Three Stadium Hops Amongst Austria’s Lower Leagues
Journal Entry 14
Football in Austria
Stadium hopping, I’ve missed you so much! The COVID-19 pandemic made me realise even more how important the supporters are for any football club, especially those that frequent the stadium week in week out. Even the players show it, some of them forgetting to celebrate after scoring – because hey, who to celebrate for if not the hardcore fans?
Austria has been one of the first countries allowing fans back into stadiums. This was indeed one of my secret reasons why I was so pumped to come here, being a great opportunity to get back to an activity which I truly loved.
The two major football clubs in Vienna are undoubtedly SK Rapid Wien and FK Austria Wien. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, both teams were impossible to watch as a very little number of supporters were being allowed at the time – so little, that not even all season ticket holders managed to secure a seat in the stadium.
Nonetheless, football in Austria is not just made of the big guns. I was still curious to roam a bit around the lower leagues, and this is what I managed within the last three weeks!
Austrian Landesliga (4th Division)
Date: 4th September 2020
Teams: SC Mannsworth vs FC Stadlau | 3-5
Stadium: Sportplatz Mannsworth
Imagine arriving in Vienna on a fine day in the afternoon, exhausted after three travel days. What would be the first thing you’d do? Well, maybe take a shower, take a nap on a comfortable bed or maybe chill for the rest of the day. That’s what Charlotte had in mind, however, for myself, I had quite a different plan.
As we arrived at our lovely accommodation for the next few nights, I dumped the bags quickly inside, freshened up and ran straight back out for the first stadium hop post COVID-19. The closest match I could get to on that Friday night was in Mannswörth, a small village very close to Vienna international airport.
Getting to Sportplatz Mannsworth
Getting there was no easy task, as the closest train stop was the Mannswörth Bahnhof, situated at the very tip of the village. From there, getting to the football pitch required a 30-minute walk, practically crossing through all the village.
Okay, so my stadium hop didn’t go as I planned it. It was my first time experimenting with public transport, and unfortunately for me, I ended up boarding the wrong train. Well, not exactly the wrong train. It was indeed the right number, however, going in the wrong direction. My mistake costed me to miss the first half of the game – not exactly the start I was looking for.
Anyways, Sportplatz Mannswörth turned out to be quite the venue. It’s very similar to Sportpark Het Achterveen in the Netherlands, where stadium seats are minimal around the pitch. Not only that, but the pitch is also visible from outside the ground’s premises, as just a fence separates it from the road. Most supporters opt to either stand or else just sit on the grass. The atmosphere is as local as it gets, calm and peaceful at most times.
Austrian Regionalliga Ost (3rd Division)
Date: 15th September 2020
Teams: Wiener SC vs Mannsdorf-Grossenzersdorf | 2-1
Stadium: Sportklub Stadium
The next stadium hop sees us climbing up one division to the Austrian Regionalliga Ost. Wiener SC enjoyed a successful spell of football in the past, playing amongst Austria’s elites. Perhaps, the most impressive and remarkable result was a 7-0 win against Juventus in the European Champions Cup.
Bankruptcies were the issues of the club slipping down into the ladders. Stepping into their stadium gives you the immediate feeling that this was no ordinary lower league club, mainly because of its set of supporters.
Getting to Sportklub Stadium
The stadium is located on the western side of the city, around 6km from the centre. Tram number 2 seems to be the most straightforward solution, stopping at Dornbach station.
Stepping into the stadium will immediately show you that this team does not belong in the third division. Although many COVID-19 restrictions, people showed up in numbers to support their team throughout this period. Something interesting we’ve noticed happened mainly during attacking corner kicks, where home supporters take out their keys and start jingling them until either they score or the ball goes out. It’s like they’re trying to cast a magic spell.
The ‘behind the goal’ section cheered for the team as if there ware thousands of ultras present, which really lifted up the atmosphere and at times we completely forgot we were watching a third division match!
2. Liga (2nd Division)
Date: 30th September 2020
Teams: Floridsdorfer AC vs Kapfenberger SV | 4-0
Stadium: Job Consulting Arena
Floridsdorf is the Viennese (21st) district we’ve been living at for the past 3 weeks and a half. It’s on the outskirts of the city, although very well connected to the centre. We couldn’t just leave without having a look at what the team looks like, and boy we were impressed!
The club was founded back in 1904 by a group of teenagers in the area. Their first official match was recorded in 1905 against Liverpool Fc – no, not the English giants but a Viennese team in this case. The team did really well in the early stages, winning the Austrian national championship in 1918. They could even go all the way and win the double, however a bizarre situation stole their cup title away from them.
So, the game was to be played against the Viennese amateur sports club. On the original date of the cup final, both teams agreed to postpone the match due to a heavy storm. They played the game a week later, with Floridsdorfer emerging victorious 4-3. Albeit this, they were not handed the cup for their efforts as none of the teams have tried to obtain consent from the association to postpone the original match. Bizarre!
Through various team mergers, Floridsdorfer AC managed to keep themselves amongst the top three divisions in Austria. The last few years have been literally a roller coaster for the team, at times very lucky as well! The team finished the 2014/15 season in last place, with only 17 points from 36 games. They managed to avoid relegation thanks to SV Austria Salzburg, which were relegated instead due to financial issues.
They’ve thankfully recovered from that period, and after watching them play this game against Kapfenberger SV, we honestly believe they are capable to go all the way to the Bundesliga. The team was dominant all throughout the game, and showed some football which is surely worthy of the Austrian top flight!
Getting to the Job Consulting Arena
Local COVID-19 restrictions only permitted 250 supporters inside the stadium, and with a turnout of 248, we felt rather lucky to be part of the crowd. To be completely honest, it wasn’t the most exciting atmosphere we experienced. There were only a handful of supporters cheering for the team, with the others relatively quiet throughout the game. It’s a real shame as for the level of football showcased, the team deserved a lot better!
Regarding the seat selection, our opinion is to avoid the behind the goal section. The seats are not elevated enough, with the goal obstructing the majority of the view.