The story of Hajduk is really the story of Split during the past hundred or so years. The football club was founded in 1911 and was always much more than just a club, representing one of the main points of identity of Split going back to the time when it was founded by the students from Split studying in Prague, Fabjan Kaliterna, Vjekoslav Ivanišević, Lucijan Stalla and Ivan Šakić.
The history of Hajduk is abundant with achievements but not only in sports, making it an indispensible part of the contemporary history of Split and Croatia. Hajduk has been continuously playing in the first league since 1923. In 1924 in the game between the representations of Yugoslavia against Czechoslovakia 10 players came from Hajduk, confirming the dominance hard to find anywhere in the world. In the years to come Hajduk was often at the top of the charts in Yugoslavia and in Croatia, he was the champion 18 times, and he won the cup 15 times. There were also notable European achievements - one time semi finalist of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, one time semi finalist of the UEFA Cup and three times quarter finalist of the European Cup or today's the UEFA Champions League.
There are so many other things making Hajduk so much more than just sports. In 1926 the club had its own operetta, composed in honour of Hajduk by Ivo Tijardović, it is hard, if not impossible, to find an example of a football club which has "its own" operetta.
The Second World War brought out probably the brightest out-of-sports episode in Hajduk's history. After refusing to play in the Italian League, as requested by the occupation's authorities, the entire team of Hajduk went to Vis in 1944, which was a free territory, club was renewed there and acted as the anti-fascist army team, the game with the British army team in Bari was the best attended sports event during the war, 40.000 people watched.
General Charles de Gaulle declared in 1945 Hajduk the honorary team of the free France for that very reason. Just as Hajduk and Split are inseparable so are Hajduk and its supporters, who have in 1950 founded one of the first organised fan clubs in Europe, called after their Brazilian role model Torcida. Through all these decades Torcida stood by its club, during its good and bad times, and the celebration of 100 years of Hajduk in 2011 was a magnificent demonstration of love towards the club admired also through photographs by the entire world.
Usually in Split everything seems to be about football, it seems as though there is no other club which could identify itself with Split besides Hajduk. But when we're talking about sports achievements, there is one standing tall, raising above everything the local football myth managed to achieve in its entire history. Of course, we're talking about BC (basketball club) Split or - BC Jugoplastika as it was called during its glory days.
World basketball organisation (FIBA) declared the "Yellows" from Split, or their generation from the late eighties, the best team in the world of all times. Such title was the result of three European Champion titles in a row, in 1989, 1990 and 1991, but the history prior to these dates was also filled with glorious successes. Unfortunately, today they are far from their former glory, but with an eternal hope of returning to the old paths of success.
The club was founded in 1945 when basketball was still considered an exotic sport. Still, the main part of their history begins in 1963 when they managed to enter the first Yugoslav league. After that came the successes. In ex-Yugoslavia, the country considered one of the three greatest basketball superpowers, they were the country champions six times. They won the National Cup five times.
After Croatia's independence they have won another five Cups and they were also once champions. International successes started in 1972, when they lost the Euro league Finals in Tel Aviv by just one point against Ignis from Varese, while next year they reached the finals of the Saporta Cup. After that they won the Cup of Radivoj Korać twice (in 1976 and 1977), and the mentioned three Triple Crowns. In 1989 and 1990 they played the McDonald's Championship finals, a memorable event when teams from the NBA met Europe for the first time.
Jugoplastika has yielded through history dozens of great players, first memorable generation was the one led by Petar Skansi and Rato Tvrdić, later came Damir Šolman, Željko Jerkov, Duje Krstulović, Ivica Dukan... But the ruling dynasty of the late eighties will be hard to top over in any club: Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, Žan Tabak, Velimir Perasović, Zoran Sretenović, Duško Ivanović, Zoran Savić, Goran Sobin... Later on came Nikola Vujičić, Roko Leni Ukić...
Some of them became true world legends, especially Toni Kukoč, who left a glowing trace in the NBA league, winning three championship rings for the Chicago Bulls, next to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and others. One ring from the NBA was also brought by Žan Tabak, playing for the Houston Rockets, and Dino Rađa was a member of the Boston Celtics.
Of course, all of them participated in the greatest achievements of the Yugoslavian and Croatian basketball, bringing to Split numerous medals from Olympic games , World and European Championships.
In the twenties of the 20th century Split was suddenly becoming a cosmopolitan city. Construction work was at its peak, the cultural life was thriving, newspapers were being published, and foundations were being made for what we call today "the city of sport". Hajduk was starting to win titles, Split became a swimming and rowing superpower, while at the same time some locals discovered that sailing could be done for fun and not only for fishing the lunch.
On the 24th of August 1924, from Matejuška to the Marjan suburbs Meje, the first sailing race took place with 23 sailing boats participating in it. Just a couple of months later a sailing club YC Labud was founded, existing to this day as one of the most important points of sport in Split.
Labud resides in the same house ever since the thirties, in the port of the Baluni bay below the cape Sustipan, counting its successes, organising races with some other clubs from Split (Mornar, Split, Zenta) keeping the spirit of sailing alive in Split. Today Mornar is even more successful than Labud by the number of medals, but the tradition started long ago by Žarko Dešković, with a couple of friends, cannot be erased. The successes of the Labud sailors are innumerable, hundreds of races have been won and nobody knows how many medals in national and international competitions.
Karlo Baumann from Labud was the first Croatian sailor at the Olympic games in Berlin in 1936, Karlo Kuret achieved the best ever success of Croatian sailing on the Olympic games, 4th place in Sydney, sailors from Labud, Minski Fabris, Ante Ivančić, Branko Širola, Karlo Kuret and others have won medals on European Championships, and the world champion, Tina Mihelić is keeping the flames burning today in the port on the west side of the city's harbour.
As much as Labud is renowned for its sport successes, it is also famous for the two greatest sailing holidays in Dalmatia. The Mrduja race is one of the oldest sailing races in Croatia, and one of the oldest sport competitions today, held for the first time in 1927, and grew to become the greatest sailing race on the Adriatic, 22 miles long with more than 300 sailing boats participating, from family sailing boats to Maxi yachts. It is not much younger than the Vis regatta or race, happening in October 2014 for the 70th time. Those two races are synonyms for sailing in Split, a sign of the connection existing between Split and sailing and of how much Labud is a part of the collective spirit of Split.
Rowing club VK Gusar
100 years of Gusar
There seems to be a secret connection between Split and Prague. Every small child in Split already knows what happened in 1911 at the pub At Flecks, but Prague conceived another Ace from Split - The Croatian Rowing Club Gusar.
In 1912 Prague was hosting a traditional race of three Prague clubs "Primatorska osma". Among many viewers of the race were a group of students from Split amongst which also Fabjan Kaliterna. While he watched with enthusiasm as the blades of the oars cut through the murky Vltava, Fabjan had an idea: We already have Hajduk, why shouldn't we establish a rowing club in Split? And what should it be called?
Well, naturally, Gusar (meaning pirate), as a marine counterpart to Hajduk. It was all Fabjan Kaliterna, Ivo Stralia, Josip Kodla and other Split enthusiasts could think about, spending hours after hours in the Prague Café "Sport" while planning the future of rowing in Split, and finally on the 5th of March 1914 an inaugural meeting was held and Dr Ivo Stalio was chosen for president.
100 years have passed since, and many beautiful (and some not so beautiful) things have happened during that period: starting on Matejuška, and later moving to their new built base in Spinut, from their first gold medal of an eight on the European championship in 1932, to the first Croatian Olympic gold for a four in Helsinki in 1952, and then the unlucky explosion and the destruction of the club base in 1992, and finally to the latest successes of Boraska, Franković, the Skelin brothers and many others...
Maybe more than medals and cups are the people who make Gusar, those who came from this club and left their mark in its mosaic, those who stuck by it as its great family and gained numerous sport and life values.
We can only wish to this favourable centenarian that its next one hundred years are at least half as successful as those preceding.
Generations of rowers have gone through Gusar giving their contribution to this club. Its history is written in sweat and determination of rowers, and not in pen and ink, therefore if something is missing let no one hold a grudge, instead let them point towards the flaw and we will gladly put things right...