Vienna Derby – Rapid v FK Austria Wien

With beautiful historic palaces, and some of the largest secular Baroque buildings in Europe, Vienna has its fair share of architectural jewels.

Administratively divided into 23 Bezirke (districts) at its core is district I – the Inner Stadt, which contains most of the city’s famous structures.

Surrounding the heart of the city is the Ringstrasse a circular road lined with grand imperial buildings, monuments, and parks. Beyond the Ring are the inner districts which contain many palaces, churches and foreign embassies.

You have to go a little further out from the grand interiors to find real footballing royalty.

Out in the 14th district of Penzing is the locality Hütteldorf where the Gerhard Hanappi Stadion was as its known today the Allianz Stadion or ‘Weststadion’.

Together with FK Austria these two form into being the royal family of Austrian football. The two sides are the most successful and dominant in the country, with more national titles and cups between them than any other Austrian Bundesliga club.

The first meeting between the clubs was in 1911 when Rapid beat FK Austria 4-1.

In total over 300 competitive games have been played with Rapid the victorious team on most occasions.

The fixture is the most played city derby in Europe after the Old Firm in Glasgow and the Edinburgh derby between Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian.

The cultural rivalry between the two clubs can best be described as fierce and deeply felt.

The locality of the support today cannot be described along geographical divides given the growth and depth of urban and suburban area in Vienna. Essentially both clubs have fans that are spread throughout the city and indeed across the whole of Austria. Class has been cited as a traditional means of support with Rapid being supported by the working classes (while Austria were the team of the bourgeois of Vienna) but this is also blurred and an outdated perception.

The colors of both clubs are however long standing and distinct – Green vs. Violet.

Essentially while FK Austria Vienna traditionally are referred to as ‘Austria’ the club have changed names on a number of occasions from FK Austria to WAC, to Austria Memphis Magna and back to FK Austria Wien.

Rapid Vienna meanwhile tend to get referred to as simply ‘Rapid’ and namely the derby is a case of a ‘Rapid’ v ‘Austria’ face off.

On a warm Sunday afternoon in west Vienna these two side met again in a crucial fixture as the race to avoid the bottom six relegation round gathered pace.

Essentially Red Bull Salzburg and Sturm Graz are so far ahead in this season’s Austrian Bundesliga (and Austria Lustenau so far adrift in relegation place) that only European places are at stake for the Vienna rivals.

Curiously even if a seventh place is gained by Austria Vienna at the end of the relegation round a UEFA Conference League play off round berth can still be earned such is the way the Bundesliga has been organized by the OFB.

The teams emerged to some of the most vivid colors you will find anywhere in Europe – violet, green, red, blue, white made the Allianz Stadion a staggeringly beautiful place to be on a Sunday afternoon.

No sooner had the dust settled on the early choreographies than Matthias Seidl gave Rapid the lead.

Then not two minutes later Bugstaller made it 2-0 to the home side smashing home after another pacy attack into the Austria half.

Just before half-time it was 3-0 to Rapid with Marco Grull striking and the game was over as a contest.

The second half was though far from a non-event.

The visiting fans remained where they were giving Austria a brand of unending support from 46th minute until the final whistle and how they failed to get a goal is unknown.

Just at the final whistle emotions ran over with some Rapid fans running onto the track to try and get at Austria fans but it was over very quickly such is the depth of experience the police have in controlling the behavior of the two opposing sets of fans.

The Vienna derby is another in a curious set of derby matches in Europe.

About as far from the high culture of the Austrian capital as you can get these two club sides are far from a side show in Vienna. They are though a peripheral side show to what people most come to Vienna for in terms of culture.

FT: Rapid 3 vs. Austria FK 0

Sunday 25th February 2024

Allianz Stadium, Austria Bundesliga