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Sparta and culture

Football is the world's most mass-market sport, so it's no wonder that it's also strongly connected to culture. Books have been written about Sparta, songs have been written, and it has even appeared in films! So what is the connection between culture and Sparta?

Sparta in music

The oldest surviving Spartan-themed pop songs date back to the First World War, when Vlasta Burian was a successful member of the team. Although he was more of a goalkeeper than a comedian at the time, even in his youth he was full of creativity and entertained both his teammates and fans.
At the beginning of the 1920s, his contemporary Karel Pešek-Káďa received an interesting award. In the well-known Prague cabaret Rokoko, the song Zlatovlasá primadona (Golden-haired prima donna), composed by composer Karel Baling, was played every night. It began with the well-known lyrics:
Dneska hraje Káďa, zlatovlasá primadona,
dneska hraje Káďa, každý tají dech.
Ten když kopne do meruny,
rozehraje srdce struny.
Dneska hraje Káďa,
chlouba celých Čech.
The great successes of the interwar years gave birth to the first official anthem of Sparta, which saw the light of day in 1936. Text V. Zeman was set to music by composer M. Štraub. The march was simply called A.C.Sparta and its refrain was:
Sparto, Sparto, jseš chloubou Čechů všech,
Sparto, Sparto, hraj dokud stačí dech.
Sparto, Sparto, vyhrávej nadále,
Sparto, Sparto, nám každé finále.
It was, however, the last musical act associated with Sparta for a long time. The advent of the communist regime did not favor such creativity, so the next song worth mentioning came only in the famous Cup year 1992 and its author is the band Alkehol. The frontmen of this rock formation, Ota Hereš and Petr Bureš, are paradoxically not fans of our club - they composed the song for their Spartan friends from the Na Slamníku pub. However, they hit the bull's-eye and their work is still very popular among Spartans today.
Kdo že tu dnes bude hrát?
Kdo že tu dnes zvítězí?
Kdo že bílorudé dresy obléká?
To celej českej národ ví!
No přece: železná Sparta, Sparta železná...
The following year, the club presented its first post-revolutionary anthem. It was presented to the fans in a Champions Cup match against Anderlecht and was written by Daniel Landa and Petr Janda. The song called "Do Attack" was recorded by Olympic and sung by Aleš Brichta, Ladislav Křížek, Vilém Čok, Kamil Střihavka and Petr Janda. Some sources even state that this is the origin of the popular cry "Who doesn't jump is not a Spartan."
Kdo neskáče není Sparťan kalenej,
rudý dresy vítá trávník zelenej,
někdo se zas dneska trochu poučí,
tribuna už vstává, kotel zahučí:
Do útoku, do útoku, do útoku...
In the same year, Karel Svoboda (music) and Karel Šíp (lyrics) contributed another magnificent piece to the club's collection with the song “Sing, who are you Spartan”. It was performed on 27.12.1993 in Hotel Atrium during a press conference on the occasion of the club's transformation into a joint stock company. The catchy tune won the fans over so much that Sparta decided to return to it a few years ago and today the song is played at Letná before every match.
Zpívej, kdo jsi sparťanem,
pozvedni svůj hlas,
zpívej a pak vyhrajem,
a vyhrajeme zas.
Zpívej, kdo jsi sparťanem,
tvůj klub je ti vším,
Sparta věčná zůstane,
a ze všech nejlepší
In 1996, Ladislav Křížek composed a successful song with the simple title "Sparta Hymn" and dedicated it to both football and hockey players. It eventually caught on much more in Holešovice than in Letná and for many years it was played in the Sports Hall before every home game. Michal Suchánek and Richard Genzer's attempt in 2000 called "Spartan Ride" was not so successful and he never gained any fans.
Another very original piece of music with Spartan content is by rapper Sax from Inside Kru. His song "Sparta Praha" accompanied the team and especially the younger generation of fans on their way to the championship title in 2010:
Když hraje Sparta tak jde všechno stranou,
neexistuje nic jinýho než tvůj klub,
všechny cesty vedou dneska večer na Letnou,
jediná přijatelná výmluva je smrt.

Kdo vždycky zvítězí - Sparta,
nejlepší klub je bez debat - Sparta,
a dokud bude v nás rudej plamen plát,
tak bude Sparta železná vyhrávat.
Even today there are many personalities with a Spartan heart in the music world, such as Aleš Brichta, Ondřej Hejma or Vojta Dyk. The latest example is the singer-songwriter Pokáč, who prepared a series of songs with a Spartan theme for the fans in the 2018/2019 season.
The most recent Spartan song is a hit by Rohony and Manene released at the time of winning the 38th title - in May 2024 - called Letná.
Zpívám první, zpívám na Letný
Tam kde to mám rád, tam kde já už patřím
Já nepřijdu domů, já nepřijdu včas
Když mám ruce nahoře, tak nikdy nejsem sám
Vzalo mi to srdce, vzalo mi to hlas
A to se stává, když máš něco rád
Na co vzpomínat, když neumírá sláva
Největší je S tam, kde je letenská tráva

Sparta in literature

The prehistory of Czech football, which we can consider to be the period before the Second World War, is only very poorly mapped in books. The testimony about the former glory of the two Prague teams is mainly given by the reports of the radio commentator Josef Laufer, translated into book form.
The first comprehensive overview of Spartans' history is provided by the book "Famous Figures of Our Football" by Ferdinand Scheinost published in 1940. We know the author's name mainly from the story of Karel Pesek-Kádi, whom Scheinost acquired for Sparta in the summer of 1913. However, his merits in the success of our club are much greater, for many years he was the highest official, organized the buying of players, arranged foreign tours and searched for sponsors in Prague cafes. He tells about all this in his book, the backbone of which is Sparta's journey to iron glory, supplemented by other stories from the history and behind the scenes of the earliest years of Czech football.
In 1966 Vítězslav Houška finished his first book dedicated to Sparta. He documented and presented the earliest stories from the club's history in a readable way. This first volume of "Iron Sparta", which ended with the winning of the Central European Cup in 1935, was successfully continued the following year. In it, the author detailed the difficult years of World War II and the rise of communism, when Sparta fell almost to the bottom. He ended it with the last match at the old Letná before its rebuilding, a clash with Bologna in 1966. The third edition of Iron Sparta with Tomas Skuhravy on the cover saw the light of day in 1992. It is a comprehensive narrative of the club's entire history, drawing on the first two books, supplemented by the latest events up to the famous elimination of Olympique Marseille in the Champions Cup nil. Even after that, Vítězslav Houška did not stop following Sparta closely, and two years ago he published the fourth, and unfortunately last, installment of his unique presentation of the club's history.
Two wonderful books tell the story of Sparta's legendary trips overseas in the relaxed atmosphere of the 1960s. The first was published in 1966 under the title Sparta in America. It features Andrej Kvašňák in a sombrero on the cover and the engaging narrative of Sparta's journey across the new continent is accompanied by many high quality photographs. Three years later, an equally interesting account of the second American tour, Sparta's Uruguayan Summer, was published.
From the period before the revolution, we must not forget the book that takes the Spartan fan behind the scenes of the club through the eyes of the most famous coach in our history. In 1988, Václav Ježek, in collaboration with Milan Mach, published an autobiography entitled "I coached the champions". It presents the football and coaching career of the famous coach, opening the doors of the Spartan cabin in the sixties and eighties. In addition, he recalls the difficult war years, the Belgrade success of the national team, but also the mysterious Spartan debacle in the same city a few years earlier, describes the relations in Dutch football and the coaching skills of one of Ježek's teachers, Karel Kolský. The golden years of the Spartan fans' library were in the first half of the 1990s. On the occasion of the club's centenary, the well-known writer František Nepil described his relationship with the blue-yellow-red colors in the book "My Centenary Love". Outside of documentary works, it would be hard to find a nicer text about Sparta than the one from the pen of the popular feyetonist. Shortly after the book's publication, the author himself narrated an equally successful audiobook. He recalls, among other things, his trip with Sparta to Istanbul and the defeat of the local Galatasaray, and concludes the book with a cross-section of the history of all the sports that Sparta plays.
The first footballer who decided to publish his own autobiography was Jan Berger in 1992. Considering his colorful career and life outside football, it is not surprising that the book "Hóóónza Berger, or I don't see it any other way", written in a typical colloquial Czech manner, brings a number of interesting and hardly believable stories from the career of the most popular Spartan footballer of the 1980s. Just two years later, Jozef Chovanec picked up the literary work of his former partner. As expected, his book "Captain from Letná" is much more serious and tactful compared to Berger's. However, this is not a bad thing at all, as we learn a lot about the club's events at the time, the stories are just presented with more insight and often from a different point of view.

The first footballer who decided to publish his own autobiography was Jan Berger in 1992

In the second half of the nineties an excellent book by the great Spartan František Pruckner entitled "Forty Years in the Sparta Auditorium" came into the hands of fans. As the title suggests, the author tells the story of hundreds of matches and footballers he has watched from the stands of the Letná stadium over the last decades. He talks about both the most famous and almost forgotten players. He devotes an entire chapter to each of them, full of authentic memories and experiences. Ten years later, František Pruckner has prepared a sequel, simply titled "Fifty Years in the Sparta Auditorium", where he has added the most recent period to the previous edition.
Jiří Novotný, the record holder in the number of league titles, also describes his beautiful memories of his long years in the red jersey in an autobiographical book written in collaboration with Karel Felt. The title "Sparta, My Life" speaks for itself. Jaromír Blažek tells an equally nice story about his years at Letná in his book "My Truth", which connects the successful years at the turn of the century with today. Other footballers whose names are indelibly linked to Spartan history - Tomáš Řepka, Pavel Nedvěd, Petr Čech, Pavel Horváth, František Straka and Tomáš Řepka - have also published autobiographies in recent years. Most recently, Václav Mašek has delighted all fans with his successful book The Faithful Spartan Heart, which recounts his years in the red jersey and in the presidential chair. A biography of Raymond Braine was also recently published in Belgium. We can conclude the list of the most interesting literature with the book "50 Famous Spartans" by Vítězslav Houška, the most diligent contributor to the Spartan bookshelves.

Sparta in movies

It was not only Sparta's sporting dominance in the 1920s and 1930s that was the key to its rapidly growing popularity. A big role was played by the personalities from among the artists who had been supporting our club for many years and were able to bring it closer to people for whom sport and football in particular were still the activities of oddballs. The pioneers in this respect were the oft-mentioned king of comedians Vlasta Burian, first a goalkeeper, then a great fan, sponsor and honorary chairman of the club, and his court director Martin Frič, in the future one of the founders and first chairman of Spartak Club.
The first well known actor to play a Sparta fan in a film was Jaroslav Vojta in Poláček's 1931 comedy Men Offside.Five years later, even the players of the famous team that had won the Central European Cup the year before were in front of the cameras. In the film Our Eleven, several former Spartan footballers appeared together with personalities such as Ladislav Pešek, Nataša Gollová and Oldřich Nový. Bohumil Klenovec, Jaroslav Burgr, Ferdinanc Fascinek, Erich Srbek and Jaroslav Bouček were given the opportunity to play themselves in the story of a young footballer from SK Plzen, who Spartan officials try to drag to Letná.
In 1938, Eduard Bass's popular book Klapzub's Eleven, featuring not only Sparta but also Slavia and Barcelona, and a supposedly authentic jersey of Václav Pilát from the early 1920s were made into a film. From the same period is the film Journey to the Depths of the Student's Soul, from which we all remember the fight between a Sparta fan played by R.A. Strejka and a Slavia fan. The years before the monarchy were marked by the growing popularity of football, whose reach had long since extended beyond the football pitch. It was becoming a social phenomenon and its presence in culture was essential.
After the forty-eighth, however, the Spartan footprint disappears from the film for a long time. It returned in 1969, albeit only briefly, but in style. Some of the scenes performed by Josef Šebánek in the comedy Ecce Hommo Homolka became more than legendary. The actor, himself a big Sparta fan, enthusiastically describes, for example, a world class attack that could "kick Real Madrid" and after the match in Teplice mentions his favorite players Andrej Kvašňák, Josef Jurkanin, Václav Vrána and Bohumil Veselý. We will all remember another memorable sentence "Ludva, if you don't get this football, you are a dead man with me." No other film has won over Spartan fans like this trilogy about the Homolka family from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The second important work from the pre-revolutionary period is the drama Why?, which still raises much confusion today. It tells the story of Sparta fans who follow their club on a long train journey to a match in Banská Bystrica, and portrays them in the worst possible light. Although the film is said to be based on a true story, witnesses of the trip agree on a completely different course of events. Reality, however, went by the wayside when the script was created, while the desired aggression and inadaptability of the fans was taken to the extreme. This regime agitation, describing the Spartan flag bearers and with them a whole generation of young people as almost criminals, was released in 1987, and although the film contains hilarious scenes and features a number of well-known actors, it did noticeable damage to Sparta's reputation and public perception in its time.
Our club has become a very popular film subject in the last decade. It all started in 2004 with Jan Hřebejk's comedy Horem pádem, where Jaroslav Dušek and Jiří Macháček played the roles of crazy Spartan fans. The same year saw the release of Non Plus Ultras, which takes place entirely in the environment of the hard core of Letná fans. Some of the actors, such as David Novotný, did not have to pretend to belong to Sparta; they themselves are at home at Letná. The red colors are also a grateful theme in the series and later the film Okresní přebor (District Review), in which many Sparta supporters participated not only as actors. And thanks to Jakub Kohák, Ondřej Vetchý or the aforementioned David Novotný, Sparta appears in many places in the plot, and never in a negative context.
The Letná stadium recently starred in Viewegh's A Novel for Men, and the Sparta training center in Strahov was the setting for some scenes from the new comedy Love is Love, in which Ondřej Vetchý played a fan of our club with gusto. In 2012, a documentary called Dva nula was also released, which charts the behavior of various couples during the Sparta - Slavia derby. From children to VIP guests. Recently, the documentary Na Sparta, produced by Tomáš Bláha, was also released, portraying three friends who travel from a small South Bohemian town to Sparta to support their club. Sparta is simply a phenomenon and there is no doubt that we will see it on the cinema screen many times in the future.