Torcida Split: The Oldest Ultras Group in Europe Still Supports Hadjuk Today

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Torcida
Mark Ahsmann / CC BY-SA

Founded in 1950, Torcida Split is an HNK Hajduk Split supporters group that has defied time and is still a strong force to reckon with. Hadjuk Split Torcida is the oldest Ultra group in Europe.

Hadjuk Split Torcida: Pioneers of Ultras Culture

In 2011, there was an unusual sight. Viewing the earth from space would have given you a rare sight. Thousands of flares lit up the night sky as the Torcida put up a show. The club was celebrating 100 years and they did it in style.

Hadjuk Split Torcida is the oldest ultras group in Europe. Moreover, they are among the most passionate.

Sailors from the island of Korcula, Yugoslavia embarked on a journey in 1950. They attended a ceremony known as Maracanazo in Brazil; the Maracana Blow. In this game, Uruguay’s Alcides Ghiggia humbled Brazil at home and dimmed their chances of winning their first World Cup. This secured them their second title.

However, the sailors came out amazed and in full admiration of the over 200,000 strong crowds at the ground. This was enough motivation for them to form the Torcida. This is name comes from the Brazilian Portuguese word for supporters.

When the sailors went back home, they formed their own firm just a day before Hadjuk Split’s game against rivals Red Star. They managed to spank Red Star 2-1 and finish the entire season unbeaten. What’s more, this win in front of a 20,000 crowd gave birth to the Torcida.

However, this win did not go down well with the authorities, who were pro Red Star at that time. The Yugoslavian authorities clamped down on the Torcida and its die-hard members.

Vjenceslav Zuvela, who was a die-hard member and founder was ultimately expelled from the communist party and thrown in jail. The Torcida’s name was banned everywhere.

Torcida Split

However, they couldn’t be silenced forever. The Torcida came back to life. Their support catapulted Hadjuk as they enjoyed a period of success in the 1970s.

A new generation of Torcida Split members joined the camp as their voices continued to echo around the country and across Europe.

The club won four championships during this period of renaissance.

A New Breed of Fans

A new generation of Hadjuk Split supporters took over and improved the atmosphere. They reinvigorated the Torcida’s name, coming up with new chants, tifos, and flags. Additionally, they took over the north stand in the new Poljud Stadium.

In the war that followed between 1991 to 1995, many soldiers were united at the war front by the Torcida bond. Up to this day, the ultras culture in Croatia is heavily influenced by the Hadjuk Torcida Split’s efforts.

Rivalry: Eternal Derby

Torcida Split shares a deep-rooted rivalry with the Dinamo Zagreb ultras. This rivalry can be traced back to the 1920s. However, it was supercharged in 1992. This was during the first league campaign in Croatia after they split from the Yugoslavian Republic the previous year.

Hadjuk and Dinamo are the biggest clubs in the country and were once part of the Big Four of Yugoslavia. The other two were Serbian side Partizan Belgrade and Red Star.

Croatia is mostly centralized and many people move to the capital for education as well as work. Dinamo comes from the capital while Split on comes from the Adriatic coast. They feel ignored and this is one reason why they always make their feelings felt whenever these two giants meet.

Fight Against Mismanagement

Torcida
Chivista / CC BY-SA

Even though the Torcida Split and the Blue Boys from Zagreb don’t see eye to eye, they came together in 2013 to protest mismanagement by the football authorities.

They stood together on the same stands for two matches. Additionally, they marched together through the streets of Zagreb for a common goal.

Friendly Ultras

Torcida Split Ultras

Even though they are not so friendly with various ultras, Torcida Split foster an understanding with Benfica’s No Name Ultras.

The friendship was born during Croatia’s war for independence. No Name erected a banner during a game that had the words ‘Freedom for Croatia’. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hadjuk is Love for Torcida

Hadjuk is a way of life for the Torcida Split. Most of their fans used to be shipbuilders. However, the industry fizzled out and the city now heavily relies on tourism. With increased tourism, their culture and way of life have been slowly eroded. The only thing that they identify with is the club.

Hadjuk is the antidote, it’s their religion, and a social institution that they hold dear to their hearts. The people of Split own the club.

Individual families hold close to 25% of shares and pass them down to new generations across the family. The Torcida remains the oldest organised supporters’ club in Europe.

Torcida Split: A Blueprint for Ultras

Hadjuk’s brand of ardent supporters is an inspiration to many groups of ultras across Europe.

As the oldest ultras group, they were pioneers for the movement. Today, they are the oldest active ultras group and still represent their city and colours wherever they go.

Midfielder @ Hooligan F.C.

Donald Maloba is a Kenyan football writer and former football player. He eats, sleeps, and breathes football. He supports AFC Leopards.

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