Friday, August 14, 2009

Club focus -- Rapid Wien

Rapid Wien or Sport Klub Rapid Wien, or Rapid Vienna, as they are known in English provide the opponents for Villa next Thursday in the play off for the Europa League. Let's hope Martin is going to take it seriously.

Rapid Wien play at the Gerhard Hannapi stadium in a picturesque area of Vienna, if there was any part of the city that isn't picturesque. Gerhard Hannapi himself was a midfielder who started his career at Wacker Wien, but went on to play for Rapid from 1950 -65 captaining the club and winning the Austrian League 7 times. In 1999 he was named Rapid's all time greatest player.

Rapid were founded in 1898 as Erster Wiener Arbeiter Fussball Club or First Workers' Club of Vienna as it translates into English. Their green and white shirts are now world famous, but they started off playing in red and blue and decided on the change to green and white in 1904. Since then Rapid have frequently worn red and blue as their away colours. Last season they wore green and white at home and er green and white away, for those of you watching in black and white.

In the inter war years before Anschluss Austrian football was at its most dominant and it has been suggested that catennacio was born here rather than in Italy. Argentinian coach Helenio Herrera made it famous with the dour Inter team of the 1960s, but it was based on a system created by Karl Rapan from Austria, although he spent most of his time managing Switzerland, so perhaps it wasn't that popular in Vienna.

After the Anschluss Rapid found themselves in the regional German leagues -- it was all regional then. In 1938 they won the Tscammerpokal, which later became the German cup with a 3-1 victory over Frankfurt and in 1941 they became 'German' Champions by beating Shalke 04 by 4 goals to 3 despite being 3-0 down. Perhaps in this game they were helped by the rythmic clapping that Rapid fans do for the las 15 minutes of every game and has been said to have turned results in their favour. This rhytmic clapping known as Rapidviertelstunde first started in 1913 and can still be seen today.

Overall Rapid have won 32 Austrian titles, however the big money of FK Magna and Red Bull Salzburg has helped to put an end to their dominance. That said they have scored 11 goals in their first 4 games of this season and last week demolished Karnten 5-1

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