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M. Kares: Czech football style and class

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2021-08-04 00:02:17

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Czech football style and class
M. Kares | 11/01/1924

The question of whether Czech football is advancing or lowering its level is often discussed repeatedly. Anyone who wants to solve this problem must know by autopsy the different evolutionary phases of Czech football during the last 10 or 15 years.
The time before the one indicated is not considered, since it had only been a phase of rehearsals and learning, when it was not yet possible to speak of some peculiar style of Czech football sport.
However, it was then that Czech footballers, after witnessing the master display of the English team at Oxford University, came to appropriate the fundamental element of modern football, and especially of Czech football sport: the combination. Overtaking all the nations on the continent, Czech players came to understand how powerful a methodical system represents in the selfless collaboration of an eleven. At a time when in the proximity of Bohemia-Hungary, Vienna and Germany — only kick and rush was played, Czech footballers were already trying to achieve a combined game. The style of the Czech teams of that time had some analogy with the current Danish method: combination with long and often high passes — the so-called long passing — and violent way of attacking the ball. A style of this kind can be crowned with success only when it is executed by a splendid forward, surely a shoot, conditions that Czech football came to fulfill thanks to the collaboration of Banda, Setzer, Kosek, Baumruck and others.
However, the results, due to the aforementioned style, were more or less casual; that is to say, they depended to a high degree on the momentary disposition of these individuals with outstanding qualities.
Thus it is explained that the Slavia team was able, at that time, to celebrate a sensational victory to receive a no less sensational defeat the next day, even in the case of the same adversary. Czech football owes the credit of introducing low-level combination play to the Slavia team to Jenny-Stary, the best center Czech sport had ever been able to show before Pilát's entry into the entity. However, because the combined style did not find the proper understanding among the rest of the players, a kind of transitory style originated, an intermediate game between long and tall and between short and flat. This mixed style has since been practiced among Czech teams.
The club that most rose to the fame of Slavia was Sparta in the years prior to 1910. At that time, two members of the Olimpia Club of the old city of Prague, Václav Pilat and Antonín Fivebr, distinguished themselves at Sparta. , which, little by little, came to impose on the whole team the flat combination style with all its details and nuances that today still imprint a characteristic stamp on Czech football: insight, serenity, a time filled with action, the ability to disconcerting the rival and trapping the ball to the unmarked player, the so-called exhibition game, that is, the way of alternating the game of the three interiors with that of the wings; the contact of the offensive with the media and mutual contact of the later positions. This method of play was introduced by Pilát up front; in the rest of the positions it was imposed by Fivebr. There is no doubt that the propagandists of this simple combination were only following the example of the English professionals, a game that in Bohemia, in the last period, before the boycott, was mainly exhibited by Manchester United and the eleven representative of England.
Anyone who had been able to follow the transformations that took place in the Sparta team during the last ten years did not fail to observe that every player, once again entering the ranks of the club, was, so to speak, shaped by their environment, so that , either came to adapt entirely to the style of play, or he left it, and therefore also had to leave the team.
Excellent individuals were sometimes unable to adapt (Rutt, Adolf, Klimes and others), so they did not know how to assert themselves; while others (Vaník, Belka, Kada, Hojer, Berger, Karlik, Husek, etc.), soon came to appropriate this typical style, contributing to its general introduction.
After the departure of the rusher Kosek, Slavia also accepted this style in whose team, in the pre-war era, its most pronounced representatives were Medek, Maisl, Hajný, Siroky and Belka, which revealed an astonishing ease of conforming to the method modern, despite having passed through the ancient school.
As for Victoria Zirkov, that style was introduced there by the glorious center forward Jar. Mysik, the most popular figure in football, as well as Pilát, in the pre-war phase of Czech football.
The war interrupted the development of Czech football, not without obvious damage to its style, due to the fact that they had to hire neophyte players, with insufficient technique, those who contributed goodwill sooner than scientific game.
Thanks to the favorable cooperation of circumstances, the team came to stay at a relatively high level, and it was precisely during the war that a transformation in favor of the modern Czech style took place in the team, which came to take root there through Vaník's merit. The importance that several outstanding players came to have in terms of the character and scientific class of the game is derived from the fact that after the return of Pilát and Fivebr, Sparta immediately rebuked their prewar style and returned to an exceptional height in the post-war era.
It was fortunate for Sparta that after Fivebr's departure his important position could be filled by such an eminent player as Kada, and that Pilate found an almost equivalent substitute in Kozeluh; so we can be hopeful that Sparta's style will not be violated and that it will become a tradition.
It becomes evident, then, that since 1910 Czech soccer has made undeniable progress, which greatly contributed to the famous splendid isolation caused by the boycott of Vienna since 1908, a fact that involuntarily cemented the internal development of Czech football sport. Slavia, who until then had been the only Czech team of international class, found themselves obliged, in their foreign isolation, to play against Czech clubs, for which such encounters were a great sporting benefit.
It can be clearly seen to what degree the quality of the performance of the Czech teams has been increasing since then, both in defense, mid and attack, stabilizing and gradually equalizing the classification of the Czech teams, which, after having renounced the old rushing, they are penetrating in the methodical low combination that cemented the successes of the Czech school. It was first of all the Sparta, which by giant steps was achieving the fame of its rival Slavia, until it even beat them in 1911.
In addition to Sparta, a series of other teams raised their level significantly; as a matter of fact, in the years 1912-1914 Czech football already had three teams of great continental class: Sparta, Slavia and Victoria. This era can perhaps be called the culminating point of Czech football; What's more, in 1912, 1913 and 1914, Czech football, represented by this splendid suit, was at a higher altitude than it is today.
If we remember the superb Sparta-Slavia, Sparta-Victoria and Slavia-Victoria matches, a series of famous names emerge before us, a whole gallery of players of the upper class: at Sparta, the splendid offensive suit Karlik-Pilát-Vaník , the no less excellent Husek-Fivebr-Kada midline, the pair of defenders Pospsil-Hojer and goalkeeper Zadak; in Slavia and Medek-Belka, Roznmisl, Hajný and Veselyi, and in Victoria, Fysiknseior, Prokop, Fichta, Steiner, Zvelebil or Klapka. Such a varied series of individual types has never been recorded by Czech football before or since. Some of these players continue to perform on Czech teams today, and to this day they remain irreplaceable, so that there are few among the players of later times who can compare with them.
In addition to Janda, Sedlacek and Kozeluh, who emerged in the early years of the war, may be included in this cast of select players from the new generation of football, perhaps only Dvořáček, Stapl and Kolenatý.
This decrease in outstanding ranking players was due to very natural causes, since the war was violently interrupted the development of Czech football, depriving the sport of Bohemia of a number of promising teams. Only the present epoch is linking there where evolutionary progress had been broken in 1914, and there is no doubt that the gaps will not take long to fill, and that the rising stars will supply all the disappearing magnitudes.
The players of the class of Kosek, Pilát, Kada, Vaník, Janda, Belka, Fivebr will hardly find equivalent substitutes in Czech football, even though it can be expected that, as a whole, the Czech teams will come to talk about the old level.
If, on the one hand, there has been a temporary decrease in outstanding individuals, mainly shooters, Czech teams have made great strides in terms of speed, combined play, consistency of positions and tactics, qualities that they had acquired thanks to the harsh international competition.
Thus, at present, what happened in the years 1908-1911 is happening on a high scale; In the same way that Sparta and Victoria were striving for the supremacy of Slavia then, today a series of teams are striving to conquer the position of our extra class represented by Sparta and Slavia.
There is no doubt that this noble competition will unveil new and outstanding individuals in Czech football sport, capable of maintaining and defending the victorious Czech football tradition. In this sense, the systematic instruction of neophytes is called to play a very important role, perhaps as it is mainly carried out by the clubs of Central Bohemia, and it is precisely the young people in whose hands is the future of our favorite popular sport.