Austria Vienna 1 Rapid Vienna 1 (07/08/2002)
Vienna probably is a lovely city. Sadly it didn’t really agree with me. For a start, it hammered down with rain, and few cities are best observed from under an umbrella, let alone ducking from doorway to doorway as I had to do. There was a nice cathedral, but my memory of it is somewhat clouded by an unfortunate incident in the foyer (or whatever such a place is called in a cathedral). Waiting for the rain to ease, while stood in the doorway, I misjudged a supposedly silent “escape of gas” from my person, and its echoes in the stone vestibule left me with no option but to venture out into the rain, putting a hand out as if to say I thought it had stopped. They may have not heard me behind, but I couldn’t face turning to check.
I had already also embarrassed myself at my hotel, struggling to open a sliding door that I’d somehow not noticed was already open. Clearly I was at my suave best, although the hotel had earlier embarrassed itself in my eyes, at least, by insisting that my request that they pre-purchase a ticket for the Austria Vienna v Rapid Vienna derby was completely unnecessary. Naturally enough, I arrived at the ground to find no tickets on sale. Luckily, within about a minute of walking round with some obvious cash in my hand, a tap on the shoulder has someone offering me a ticket. It turned out to be a child’s tickets, but luckily nobody was checking.
The ground itself reminded me a bit of Swindon’s County ground, albeit decked out in purple rather than red, and not quite as shabby. The stands themselves are also much nearer in height to each other, but still with one open seated end behind one goal. If it was a modern English ground it would probably be called dull, but somehow it seemed ok. I recall one end was still terracing at the time – this was a long time ago – and my camera back then was so terrible that my photos weren’t so much grainy as shingle-like, so it’s hard to be sure, but I think it was, improving the atmosphere and ambience.
Despite it being less than amazing, I quite liked the venue, and I must have quite enjoyed the game – despite remembering almost nothing about it – as I recall finding a nice pub afterwards and feeling much more positive about Vienna overall. The game was a 1-1 draw, marked with a late-ish equaliser, I think for the home side.
I also had a look at a few other grounds while I was in the city. Wet grey skies ruined a trip out to the Prater Stadium, as it was then called, making it look a very wet and depressing place.
Rapid Vienna’s place, again viewed through a wet gloom, just ached with 1970s dullness. It probably didn’t help that the roof was being replaced, but the beige and blue/grey colour scheme of the seats gave it a rather anaemic look.
Sadder was a visit to the ground of First FC Vienna. The club was at something of a low ebb, in the regional third division, and the ground looked like the club had given up the fight. An outdated but interesting main stand, with vaulted roof sections drooping down like a string of sagging tents, filled one side. The ends, a long way from the pitch, were little more than derelict ex-terracing.
The overpowering part was the other side. This side, once a terrace, was a giant hill. The ground once held 85000, and probably around 60,000 would have watched from this hill. These days it’s a grassy hill again, with just an untidy lower section in the middle given over to the stumpy remains of bench seating. With American Football posts hinting at desperation for income behind both goals, it’s almost impossible to imagine the place hosting anything other than amateur football. suprisingly though, the club has since recovered to take a place in Austria’s second tier. A rise back to their former top division place is possible I suppose, although I won’t hold my breath waiting for another 85000 to fill the place.
Apoligies for the poor – nay appalling – quality of the pictures. My camera was a pigeon-step up from a disposable one.