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1918-1926: The Iron Sparta

In the autumn of 1918 many Spartans returned from the war and with them the old fighting spirit. The 4:1 victory over Slavia in the final of the Central Bohemian Cup heralded the birth of a phenomenal team, which in the early days in the first post-war years, not only at home, but also in Europe. The way it was able to crush one opponent after another earned in the nickname ,,the iron machine”.

Winner of the Charity Cup, Champion of Central Bohemia County, Winner of the Central Bohemia Cup


Winner of Central Bohemia County, Winner of the Central Bohemia Cup


Winner of the Central Bohemia County


Winner of the Central Bohemia County


Winner of the Central Bohemia County, Winner of the Central Bohemia Cup


Winner of the Central Bohemia Cup


Winner of the Central Bohemia Cup


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Just so you know, I don't want anything. I'm staying in Sparta, I'm not leaving Prague. I have a good job there.

– Antonín Janda-Očko refused to transfer to FC Barcelona

Ideal 11

The line-up was selected by the chairman of the Club of Sports Journalists and co-author of the book Iron Sparta Zdeněk Pavlis.

It's unbelievable what power Sparta had and what results it achieved after the First World War. That's why it was virtually invincible for six years. That's why they ruled domestically and on the old continent as well. That's why it was the iron Sparta, whose rule was recognised by the entire European continent. What was left for him to do when the Spartan machine was crushing one opponent after another.


25. 12. 1921
FC Barcelona vs. Sparta Praha
2. 5. 1922
Sparta Praha vs. Celtic Glasgow
16. 8. 1922
Sparta Praha vs. FC Norimberk
14. 5. 1925
Sparta Praha vs. Nacional Montevideo
6. 1. 1926
FC Barcelona vs. Sparta Praha

I didn't even know myself what Sparta meant to me. When I announced the transfer, nobody spoke to me at home. My younger brother cries wherever he goes. Neighbours in the house don't answer my greetings, my friends don't see me on the street. I can't take it anymore...

– František Kolenatý after he changed his mind about the transfer from Sparta to Slavia


Václav Pilát
Václav Pilát

(*6. 5. 1888 - †27. 1. 1971) He joined Sparta in 1909 and wore the red jersey in 443 matches. He celebrated five championships in the top domestic competition and scored 323 goals. However, at the beginning of the First World War he succeeded at the front with a very severe spinal injury and even news spread that he had died. Fortunately, this was not true, but it was long said that he survived his death. He lay unconscious all day on the battlefield, and the doctors at first did not believe in saving his life at all. Underwent six major surgeries and was bedridden for a year and a half. Only in the summer of 1916 did he return home as an invalid. in 1918 he was again at the head of the Spartan attack. Moreover, thanks to his tremendous will, discipline and lifestyle, he kept himself in excellent shape. Until 1923 he was one of the mainstays of the Iron Sparta, one of its brightest stars. Until 1923 he was one of the mainstays of the Iron Sparta, one of its brightest stars.

Karel Pešek-Káďa
Karel Pešek-Káďa

(*20. 9. 1895 - †30. 9. 1970) In June 1913, at the traditional Prague tournament, a great tug-of-war began for this fair-haired footballer, from which Sparta emerged victorious, to which he signed on for 20 years. He played an impressive 727 games for the club and scored 28 goals. In the middle of the reservation, he soon became a personality recognized throughout Europe. His greatest asset was his tremendous calm and perfect overview. He had a perfect jump, fought at full speed, with great vitality and volition. He gave everything to the game: heart and breath, joy and enthusiasm. Was called a prima donna, but not in a derogatory sense. Adorned him with elegance on the field and in society.

František Kolenatý
František Kolenatý

(*21. 1. 1900 - †24. 2. 1956) He was born in 1900 and has been wearing the red jersey since he was twelve years old. Due to his extraordinary talent, he was assigned to the first team as a 16-year-old junior right back. However, he lacked a hard shot and was soon moved to the edge of the midfield, which proved to be the right move. In 1920 - 1923 he was a key player of the Iron team, eight times he helped Sparta to the first place in the highest domestic competition, and when he left Letná in 1931 he had 517 games and 54 goals. His greatest strengths were speed, technique and fearlessness. As an extreme midfielder, he took full advantage of a strong start on the ball and also benefited from accurate passes. For more than 12 years, no one could imagine a backup except with Kolenaty at Kada's side.

František Peyr
František Peyr

(*5. 8. 1896 - †26. 11. 1955) He defended the colours of Sparta from 1918 to 1923 and was a pillar of the iron team. He actually became a goalkeeper out of necessity and by chance. He was more into athletics and swimming, he played football only recreationally and not very well as a defender. But in 1918 Sparta was without a goalkeeper and Peyer grabbed the chance by the armpit. He was the goalkeeper of the big games. Whenever something was at stake, he never failed. Literally amazing were his interventions in the then frequent clashes with excellent Spanish teams. He's become a penalty-kick killer.

Antonín Hojer
Antonín Hojer

(*31. 3. 1894 - †20. 10. 1964) He joined Sparta in 1912 and wore the red jersey for 19 years. He played 483 games and scored 123 goals, which makes him the best leading scoring defenseman of all the time. Even at his young age, he has secured a permanent place in the starting line-up with his performances. First as a midfielder, but later at the right-back position he fully developed his talent. He was a tough and fearless player, but never tricky or brutal. His strong points included an incisive kick-off, but he preferred to pass accurately. He was not lacking in technique or speed, but what adorned him most was his steadfast loyalty to the red jersey, reliability and dedication.

I am ordering all first team and reserve players to report to the field immediately! Anyone who wants to play with me should put on the jersey immediately. Whoever doesn't want to play, leave. Sparta will play today with ten substitutes and win! That's what I, the captain of AC Sparta, declare here.

– Karel Káďa-Pešek reacting to the imminent rebellion in the team before his 400th game for Sparta