The club was founded in the famous, centuries old pub U Fleků in Prague (then also a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) by a group of students from Split (Fabijan Kaliterna, Lucijan Stella, Ivan Šakić and Vjekoslav Ivanišević). They attended to the pub following a match between Sparta and Slavia and decided it was time their own town founded its professional club. They all knew how popular the sport was in Split (their home), and how well their friends there played.
The club was officially registered with the authorities on February 13, 1911. The name originates from the hajduks, romanticized bandits that fought the Ottoman Turks. The founders subsequently designed the club's emblem, and a group of Catholic nuns from a monastery in Split created copies which were distributed to fans.
Hajduk gathered the pro-Croat party of citizens of Split, Croat unionists or puntari. That is why the club specifically has the name "hrvatski nogometni klub" (Croatian football club) and has the Croatian coat-of-arms in its logo. The club itself was against the Austro-Hungarian government's policy of not allowing the unification of Croatian provinces and keeping them separated (the government and the emperor did not allow the reunion of Dalmatia with the rest of Croatia). Hajduk reached its first period of glory in the late twenties, when it won two Yugoslav championships, breaking the domination of clubs from Belgrade and Zagreb. Particularly interesting is the club's war episode. After the Italian occupation of Split during World War II, the club ceased to compete in defiance, and declined an offer to join the Italian first division. In 1944, the team and staff clandestinely joined the Yugoslav partisans on the island Vis and continued to play as an official partisan army team. After the war, the partisan leader and later president of Yugoslavia, Tito, (impressed by the club's proficency and its unique Dalmatian spirit) invited Hajduk to move to Belgrade and become an official army team. But, Hajduk's players refused this lucrative offer and continued playing in their hometown. The club, however, continued to be Tito's favorite long after the war. Hajduk had its best years in the 1970s. The so-called "zlatna generacija" (Golden Generation) won five consecutive cups and three championships in the 1972 to 1979 period. It was the second most successful club in Yugoslavia far outstripping the third, its present day rival, Dinamo Zagreb. In the summer of 1991, Hajduk restored its traditional emblem including the Croatian chequy and removing the red star from it.
The Hajduk kit is white shirt and blue shorts.
Hajduk is famous for its youth school. It is one of the most prolific producers of high quality footballers which often continue careers in famous European teams. Some of Hajduk's former players include: Alen Bokšić (ex Juventus, Lazio, Middlesbrough), Robert Jarni (ex Juventus, Betis, Real Madrid), Slaven Bilić (ex Karlsruhe, Everton), Igor Štimac (ex West Ham, Derby County), Milan Rapaić (Perugia, Fenerbahçe, Standard Liege), Igor Tudor (Juventus), Ivica Šurjak (ex Paris SG), Luka Peruzović (ex Anderlecht), Aljoša Asanović (ex Derby County, PAO), Ivan Buljan (ex Hamburger SV) and Zlatko Vujović (ex Bordeaux).
When the Croatian national team won third place at the 1998 World Cup in France, amongst the first 11, there were 5 former Hajduk players.
Since 1979, Hajduk plays at the Poljud stadium. It was built by the Yugoslavian federal government for the 1979 Mediterranean games that were held in Split. Thanks to lavish federal funding, the stadium is quite impressive, not so much in size (though it is large) as it is in architecture, having one of the most distinctive and beautiful designs in the world at the time of its construction.
Before that, Hajduk played its games at the "Kod stare plinare" stadium ("By the old gas facility"), also known as "Stari plac" ("Old Square") or "Staro Hajdukovo" ("Old Hajduk's"). Before the transformation that area into the football pitch, the area was known as "Kraljeva njiva" ("King's Field") and it was part of a military camp.
The fans are called Torcida (since 1950) as they took their name after their idolized Brazilian fan groups, which are named torcidas, from the Portuguese 'torcer', to cheer on. Supporters popularly call the players of Hajduk bili (dialect for 'bijeli', plural form of white) and are the oldest organized supporters' group in Europe.
Hajduk is by far the most popular sport team in the Croatian region of Dalmatia. Hajduk also has a strong fan base throughout the rest of Croatia, especially in littoral areas, as well as in Slavonia. Hajduk is also a very important part of the region's identity.
In the former Yugoslavia, Hajduk was the team that had supporters all over the country, among all national and religious communities (not only among the Croats); no other club achieved that. It is important to mention the big popularity of Hajduk among Albanians in socialist Yugoslavia, especially in Kosovo, where the popularity of Hajduk can be compared with that in Dalmatia.
Outside of Croatia, Hajduk also has many supporters throughout the rest of the world. It is said that Hajduk has never played a single game anywhere in the world without at least a small group of Torcida in the stands. Countries with huge fan clubs membership include Brazil, Chile New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada - mostly countries with significant Croat immigration from Dalmatia.
Trivia: in the season 2001, Goran Ivanišević was registered for Hajduk as player.