First Vienna FC: Austria’s Oldest Football Club Still Attracts Fans Today

First Vienna FC
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First Vienna FC was founded in 1894 as the country’s first football club by a group of Austrian and English gardeners who were working for Nathaniel Anselm von Rothschild. To avoid further damage to his gardens, Rothschild provided them with a field near his estate as well as blue-and-yellow kits.

On November 15, 1894, First Vienna Football Club played its first-ever match against Vienna Cricket and Football-Club, the second oldest football club in Austria. The game ended with a 0-4 loss for First Vienna.

Vienna won its first titles in 1899 and 1900 when it lifted the Champions Cup, a tournament for clubs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, two years in a row.

Vienna’s Glory Years

Vienna FC

In 1929, the club’s glory year started. Vienna won the Austrian cup in 1929 and 1930 and managed to secure the league title in 1931. In the same year, Vienna FC also lifted the Mitropa Cup trophy, which was the most prestigious European Cup at the time. This was arguably the club’s biggest success in its 126-year history.

In 1933, Vienna managed to win another national championship. Additionally, in 1937, the club won the Austrian cup for the third time.

Following the “Anschluss” between Germany and Austria during the Nazi era, the two country’s football leagues were merged. As a result, Austrian clubs were able to compete for German titles. In 1943, First Vienna won the Tschammerpokal – the predecessor of the German Cup – by beating Luftwaffen-SV Hamburg 3:2 in extra time.

After Austria’s reformation as a republic, Vienna FC continued to compete in top tier Austrian football, winning the national league once again in 1955.

Vienna’s Slow Decline

Following the introduction of Austria’s new “Zehnerliga” in the mid-1970s, Vienna FC found itself struggling to compete and faced several relegation and promotions in the decades to follow.

The last big successes the club experienced were the qualifications for the UEFA Cup in the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons. In the competitions, the Viennese club faced the likes of Valletta F.C. and Olympiacos Piraeus.

In the next three decades, Vienna struggled to compete and found itself in financial difficulties. However, that did not mean that its fans turned their backs on the club. On the contrary!

Even today, where First Vienna is playing in the lower echelons of the Austrian football pyramid, the club boasts one of the highest attendance rates outside of the Bundesliga. You will find passionate fans making noise regardless of whether FVFC is playing in the fifth division (as was the case in the 2018-19 season) or a cup game against SK Rapid.

The Hohe Warte Stadium

Vienna’s home ground, the Hohe Warte stadium, was built in 1921 and has a current capacity of 5,500 spectators. That was not always the case, however.

Hohe Warte Vienna FC
Geiserich77 [CC BY-SA]

After its opening in 1921, the Hohe Warte became the home of the Austrian national team. It was one of the biggest stadium’s on the continent at the time. The Hohe Warte experienced its all-time record attendance of 85,000 spectators when Austria played Italy in 1923.

In recent years, the highest league game attendance was against Wiener Sport-Club in 2015 when 6,000 fans ventured to the Hohe Warte. Interestingly, the small Vienna derby regularly sees over 5,000 spectators passing through the stadium turnstiles.

The Small Vienna Derby

Vienna’s derby rival is Wiener Sport-Club. Both Vienna and Sport-Club are the two small clubs in Vienna – after SK Rapid and FK Austria who are Bundesliga mainstays.

However, both Vienna FC and Sport-Club managed to maintain a sizable following despite playing in the lower leagues for years. As a result, the small Vienna derby attracts more crowds than most Austrian Bundesliga games.

Derby of Love 2019 presented by First Vienna FC

Dubbed the “Derby of Love,” due to the overlap in the clubs’ supporters’ political leanings and dedication to non-violence, you will often find fans of both clubs sharing drinks before and after the game despite their sporting rivalry. However, not everyone is a fan of the term “derby of love.” There are always three points on the line when the two clubs meet. And, everyone wants bragging rights.

Vienna Supporters Are Loud And Proud

First Vienna has passionate supporters, lead by the Vienna Supporters, Wanderers, and Wierdoz, who conduct tifos at major games and add a Bundesliga feeling to the club’s lower league games.

The majority of the supporters’ chants are in English. That should come as little surprise given the club’s name and partly British heritage.

Video by Rude27

Additionally, similarly to the supporters’ end at their derby rival Sport-Club, you will not find racism, sexism, antisemitism, or homophobia among the active Vienna supporters. Vienna FC prides itself on being an inclusive, family-friendly club where everyone is welcome. The same can be said for the club’s supporters scene.

If you are ever in Vienna on a Friday evening, pop over to Döbling and catch a Vienna game. While you may not witness Champions League-level football, you will find a top-class atmosphere that any football fan can appreciate.

Captain @ Hooligan F.C.

Alex is the founder and "captain" of Hooligan F.C. He is the editor-in-chief and handles the day-to-day operations. He supports SK Rapid Wien.

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