Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Czechoslovakian Cup was also won by Slovan – the final was played between the winners of the Czech and the Slovak Cups. The Czech Cup was won by Slavia (Prague). This is the oldest Czechoslovakian club, found in 1892. The football section was established in 1896. Slavia, along with their arch-rivals Sparta (Prague), were the leading club before the Communists took power. Every country has a football team, which claims martyrdom built on real and imagined persecutions. Slavia is the Czech version – the ‘bourgeois past’ of the club made them a prime target. The club was renamed three times – to Sokol Slavia in 1948, Dynamo Slavia in 1953, and finally Dynamo in 1954. The original name was restored in 1965, when the liberalization leading to the ‘Prague spring’ started. Yet, during the whole period of Communist rule Slavia won only once – the Czech Cup in 1974. A strong evidence of victimization, so 1974 stays as shining example of defying the state.
Politics are one thing, purely football arguments – quite another. Unlike Slovan, Slavia had only one real star – Frantisek Vesely, plus two local heroes – Zdenek Klimes and Frantisek Zlamal. It was not a squad able to win championship and even reaching the the final for the national cup was more or less just good luck. Slavia was better suited for providing puzzling amusement: at the time 1893 was featured as founding year; now it is 1892. The other thing will come at the end of the 1970s, when Czechoslovakia started exporting players – the strange ‘package’ including very, very old Frantisek Vesely attached to coveted Antonin Panenka. The Czechs made a point that they are for sale together, not separately… but this was in the unforeseen future in 1974.