stínadlech remains one of the most impressive grounds in the Czech League outside Prague, and the largest by capacity after Sparta and Slavia. Officially known as the AGC Aréna Na Stínadlech after the multinational glass company based in Teplice, the stadium was built as a showcase in what was a major manufacturing centre in former Czechoslovakia.

Even though tenants FK Teplice had little domestic or European pedigree – the club had only just played (and lost) an early round of the inaugural UEFA Cup – it was decided on a ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ basis that the city should get the first all-seater stadium in the country.

With a construction budget of Kč40 million – when the average salary was around Kč1,500 a month – the stadium was built in record time in order for it to be opened on Liberation Day, May 9 marking when Soviet troops entered Prague in 1945. It was even called Stadion 9. května with reference to the calendar.

Teplice’s opponents that day were Slavia Sofia and the event was attended by then FIFA president Sir Stanley Rous, a year before he was voted out of the role. The game took place in the afternoon as floodlights hadn’t yet been installed – Dukla Prague would be the visitors for the first floodlit game that October.

Attendances, which had dwindled to the hundreds in the 1980s at Teplice trod water in the second tier, picked up when games were rescheduled to Sunday mornings, coinciding with a popular market also held nearby.

Some 20 years after its opening, Na Stínadlech was renovated for the first time thanks to glass concern Glavunion taking over the club. Individual seating replaced the communal wooden benches and a roof was added to the East Stand, Východní tribuna, opposite the main West Stand, Západní tribuna, which had been covered since Day One. 

The stand behind the south goal, Jižní tribuna, was also given a roof and, along with the addition of a scoreboard behind the north goal, Severní tribuna, Na Stínadlech was granted the status of national stadium, for games outside Prague, at least.

While the key home clashes for any qualifying campaign took place at Sparta or Slavia, Teplice was where the likes of Malta, Estonia and the Faroes were put to the sword. The first ten internationals here were all home wins, Sweden coming away with a draw in friendly in 2002, and Wales almost holding on for the same in 2006.

The stadium also staged prestigious European games, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic and Feyenoord the visitors as FK Teplice lifted more domestic silverware and finished high up the league table. The Czech Republic’s last game to date here took place in 2012, defeat to Finland in a meaningless friendly.

Given Teplice’s current slump, Na Stínadlech is way too big for requirements, although it’s certainly a pleasant (and dry, except for the 966 open, if generally unused, seats in the North Stand) place to watch a football match.

Away supporters are allocated sectors 38 and 39, marked H (Hosté), by the open north end of the East Stand, Východní tribuna. If Sparta or Slavia are coming to town, this may extend to section 36, too. The club shop is behind the main West Stand, Hlavní Západní tribuna. Capacity is 18,221.

getting here

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

The stadium is walkable from the city centre, though it’s a fair trek from the east side of town, Pražská, where inter-city buses sometimes drop off. Na Stínadlech has its own stop on the 110 bus route that runs from Panorama via the train station, past the main square of Benešovo náměstí

Many buses also stop at nearby Alejní, just the other side of the main road from this area of sport and recreation. A taxi from the city centre (or train station) would be a few euros.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Availability is never a problem at Teplice, so there’s probably little need to take advantage of the Czech-language advance sales on the club website or through betting outlets of the Sazky network. If you need it, there’s a Tipsport (daily 9am-2pm, 2.30pm-9pm) on the main square of Náměstí Svobody.

The ticket office by Gate B behind the Main Stand at the stadium opens from 2hrs before kick-off. Games are divided into Category I (Sparta, Slavia, Plzeň, Baník Ostrava) and Category II. You pay Kč250/Kč150 (€10/€6) in advance, Kč300/Kč200 (€12/€8) on the day.

Children up to 150cm tall can be admitted free but you must email the club (info@fkteplice.cz) to book a ticket that you then pick up on the day.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Yellow-and-blue merchandise fills the Fanshop FK Teplice (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-1pm, match days) behind the main stand, including the current iteration of the home shirt, mainly yellow with the old-school drawstring round collar, and the change strip of black.

Bobble hats come in various colours, all with the FTK logo, and you can re-enact Czech football in the 1970s with your trusty trubka, a horn, done out in yellow and blue, of course.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

With the closure of the nearby Pijavice pub, pretty grim at the best of times, the nearest spots are on Duchcovská, about a 7-8min walk from the ground.

The Restaurace U Soudu (No.584/7) has Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell on draught, serves plates of hearty Czech fare and shows sport, in a no-frills wood-panelled interior. 

Close by, on the corner with Letecká, the Restaurace Mariánský dvůr feels a little more cosy, with tables outside for smokers, its only real drawback being it usually closes at weekends.