When people think of some of the oldest clubs in the Czech Republic, they will inevitabely say Sparta Prague or Slavia Prague. Not many, or almost no one would say SK Prostějov, which was established in 1904, making it one of the oldest clubs outside of Prague and in the Czech Republic.
A club with such a long history deserves better than what has happened over the past few years. A mixture of politics, money, and personal ambitions has caused football in Prostějov to become a confusing mess, which demonstrates the problem with modern football. The fast track to success took precedence over tradition, and sadly not many people in the city have cared. Except for a group of SK Prostějov supporters who have tried to keep the tradition of the club alive in difficult circumstances. Some of them supporting the same club their grandfathers supported.
It was in 1936 and 1937 that the club played in the old Czechoslovakian first division, finishing only behind Sparta Prague and Slavia Prague. During these two years, they also made a foray into European football. In 1936, they entered the Mitropa Cup where they defeated Admira Vienna 6-3 on aggregate, before going out in the next round 3-0 on aggregate to Hungarian side Ujpest. The following year, they again entered the Mitropa Cup, but lost 6-5 on aggregate to Grasshoppers Zurich. These years would be the most successful for the club, in terms of the first division and European play. Over the next few decades the club would bounce around from the 2nd to the 4th divisions. Despite this, they were a focal point of the city, and something the people took pride in. A club with a history in playing in the old Czechoslovakian first division, and playing in a pre-cursor to modern day European football competitions should have a better fate than what has happened to it recently.
During the 1990′s, it wasn’t uncommon to see crowds of 2000, or over 3000 for the more important games. The change of the century lead a slow, but steady decline of SK Prostějov. Attendance would slip to around 1000. This lack of revenue meant the club struggled for money. The season of 2002-03 would be the last in 2nd division for the immediate future. The final game saw a crowd or 2800. From here on in the club struggled on and off the field, eventually dropping down to the 5th tier. Despite the drop in attendance, some sections of the crowd continued to go to the games. SK supporter groups really began to become better organized in the 1980′s. It was during this decade that they were known as ‘skala’, which is means rock in Czech. A symbol of the terraces where they stood in the stadion. In the 1990′s they took the name of Ultras, but were also known as Prostějovaci or Sklani.
After the 2006-07 season, the club decided to drop the men’s team and focus on the youth. Like many things today, money is what makes the ball go round. With the decline of the men’s side, the main SK stadium began to crumble. Grass over took the terraces, the wooden benches began to fall apart, and the state of the ground reflected what had happened to football in the city.Prostějov, a city of 50,000, was faced with having no ‘major’ football club. The biggest men’s side at the start of the 2007-08 season was Haná Prostějov who played in the 8th tier of football in the county.
This is where TK Plus comes into play. They are a sports marketing agency, who has propped up various clubs in the city over the past few years from hockey, tennis, baskeball, volleyball and football. SK were looking for a new sponsor to pump some revenue into the club.
It was also during this time that SK Prostějov reformed the men’s side during the 2010/11 season in the Okres Prostějov IV třida, which is effectively the 10th and bottom tier of football in the country. They rolled over their competition and were promoted to the III třída. A member of the SK Prostějov ultras, who has followed the side for over 20 years said they wouldn’t support FK Prostějov at all. Instead, he and others have travelled around the district watching SK Prostějov play in village after village in front of 30-100 people. The sad thing is that there wasn’t a place for SK to play in the city over the past few years, and they were forced to play in the surrounding villages of Mostkovice and Kostelec na Hané. It felt like they were very much the unwanted brother in the organization. After the initial season of SK Prostějov, rumours began to spread about a significant change in the organization.
SK were looking to buy the 4th tier license from Vítkovice, who were relegated from the 3rd tier the year before and were struggling with finances. During the off-season conflicting reports kept coming in about the possible purchase. No one really knew what was going on. It wasn’t until a few weeks before the season was supposed to begin that SK bought the license from Vítkovice. To do this, they had to rename the 4th tier club to FK Prostějov, even though they were still SK Prostějov. The whole thing was a gray area, and what it meant was that FK Prostějov didn’t exist a week before the season began, and all of a sudden they were parachuted into Divize E. They bought their way in, as simple as that. Even though FK and SK are the same club, the latter has no history other than money.
All this was possible from the money put into the club from their main sponsor, TK Plus. A long time supporter of SK Prostějov told me that FK had the backing of TK Plus, and from the city council. He isn’t very optimistic about the future of the club, as he told me „in the summer, SK and FK will merge, because FK needs the youth clubs from SK. I think it is over for SK Prostějov which was established in 1904, and it could be the end of a long tradition.“ The SK Prostějov team should be playing in the Okresní Přebor next season, which is the 8th tier of football, while the current FK side will be playing in the MSFL (3rd tier).
He and a few others who are the only ones continuing to support and fight for the football tradition in this city. It may be a losing battle, but it is great to see people who still value tradition over money and the quick fix. It has been reported that both clubs will use the name SK next year, with the side in the Okresní Přebor being the reserves. Will this merger of the names bring back the fans who didn’t wan to support FK?