Come on you boys in green!

November 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm 1 comment

On Thursday evening Rapid Vienna will play its second Europa League home game (against CSKA Sofia) – again in front of a full Ernst Happel Stadium packed with 50,000 fans.

Rapid Vienna’s own ground, the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium, is too small for big international games and therefore the club has had to move to the “Ernst Happel” for their Europa League games. The ground former called “Praterstadion” (left) was built in 1930 and had a capacity of more than 90,000 spectators after having been developed in the fifties. At this time Rapid beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the first game in the new stadium and later the Austrian national team beat Spain 3-0 and the Soviet Union 3-1 in front of a record crowd of 90,726.

My favourite games
Later the capacity was reduced to 70,000 due to installing seats instead of terraces, but the upper stands remained without seats until 1986 when the stadium got a roof and was made an all-seater. Still one of my favourite games there is a World Cup qualifier against the German Democratic Republic in 1976 when 70,000 seemed to be able to cheer Austria to victory, but the goal that was meant to be the 2-1 for Austria was disallowed by a crazy referee from Wales, Mr. Reynolds. Austria’s goalgetter Hans Krankl who lost his head was red-carded and Austria had to be happy with a 1-1. Nevertheless Austria was able to qualify after another draw away against GDR and an away win against Turkey, and at the finals in Argentina they famously beat Germany 3-2. Hans Krankl scored two goals, Austria went crazy and the famous goalgetter was transferred from Rapid Vienna to Barcelona after the World Cup where he was named “goleador” and helped Barcelona win their first European Cup trophy.

When the “Praterstadion” was reopened after having got a roof in 1986, 55,000 were able to celebrate another victory against Austria’s old foes Germany: this time Austria won 4-1. In 1993 the ground was renamed after the famous Austrian and Rapid player and manager Ernst Happel who had died the year before. In 2008 the EURO final took place in the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna which now holds approximately 50,000 fans. Austria’s 1-1 in the group stage against Poland is one of my other favourite games having been played there, but above all stands a lot of famous Rapid victories, the latest of them a 3-0 against Hamburger SV in the Europa League last year.

Tremendous atmosphere
Though the “Ernst Happel” has a running track and hence isn’t really loved by the Rapid supporters who prefer to watch their team in their own ground, the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium in Vienna’s fourteenth district Hütteldorf, the atmosphere at Rapid’s international games always is tremendous (right: “choreo” before kick-off; Rapid v Besiktas). The “Happel Stadium” was virtually sold out within less than a week from the start of selling Europa League three-games-tickets, and it took me and a friend almost five hours of queuing up to get hold of the much-demanded tickets for Rapid’s home games against Besiktas Istanbul, Sofia and Porto.

I’m sure the atmosphere on Thursday evening will be great again despite of the running track around the pitch and despite of Rapid’s weak league performances in the last weeks. Rapid’s skipper Steffen Hofmann as well as Dutch forward Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, a former Celtic and Hull City player, will miss the game because of injuries. Two weeks ago Rapid beat CSKA 2-0 in Sofia when both Hofmann and VoH scored, but now the Bulgarian side arrives with a new coach and two back-to-back victories.

Come on you boys in green!
I’m looking forward to an interesting evening, being part of one of the greatest support throughout Europe. After having eliminated Aston Villa Rapid has lost its first two Europa League games, but now after the 2-0 away against CSKA they are back to winning ways. If the Green-Whites keep their nerves they will be able to beat CSKA Sofia again and keep their chance of making the next round of the Europa League! “Come on you boys in green!”

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Entry filed under: Austrian, Europe, Rapid.

Rapid v Besiktas: Die Choreographie “Rapid kennt man überall in Europa”

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