WIENER DERBY

It’s been called the clash of the classes – the workers club (Rapid) against the middle class sports society (Austria Vienna). For others it is a clash of playing styles – the fluid gentlemen footballers against the aggressive artisans. The class differences, of course, may now be overstated and the stereotype just that.

But whatever the label this game is a classic us versus them fixture. And in this occurrence of the derby the large flag in front of the Rapid fans said it all – Wir für euchIhr für unsWir gegen die!

The Vienna derby is one of Europe’s longest standing traditional games almost as old as the Old Firm and the Edinburgh derby. The first meeting between the clubs happened on 8th September 1911 when Rapid beat Austria 4-1. Today however it would turn out somewhat different.

Rapid Vienna v Austria Vienna

Weststadion / Allianz Stadion

Saturday 9th October 2022

Austrian Bundesliga

Until the arrival of RB Salzburg, its fair to say Rapid Vienna were Austrian football’s main player. Despite financial turmoil in the 90’s the club have fought to maintain a position – if not at Europe’s main table of the Champions League – at least an appearance in the Europa League every couple of seasons.

The original club name hints at the working class background. 1. Wiener Arbeiter Fussballklub were founded in 1898 by factory worker whom changed the name to ‘Rapid’ before the end of the century.

Despite the fashionable Admira Wacker and First Vienna the matches against Austria Vienna quickly turned into the most fashionable Vienna derby clash. Initially formed as a cricket and sports society Austria Vienna or the violetten were the chief providers of the bulk of Austrian football’s first great team – the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930’s.

By the 1930’s, at least in club terms, both FK Austria and Rapid were major European players. Each can point to winning the Mitropa Cup (La Coupe de l’Europe Centrale) twice. In the post war period both were known as proponents of a fluid passing style perfectly positioning both as the financial opportunities of pan European competition (not just central Europe) began to loom on the horizon.

If the 1950’s and 1960’s were the glory years for Hungarian football the same could not be said for neighbouring Austria. The OFB withdrew from the 1962 tournament in Chile and the team then failed to qualify until Argentina 1978. By then the Austrian national team had the likes of Herbert Prohaska and Freidl Knocilia from FK Austria playing for them. Likewise from Rapid the emerging Hans Krankl would be the figure who would lead Austrian football and Rapid back into another golden era.

Weststadion

Both the Gerhard Hanappi and the Franz Horr Stadiums remained immune to major reconstruction work until 2015. The limitations of both were highlighted when Austria and Switzerland were awarded UEFA Euro 2008 but neither were chosen as a host venue for the tournament.

Even with major structural change the Generali Stadium of Austria Vienna remains a humble venue. Even throughout the 90’s major games of FK Austria were played at the Prater Wiener Stadion a venue the club called home long before the arrival of the Franz Horr.

Between 2016 and 2018 the East, West and North stands were completely reconstructed as two-tier stands. Even with these modifications, the stadium’s maximum capacity still sits at only 17,600 indicating the numbers of fans who follow the club.

The home of Austria Vienna is also not ideally placed for visitors. Looking like a stranded hilltop venue in between busy motorway intersection points near the Altes Landgut U-bahn station it can be a frustrating place to visit. Rapid fans would reference its location as grim and while things have improved appearance wise – and to violet fans it is home even if it is drab to the outsider – the setting for the Generali can best be described humble and far from elitist.

Like FK Austria, Rapid did not move into its current home until the 1970’s. The old fashioned Pfarrwiese or Rapid Platz Stadium in Hutteldorf was replaced by the Gerhard Hanappi Stadion; a stadium designed by a former player who had an illustrious 15 year career with the club.

Today it is popularly known by the name by which it was christened, namely Weststadion. The Gerhard Hanappi title was only chosen after the architect himself died in 1981 and a decision was made to rename the stadium in his honour.

It was opened in 1977 with a game against who else but Austria Vienna. And if the Franz Horr was known for its humble often grim location between motorway intersection points then the Gerhard Hanappi was know for its distinct practical architectural styles and unique design.

Demolition of the old Hanappi stadium began in early October 2014, after a ceremonial farewell. All that is left of the old Gerhard Hanappi is one of the old floodlights, distinctive for its tubular tall mast. The pedestrian area outside of the new Allianz Stadium meanwhile is known as Gerhard Hanappi Platz.

The Allianz ground today is modern, atmospheric and still a proper football fans venue. The old Gerhard Hanappi (as would indicate by its non-involvement in Euro 2008) was simply long out of date and not fit for purpose.

The Derby

The 5pm kick off on the Sunday evening scheduling was in some way due to what happened in Germany the previous day. Namely there is no point pitching the Vienna derby on live TV Saturday evening at the same time as Bayern Munich are playing Borussia Dortmund.

Such is the popularity of the German Bundesliga in Austria it was only right Austrian football’s biggest game was played when all the games in German Bundesliga had been and gone for the week.

Live television didn’t lessen the interest in the game. With a 28,000 capacity a crowd of 26,500 gathered to see the meeting of these two in western Vienna.

The main gaps in the stadium were related to the segregation point between the two sets of rival fans. Numerous items of pyrotechnics were thrown from the visiting fans area into the Rapid end making those areas immediately adjacent to the visiting hoards perhaps the least appealing of the match tickets available.

The singing between the two sets of fans started long before kick off as did the smoke bombs and chants. Not a single player had appeared for a warm up yet the two sets of fans were shouting insults at each other.

Kick off saw colour card displays and smoke bombs – green, while, violet, white and black. But not four minutes had been played when Muharem Huskovic gave the visiting team the lead. A neat inter-passage of play saw the forward wheel away allowing even more smoke bombs and celebrations in the visiting end.

On 16 Minutes FK Austria went 2-0 up on the night after referee Manuel Schüttengruber awarded a penalty for a foul in the Rapid box. It was checked via VAR but stood and smashed home by Fitz much to the anger and disbelief of the home fans.

HT: 0-2

The second period started with flares and more smoke bombs. Rapid Vienna – in response to what can only be described as a disaster of a first half – made every effort to get back into things. This new found energy was however snuffed out when a penalty awarded by Schüttengruber was overturned by another VAR review.

The shoulders dipped on nearly every Rapid player and with Fruchtl in the Austria goal looking unbeatable the clocked ticked away through to injury time.

A final additional burst of hope came the way of Rapid just one minute into additional time. Ante Bajic scored for Rapid but it proved to be nothing more than just a consolation and an equaliser was never really in scope nor deserved.

Austria Vienna celebrated the win for a good 8 minutes after the final whistle. Wins in enemy territory are often the sweetest but such is the familiarity of the two this is a rivalry that will happen again – most probably with a different result come March 2023.

You can view the whole album of Vienna Derby images here.

FT: 1-2

Rapid Vienna: Hedl; Kerschbaum, Burgstaller, Pejic, Sollbauer; Auer, Grull, Koscelnik; Querfeld, Zimmermann, Drujf. Subs ON: Bajic, Knasmuller, Schick, Greil, Hofmann

Austria Vienna: Fruchtl; Muhl, Gruber, Huskovic, Galvao; Fischer, Ranftl, Braunoder; Jukic, Martins, Fitz Subs ON: Tabakovic, Polster, Teigl, Meisl

Schiedsrichter: M.Schüttengruber