LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Teplice

Bohemian spa town with a football history dating to 1903

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

The spa town of Teplice was, until fairly recently, a major football hub in the Czech Republic. Its flagship club, FK Teplice, regularly finished top six in the Czech league, won the Czech Cup twice in the early 2000s and competed in Europe.

Their stadium, Na Stínadlech, was the de facto home ground for the Czech national side, certainly the main venue outside Prague, and even now has staged the second-most internationals post-1993, behind the Letná.

Pretty soon it will be overtaken in this by Slavia’s Eden and, probably, Olomouc, as it’s been 2012 since the Czechs played a full international here, by the I/13 motorway near the border with Germany. The last competitive international was 2008.

While a talismanic ground for the Czechs – they’ve won every single one of their 20 games here, except for a draw with Sweden and, strangely, a home defeat to Finland that day in 2012 – it has since gone the way of Liberec and nearby Jablonec as forgotten destinations on the international football calendar.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

When football first started out here, Teplice was Teplitz, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the majority of its residents German or Austrian. Local German-speaking enthusiasts met at the Hotel Bahnhof in 1903 to form Teplitzer FK, adopting the city’s colours of blue and white for their new club’s. From 1905, Teplitzer FK were playing top teams from Germany and Austria, including 1. FC Nürnberg, VfB Leipzig, First Vienna and Wiener AC, all among the best in Europe at the time.

Such was the club’s progress that it was accepted into the Austrian Football Union (ÖFV) in 1909, only the second club from Bohemia granted this honour. Though mainly attached to Sparta Prague, when he was at Teplitz, forward Jaroslav Špindler not only won a cap for Austria in 1911, he scored the winner against Germany in Dresden, having previously appeared for Bohemia against Hungary in Budapest.

After a restructure in 1911, Teplitzer FK joined the newly created German Football Association for Bohemia (DFVfB), centred on Prague but for German-speaking clubs only. Dominated by DFC Prag, the modest league only lasted until World War I, after which it was subsumed into the newly formed Czech association, ČSAF.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

This was not the Czechoslovak Football Association but an organisation representing the minorities in what was now Czechoslovakia, German, Hungarian, Jewish and Polish. Two leagues were formed, one for the east, dominated by DFC Prag, and one for the west, dominated by Teplitz, now referred to as Teplitzer FK 1903. 

DFC Prag still ruled the roost but in 1922, Teplitzer snuck in to win the joint title. Shortly afterwards, the players boarded the SS Zealandia bound for South America, to play games in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio and São Paulo, including against the Argentine national XI.

After embracing professionalism in 1925, from 1929, when the Czechoslovak First League expanded, Teplitzer FK competed with the top Czech teams in Prague for the first time, among the best there was in Europe.

Sparta and Slavia supplied nearly the entire Czechoslovak squad that came within a whisker of winning the World Cup in 1934. The reserve keeper – reserve to the great František Planička, of course, the team captain – was uncapped 19-year-old Čestmír Patzel, known as Ehrenfried to his parents.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

Though the Teplitzer teenager played no part in the tournament, he would go on to win four caps for Czechoslovakia afterwards. In the league, Teplitzer FK held their own, finishing above Bohemians and Žižkov in 1933-34, qualifying them for the Mitropa Cup, the forerunner of the European Cup. That June, they played (and lost) twice to Juventus home and away.

Home was originally Bremschplatz and then the nearby Stadion an der Eichwalderstraße, the main football ground in the city. Known in Czech as Stadion u Drožd’arny because of its proximity to the yeast factory, it stood between what is today Dubská and Nákladní, north of the centre. The fact it was built as early as 1910, with a main wooden stand, funded by club members and the City, shows the prominent role football enjoyed in Teplitz. 

The great First Vienna played two games for the inauguration – and it was here that Juventus, whose squad included recently crowned 1934 World Cup heroes Gianpiero Combi, Luis Monti and Raimundo Orsi, scored without reply against the hosts in front of a record crowd of 12,000.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

Teplitzer FK were relegated from the Czechoslovak First League in 1936, by which time these German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia were in the political spotlight. From October 1938, the city became part of Nazi Germany – its football team had just played (and won) its last DFVfB title for German-speaking clubs in Czechoslovakia months before the Munich Agreement.

Teplitzer FK disappeared and a new club, NSTG Teplitz-Schönau, replaced them, under immediate Nazi control and participating in the Gauliga Sudetenland.

This was one of the smallest and weakest leagues in the Germany-wide Gauliga system introduced in 1933.

One prominent player who straddled the Teplitzer/NSTG Teplitz-Schönau periods either side of the Munich Agreement was locally born Rudolf Krčil. This right-half played for Teplitzer up to 1933, earned several caps for Czechoslovakia then moved to Slavia Prague in the run-up to the 1934 World Cup, for which appeared in every game, including the final against Italy.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

Returning in 1937, Krčil not only played for NSTG Teplitz-Schönau until the last Gauliga season in 1943-44 but also for a Sudetenland selection. After 1945, the German population was expelled from what was now Teplice, and locals slowly started to remove the destroyed military equipment from the Stadion u Drožd’arny, which was being used as a storage site.

A new club, SK Teplice-Šanov, was formed and began life in the new third division of the re-established Czechoslovak League in 1945-46. The Stadion u Drožd’arny staged its first game as early as September 30. Undergoing several name changes – Sokol Teplice, Technomat Teplice, Vodotechna Teplice, Ingstav Teplice, Tatran Teplice – as the Communist authorities assumed more control in Czechoslovakia, the team rose up the league ladder, welcoming back Rudolf Krčil as coach in 1947.

That season, the wily Krčil led Teplice to the Czechoslovak First League, catching the eye of the FA who put him in charge of the national B team, while Teplice held their own against best teams from Prague and Bratislava. Krčil returned in 1952 to take Teplice to third place, although the club was mysteriously forcibly relegated thereafter, alongside such miscreants as Kovosmalt Trnava and Vítkovické železárny.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

The Stadion u Drožd’arny witnessed several seasons of second-flight football, then a return to the elite in 1964 and Teplice’s European debut in 1971. By then, the ground was in a pretty sorry state, even by Czech standards of the day.

Construction on a new stadium, Na Stínadlech, began in the early 1970s, at a site 750 metres south-west of the previous one. The Stadion u Drožd’arny staged its last game in May 1973, Teplice against Sparta Prague, four days before Na Stínadlech was unveiled with a friendly against Slavia Sofia.

The old stadium wasn’t demolished until the 1990s, and a car park built over it, serving a hypermarket. Over at Na Stínadlech, FK Teplice were enjoying a purple patch from promotion to the newly independent Czech First League in 1996, to taking runners-up spot three years later, briefly competing in the Champions League and twice winning the Czech Cup.

Welcome to Teplice/Michal Kvasnica

During this time, Na Stínadlech had become the de facto national stadium after the Letná in Prague, but slowly the profile of both club and ground faded behind Plzeň and Olomouc, among others. Teplice last finished top five in the Czech League in 2017. 

By now, too, Na Stínadlech is feeling its age, passing its 50th anniversary in 2023 and accommodating average gates of below 4,000.

With the stadium sponsored by Belgian-Japanese glass company AGC, the company club president Pavel Šedlbauer also held the role of vice-president, FK Teplice have enough backing to continue their unbeaten run of nearly 30 years in the top flight – although without pulling up any trees.

Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and tips

Prague Airport is 97km (60 miles) south of Teplice. The Airport Express bus (Kč100/€4, pay the driver, cards accepted, every 30mins, journey time 45mins) runs from outside Terminal 1 directly to Prague’s hlavní nádraží main train station. (From town, the Airport Express also drops off at Terminal 2.)

Alternatively, take bus 119 from either terminal to Nádraží Veleslavín and change onto the metro, taking green line A to Muzeum, then red line C for one stop. A ticket (from the information desk at Arrivals or the machine by the stop) is Kč40/€1.65, journey time also around 40mins.

For a taxi from Prague Airport, use either the Uber app or pre-paid self-service machine – there’s also a help desk. Expect to pay around Kč500-Kč600/€20-€24 into town, depending on traffic.

Teplice is referred to on timetables as Teplice v Čechách. A direct train leaves Hlavní nádraží station every 2hrs for Teplice (Kč195/€8, journey time 1hr 40mins). Alternatively, you can change at Ústí nad Labem (Ústí n L hl n) on a EuroCity train, same journey time, Kč250/€10). Teplice train station is north of town, a short walk away, the stadium on the west side, a schlep on foot but walkable if you’re already in the city centre.

Cheaper, quicker but less frequent from Prague, a Flixbus leaves from Nádraží Holešovice (red metro line C), taking 1hr to reach Teplice (Kč85/€3.50). It drops off at various points in town, including the main square of Benešovo náměstí.

Local yellow buses are run by MHD Teplice, pay the driver in cash (Kč20/€0.80, valid 45mins including changes). Tempo Taxi Teplice (+420 606 250 251) has a stand outside the train station.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

Teplice is dotted with traditional Czech bars, such as the Pivnice U Palmy alongside the Hotel Paradies in the shadow of the Letná observation tower. Sport is broadcast beneath the covered terrace, beer and satisfying grilled dishes served from opening time, 4pm each day.

On Kollárova, Hospůdka u Černé kočky is another traditional haunt, blessed with a beer garden for a front terrace. Alongside, Hospůdka u veselýho mandlu is the homely outlet for Ossegg beer from nearby Osek, in many of its forms. Its weekday menu is a steal.

Nearby, on Čestkobratrská, the Pivovar Monopol is attached to the hotel of the same name, serving its own beers in authentically styled surroundings, Monopol and Karlík, under award-winning chief brewer Martina Valterová.

A little out of the way but worth the trek, the Pivnice Legenda on Bohosudovská offers big-screen sport, darts and a large front terrace.

Further into town by the Colonnade, the Legends Rock Café opened a new bar area in 2022, giving regulars more space to sink draught Březňák from nearby Ústí nad Labem amid images of guitar heroes. 

Beneath Teplice Castle, amid a number of local landmarks, U Zamku on Zámecké náměstí provides a pleasant pitstop if you’re sightseeing.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the stadium and city centre

Visit Teplice has an accommodation database. Near the stadium, the affordable, mid-range Hotel Green House on U soudu not only takes advantage of proximity to football and ice-hockey action, but also to the surrounding greenery.

Also close, significantly upscale and overlooking the historic square of Zámecké náměstí, the Prince de Ligne echoes Napoleonic history, with its elegant interiors and connections with a Belgian prince who courted Madame de Staël here more than 200 years ago.

The other side of Teplice Castle, U Kozičky also dates back 200 years, a modern four-star revamped in 2014 where Germany’s most famous romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich, spent his later years, inspired by the landscape. The waterfall is a later addition.

Further round on Laubeho náměstí, beneath green slopes, the Paradies was built in 1788, and is today a 14-room, mid-range lodging beside the excellent Pivnice U Palmy. Close by, the Richmond is similar in appearance and offer, with on-site private parking. Reception only operates until 8pm.

Further up on Čestkobratrská, the Monopol is best known for its brewpub (see Where to drink) but you can also imbibe in its beer spa, relax in the Finnish, organic or herbal sauna, and steam and salt chambers. Nearby on Vrchlického, the four-star Giovanni Giocomo sits in lovely grounds, a romantic retreat inspired by the Venetian adventurer it is named after.

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