LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Austria Vienna

Wiener derby still fiery but the limelight has faded

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Last crowned champions in 2013, Austria Vienna are the second most titled club in the domestic game behind age-old rivals Rapid.

Formed as the Amateure by members of the Vienna Cricket and Football Club in 1911, shortly before the first city derby, Austria gained their current name when the amateurs became professional in 1926.

Their first managers were Jimmy Hogan then Hugo Meisl, two of the most influential figures in the pre-war game. Austria had in their ranks a player from the Czech community of Favoriten, Matthias Sindelar, whose thin figure earned him the nickname of Der Papierene, the Man of Paper. A centre-forward of divine skills, Sindelar typified the clever passing game practised by Austria Vienna and Meisl’s national Wunderteam snuffed out by Italy in the mud of Milan in the World Cup semi-final of 1934.

After the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938, Sindelar refused to play for a combined side and died in mysterious circumstances a year later. Other players and officials with Jewish links fled.

Immediately after the war, Ernst Ocwirk arose as a creative centre-half, helping Austria win five titles either side of his stint in Serie A. In those days, Austria were pretty much nomadic, usually playing at Hohe Warte or the Prater. 

In 1973, the club moved into a permanent home, the former Slovan Wien stadium in Favoriten, Sindelar’s old stomping ground. Named after the head of the Viennese Football Association, Franz Horr, it has undergone several changes since and is currently being rebuilt. Until it reopens in 2018, Austria are based at the national Ernst-Happel-Stadion in the Prater Park.

The next great Austria side dominated the league from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, making the Cup-Winners’ Cup Final of 1978. Main stars were midfielders Herbert Prohaska and Hungarian Tibor Nyilasi, and strikers Walter Schachner and Toni Polster, while international goalkeeper Franz Wohlfahrt stayed with Austria for the three consecutive titles of the early 1990s.

The contemporary era has been marked by the involvement of Austro-Canadian Frank Stronach, a car-parts billionaire, who took over Austria in 1999, changing the club name to feature both his own company and a cigarette sponsor. 

Managers – including Prohaska, Schachner and Joachim Löw – came and went, players arrived in droves from across Eastern Europe, and two titles came to the Favoriten.

Stronach left to set up his own doomed FC Magna, and Austria Vienna reverted to their old name.

Strikers Philipp Hosiner and Tomas Jun led the Violets to a rare league title in 2013, a high-scoring campaign that opened the door to the Champions League. Finishing bottom of a group that included Atlético Madrid, Porto and Zenit St Petersburg, Austria Vienna fared better in subsequent Europa League campaigns, making the group stages for high-profile clashes with Roma and Milan.

Despite the boost of a renovated stadium, opened in 2018, European form then dipped catastrophically, with defeats to Apollon Limassol of Cyprus and Breidablik of Iceland ending campaigns. A solitary draw with Lech Poznan produced the club’s only point in their Conference League group of 2022-23.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Originally named after former Vienna FA president, Franz Horr, Austria’s home ground started life as the home ground of Slovan Vienna, serving the substantial Czech community of surrounding Favoriten. Among their number were legendary goalscorer Josef ‘Pepi’ Bican, who started his career here, and Matthias Sindelar, who joined Austria Vienna.

The Violets had been playing at the WAC Platz in the Prater and Ober Sankt Veit in Hietzing, with major fixtures staged at the newly opened Praterstadion. After the war, Austria remained rootless, playing their home fixtures at the Hohe Warte or Prater, among other venues.

Severely damaged by Allied bombing, the ground at Favoriten became a speedway track before another District 10 club, FC Wien (formerly SC Nicholson), moved in. The liquidation of FC Wien in 1973 allowed prominent football administrator (and MP) Franz Horr to persuade Austria Vienna to set up camp there for the 1973-74 season. Horr died suddenly during the winter break, and the stadium immediately bore his name.

The compact, four-sided ground, fringed by the main A23 trunk road, has been expanded and modernised since Horr’s day. The Südtribüne was renamed the Matthias Sindelar-Tribüne, and the whole stadium the Generali-Arena after its sponsors.

In the summer of 2016, the stadium closed for a €42 million renovation, and reopened in 2018. Capacity is now 17,500, reduced to 15,500 for European fixtures.

The entrance for away fans, Gäste, is clearly signposted in the north-west corner of the stadium, right over the main road. Visiting supporters are allocated sectors 144-147 in the lower tier and upper 228-232 between the sideline Nordtribüne and Westtribüne behind the opposite goal to the home end, the Osttribüne. The press box is in the Südtribüne.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

In 2017, the red U1 U-Bahn line was extended to include Altes Landgut so now you can zip directly from the central hub of Karlsplatz in eight minutes. It stops at Südtiroler Platz-Hauptbahnhof on the way, so if you’re coming into the main train station and need to head down to Austria Vienna straight away, it’s five minutes.

Once you arrive at Altes Landgut, choose the stadium exit and you’ll see the Generali-Arena to your left as you emerge above ground. Just cross over the main road to reach it.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Advance tickets are sold at the Get Violett megastore (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-1pm) behind the Osttribüne and online. By the club store, ticket windows operate on match days.

For league fixtures, prices are set around €15 with a €4-€6 increase for top games against Rapid, Salzburg and Sturm Graz.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

For the time being, the Get Violett megastore (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-1pm) remains open behind the Osttribüne, offering violet-coloured digital cameras, branded men’s perfumes, barbecue sets and toasters. It also provides access to the club museum.

Museum & Tours

Explore the clubs inside and out

Opened in 2009 with the revamping of the home Osttribüne, the FK Austria Wien Museum (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-1pm; €4/€3) remains in business for as long as the club shop does. In it, you’ll find  a memorial room to Hugo Meisl with original artefacts from his flat in Karl-Marx-Hof, as well as a display of pre-war branded goodies that illustrate the star-like popularity of Matthias Sindelar. Note also the photo of Dr Emanuel Schwarz, club president either side of the war, the man who brought Sindelar to Austria Vienna.

There are also combined stadium tour and museum tickets (€15, €12 reduced, €5 under-15s, free under-6s) although these are for groups of ten and over, and tours are only given in German.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Austria have a rather plain fans’ bar in town, the Café Violet on Schlachthausgasse between the U-Bahn station of the same name and the river.

There’s little choice around the ground – the only bar close to Altes Landgut U-Bahn station is Café City X (Favoritenstraße 213), a basic spot for beer and standard Austrian food.

At the stadium, the Viola Sportsbar by the club shop operates on the first floor. This large, two-area bar-restaurant is also open during the week, with flat-screen TVs on every pillar. One row of windows overlooks the training pitch, the other the stadium itself. Puntigamer beer, also offered in huts around the ground, is complemented by Viola Klassiker dishes such as Wiener Schnitzel and Viola burgers with ‘everything on it’. There’s also a daily menu with or without soup. 

On match days, it’s officially for home fans only but friendly neutrals should be accommodated without too many problems.

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