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1926: Svoboda, Sparta's director, about the history of A.C Sparta

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-07-12 14:14:12

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.

OOn Tuesday, the telegram arrived from Prague: Sparta is preparing for Budapest with deadly seriousness. The telegram, which contains the names of 15 players, has a slightly chilling air of big football events. The names of 15 national team players. Two goalkeepers, three full-backs, four half-backs and six forwards. Representing the once again formidable Czech champions. Hochmann, Kabila, Hojer, Perner, Steiner, Kolenatý, Káďa, Červený, Miclík, Sedláček, Poláček, Dvořáček, Hajný, Hrubý, Horejs. Famous campaigns mark their path, this club team has even fielded a full Olympic team, very interesting to get to know them better.
For a moment, one is in disbelief as the Sparta crew steps out of the fast cars of the Prague Express. They don't look like demigods at all, but rather like good officials, arriving in the capital on Monday morning to start afresh the work they left off on Saturday. (Though perhaps that's the secret of their success: playing the matches as if they were a normal, official duty.)
On the way to the hostel, we catch their manager, who once again adds to the impression the team has made at the station.
Interview? Smiling, he reaches into his waistcoat pocket, pulls out a small leather-bound notebook and immediately makes up a nice, round Sparta story from a few notes. Yes, but how he makes it up. Engineer Svoboda is a practical man, simply set up for interviews, like, say, his half-back line for cross passes.
If not what you say, it is not a template. The conversation is a little long, it is interrupted twice because of the accommodation. But what emerges from the speech is a romantic novel, with legendary figures, and to be believable, I am a little troubled by the fact that the characters are so very close to us and, in a way that is not appropriate for the legendary heroes, they ask the maid for a clothesbrush.
Svoboda: I don't know if you're interested in Sparta's past. Well, it's just over twenty years this year since Sparta's football team rose from mediocrity and I don't think any other team on the continent has done what we did. At the beginning Slavia dominated over everyone, but when their best players Baumruck, Košek and Krummer came to us, Sparta came back with a vengeance and in 1904 we won 9:2 against Freiberg, 7:0 against Vienna, 4:3 against WAC (the next day!) and the following year we finished 7:3 against Preussen, 5:3 against Union Berlin, 4:1 against BTC, 3:1 against MTK, 4:2 against FTC. All these teams were European champions at the time, and Sparta only lost 3-2 to New Castle United, the English champions at the time.
» The Slavia players later returned, and Sparta momentarily slumped as a result, but they were back at it again in 1911, beating the then unbeaten Czech side Slavia 3-0. From then on, Sparta led Czech football.
» Suffering much from the war, the team was completely replaced three times and isolated from the world, with only Slavia as a worthy opponent. In 1919, a new flowering begins.
» In 1916, 20, 21, 22 and 23, Sparta won the Czech championship five times in a row without drawing a single game or losing a single point. At the same time, they win the cup, which is now finally theirs.
» Meanwhile, Sparta are virtually stuffing the national team with their players. Nine players from the Czech team that won the Pershing Olympics (1919) and eleven from the Antwerp Olympics (1920) are wearing the Czech colours. Later that year, the proudest Latin teams were beaten. Genoa 8-0, Ligurian champions Andrea Doria 4-0, AC Bilbao 3-1 and 4-1, and the South Spanish Selection 3-2. The streak continues. In 1921, Austrian champion Rapid 3-1 and 4-1, WAF 6-0, 5-0, Rudolshügel 4-0, Nuremberg 5-2, Bayern (Munich) 5-0, Guts Muts (Dresden) 5-0, Fortuna (Leipzig) 5-0, Danish champion Boldklubben (Copenhagen) 2-0, Dutch champion Breda 10-1, Turkish champion Galatasaray 12-0.
You get dizzy with these results. Sparta beat their league rivals at home, win the cup and have the strength to do so much more in a year. We will not even note Sparta's campaigns, we will just listen in amazement to the ever-smiling gentleman's chatty speech. But at 1925 he glances up from his now highly respected notebook, and we, conscious of our impoliteness, continue to take notes.
Svoboda: Koželuh left the team, Dvořáček is injured, the Sparta crisis has affected the Parisians' Olympics. Nevertheless, Imperto Lisbon 11-0, Benfica (Lisbon) 5-0, Lisbon City 5-0, Valencia 5-1, but Sparta are beaten in Barcelona, FC Barcelona 1-0 and 2-1. Dresden's good cheer is taken in return, Guts-Mats are beaten 14-0 and today you still wonder how. The winning streak refuses to end. But Bolton Wanderers know no respect, beating Sparta 3-1. Now comes the real crisis. Two great forwards, Dvořáček and Hajný, have broken their legs. Proud Sparta finally have the nerve to sign the foreigner Alfréd Schaffer.
» Calm is restored, the excellent Šíma is acquired, Hajný and Dvořáček are slowly recovering and in the autumn they have already beaten the Uruguayan team, which was thought to be unbeatable, twice, and even Bolton Wanderers.
» The scale of victory starts with a forwards, Vienna are beaten 6:2, the champion Amateur 7:2. And in these games, Hochmann, Káďa and Schaffer did not play. In the cup final they beat Slavia 1:2 with 10 men, then they take the train to Spain and Switzerland for the winter. They start the spring with the formidable Viktoria Ziskov, Sparta falter a little (3-3), but Slavia (3-2) and Slovan Vienna (4-0) are next and Sparta's prestige is once again undiminished.
But what kind of lads are these Sparta players? We have taken Mr. Svoboda on a little too much, and so we ask this question with caution. But it is no big deal for Mr. Svoboda, who merely flicks through his notebook, wipes his glasses and reads, as follows.
Svoboda: Hochmann is 22, the best Czech goalkeeper, a multiple national team player, an Olympian, a 3-year Sparta player, and otherwise a private official. Hojer is 30, motorbike driver, captain of Sparta for 14 years, has played in every national team match for Prague and the Czech Republic — the best Czech full-back along with Perner, who is only 27 but also a serious national team player. Steiner only joined Sparta this year. Kolenatý is the best Czech right half-back, 26, a bank clerk and has played in every national team match since 1918. Karel Pešek, known as Káďa, is the greatest Czech footballer of all time, the Czech Orth. The captain of the national team, a Spartan player since 1913, a member of every Czech national team to date, 30 years old, a ministry official. Left half-back Červený, 31, a locksmith, many times a national team player. Right winger Sedláček, who has played a major role in Czech football in recent years. Sparta player since 1918, many times national team player. Dvořáček's form has declined somewhat, but he is still one of the best Czech forwards. He has been a Sparta player for four years. Formerly an inside forward, more recently a centre-forward. Multiple national team player. Hajný. Sparta player since 1922, left forward, multiple national team player. Horejs. All-round player. Former Austrian national team full-back and left winger, the latter position he still plays for Sparta.
» Steiner, who was also an Olympian, is also a reserve. The young Poláček has only been a national team player once, so he is still a reserve in Sparta.
Last card, the notebook is closing. We thank Mr. Svoboda for the interview. He deserves your thanks.
But there's one last question.
— What result do you expect in Thursday's match?
His eyes twinkle, and he answers with a confident gesture:
Svoboda: We must win the game easily!
The other steward next to us now speaks, and he knows why, trying to soften the somewhat loud statement of his colleagues:
— I too hope we will win, but if the heavens have decided otherwise — there is no impossibility in football — we will fail. But if there is no way out, we will not win, and if the odds are against us, we will not succeed.