Hundreds of fans head to Arctic Circle for first Bohemians European game since 1980s

Football stadium of Bohemians Prague 1905

Prague football club Bohemians 1905 surprised almost everyone when an unexpected fourth place in Czech football’s top flight last season earned them a place in the qualifiers for the Europa Conference League – their first European competition since 1987. The team, and hundreds of fans, are now in Norway in the town of Bodø, located just north of the Arctic Circle, to take on the local team.

Klokaní cesta do Evropy

Football stadium of Bohemians Prague 1905 | Photo: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International

Hundreds of fans of the Prague club Bohemians 1905, nicknamed "Klokani" because of their kangaroo mascot, have made the long trip to the north of Norway to support their team in Thursday evening’s match against the Norwegian Bodø/Glimt.

Long-time fan Nikola told Czech Radio that she got her tickets as soon as it was clear that her favourite club were going to Norway.

“We go to almost every away game, if possible. This will be an experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’m so excited that I can be here with the other fans, who are the ones that create this amazing atmosphere.”

Jiří Hošek | Photo: Archive of Jiří Hošek

The Czech team’s participation in this opening game of the second qualifying round was by no means assured – they last competed in a UEFA tournament in 1987. Indeed, as sports commentator Jiří Hošek told me, the club was at one point close to falling apart.

“It was a total rollercoaster because Bohemians went from the verge of bankruptcy – there was a split in the club and a massive crowdfunding campaign by the fans – but I think the acquisition of coach Jaroslav Veselý was the turning point, and also a couple of really experienced players proved to be really decisive to gel the team together. The performances last season in the Czech domestic league were a massive surprise, and a top four finish is a huge success for the club.”


However, Bohemians has a tough match ahead. Bodø/Glimt are a decorated club and Hošek doesn’t rate the Prague team’s chances very highly.

“It’s going to be very tricky for Bohemians – maybe they will be nervous, very few of the players have featured in really big games in the last couple of years. So the perspective is kind of grim because the Norwegian team is leading the domestic league and has benefited from the return of some really talented players, so I think the chances are something like 80-20 in favour of the Norwegian team. Also we must bear in mind that the Czech domestic league has only just started, so that also plays into the hands of the Norwegian team, which has more matches under its belt in this part of the season.”

Coach Jaroslav Veselý | Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

However, Bohemians 1905 themselves do not share his pessimism. Assistant coach Ivan Hašek wrote on the club’s website on Wednesday that the team “didn't come to Norway to have a good time, we came to fight for a place in the next round”, and forward Jan Matoušek told Czech Radio that he thinks they stand a chance.

“They’re a strong team, but I think that if we don’t give them a chance to breathe, we can put them under pressure and we’ll have a big advantage.”

Plus, you can never underestimate the power of the support of the fans, adds Hošek.

“This, for me, is a big story – how many fans from the Czech Republic have actually travelled far north. This trip is long and very costly. So I think Czech fans tonight will be very noisy and could be the ‘twelfth player’.”

The fans of Bohemians Prague 1905 | Photo: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International
Authors: Anna Fodor , Adam Weidenthaler
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