Sunday, 18 July 2010

FC Hradec Králové (Czech Republic)

Hradec Králové hail from the university town of the same name in the northern part of Bohemia. The city is perhaps most famous as a centre for the manufacture of instruments, particularly the well-regarded Petrof Pianos. One of the oldest settlements in the country, they also harbour one of the oldest football teams, who formed as long ago as 1905. But be warned, as they are another of those tricky teams who betrays the black and white stripes for a plain white kit on occasion, so if you're doing any stripes tourism in the area, make sure you find out what strip they're playing in first!

Their long history isn't without some success. They won the Czechoslovak First League at their first attempt in 1960 - a title that saw them qualify for the European Cup, where they made it as far as the quarter finals, before they met the footballing brick wall that is Barcelona. They also won the Czech Cup in 1995, again seeing them in Europe in the Cup Winners Cup, where they made it as far as the last sixteen.

Recent years haven't been so kind, as they have been a constant yo-yo club between the first two divisions. However, they easily won the 2. Liga in 2010, and as I write are preparing for another challenge of a season back with the big boys. Like much of the old East of Europe, they play in a ground with a running track around it - the 17,000 capacity Všesportovní Stadion - but that doesn't hamper the matchday atmosphere. It's also worth nothing as having some of the oddest looking floodlights in world football.

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