LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Viktoria Žižkov

Wanted: Another Vratislav Čekan to bankroll Viktorka

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

Formed in what was then the separate suburb of Žižkov, 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 Žižkov 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 Čekan, 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.

Vlasta Burian plaque/Peterjon Cresswell

Moribund after the war despite impeccable working-class credentials, the later TJ Viktoria were rescued in 1992 when entrepreneur Čekan stepped in to pour money into the club, renamed FK Viktoria.

With players such as Karel Poborský 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 Žižkov 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. 

Viktoria Žižkov mural/Peterjon Cresswell

Finishing fourth in the second-tier 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 Kč1 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. Succeed they did, but a fourth-placed finish in 2021 was followed by relegation in 2022. 

Viktorka showed admirable resolve in seeing off the reserve teams and lesser lights of the Bohemian League ČFL B home games on Sunday mornings attracting the usual motley crew of loyal locals and hungover expats on Euro football breaks.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

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 Žižkov TV Tower in the distance.

Improvements under the ownership of Vratislav Čekan increased seating, although the stadium still features only one main stand, backing onto the main road of Seifertova.

A club shop complements a friendly, stand-alone house that contains the club bar, and a string of pubs and restaurants along Seifertova, making Žižkov a pleasant place to watch a game of football not ten minutes from arriving into town by rail.

The main stand, Severní (‘North’) Tribuna, is covered, with uncovered seats in the Jižná (‘South’) Tribuna opposite. Away fans are accommodated in the Západní (‘West’) sector, at the other end of the ground from the club bar.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

Take trams 5, 9 or 26 one stop from the main station, Hlavní nádraží, to Husinecká. The stadium is right alongside. It’s a 15min walk otherwise, past the statue of Winston Churchill as you turn right from the main road of Italská running alongside the station, into Seifertova.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

The ticket office is by the main gate on Seifertova and the club also offers online sales.

Admission to the covered (krytá) North Stand (tribuna sever) is Kč130/€5.50, with places in the uncovered (nekrytá) stands, home south (domáci, jih) and away north (hosté, západ), set at Kč100/€4.20. Under-12s get in free. A programme is Kč10/€0.40.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Set by the Burian plaque, the match-day Fan Shop sells Viktorka home and dark blue away tops, branded beer glasses and openers, plus, apt given Žižkov’s red-and-white stripes, club toothbrushes.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Once lined wih bars and restaurants, Seifertova is now awash with either trendy breakfast spots or cheap takeaways. Even the reliable Restaurace Poja failed to survive lockdown, despite selling its splendid Ježek beer through a hatch to those in need. 

The only survivor, Sklep is a bar, restaurant and lodging in one, named after the theatre company whose members were regulars. It’s a pleasant spot for a Pilsner, with a glass-roofed conservatory if the sleek interior gets too much.

The cosy club bar behind the home west goal is run from 11am daily by a sympathetic local family. Their modest menu can be perused in the front room featuring a league table of scores faithfully felt-tipped in every week, or in the back room where Celtic fans must have been responsible for a mounted photo of Bobo Baldé. A portrait of a much-loved rock musician and Žižkov fan, sadly no longer with us, guards the doorway.

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