The dream of many fans of Bohemians 1905 football club has come true. After a victory over their main rivals HFK Olomouc on Monday, the historic Prague club were promoted to the Czech first division, four years after the club left the top flight. It was a difficult period, with the club coming very close to extinction - but now Bohemians are back.
It was the game of the season for both Bohemians and their host HFK Olomouc on Monday. Bohemians 1905, supported by great numbers of their fans who came to Moravia in as many as fourteen buses, won the match 3:1. They first scored at the very beginning of the game and at halftime were already leading 2:0. With one match to go, Bohemians 1905 join fellow Prague club Viktoria Zizkov in the first division, and can start preparing for the next season among the big boys. Antonin Jelinek, the head of Bohemians' supporters association says the next season will not be easy.
"It will definitely be one of the most difficult seasons because at the moment, the Dolicek stadium is not in a state that could host any first division game. There will be problems with the stadium and there will obviously be trouble with players adapting to the first league. But I believe that is something we will have to work on and I believe that we will get through."
Bohemians came by their unusual English-language name during a successful tour of Australia in 1927 where they earned great reputation and local press even compared the Czech globetrotters to the English national team. Although Bohemians do not rank among the most successful Czech clubs, they did win the federal first division in 1983. But the new millennium brought tough times for Bohemka, as the club is affectionately known to fans. Due to severe mismanagement, it went bankrupt two years ago and was relegated to the third division. Only after a supporters' trust was formed that managed to raise enough funds, the club was revived and now celebrates its return to the elite.
The new season of the Czech Gambrinus Liga will feature four teams from the Czech capital, including this year's champion Sparta and its eternal rival Slavia. Pavel Capek, football commentator for Czech TV, says for Bohemian's followers, this should not be a worry.
"Prague has seen the situation with five teams, including Dukla, playing in the first division here. Bohemians, unlike Viktoria Zizkov, have the advantage of having very good supporters, something which became even stronger after Bohemians in fact ceased to exist. The fans were the major driving force behind the club's revival and I believe that they will really enjoy the comeback to the first division."
While Sparta Prague have been making every effort to attract crowds and Slavia promise to open a new stadium next year, football fans in Prague really do have a lot to look forward to in the coming season.
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