Generali Arena | My Heart For Austria Vienna II

Interior of the Generali Arena, home of Austria Wien and the Young Violets

Austria Vienna II 0-1 Lafnitz FC

📍 Generali Arena | Vienna, AT
🏆 HPYBET 2. liga
⚽ Austria (Tier 2)
📅 Sun 26 Sep 21 | 10.30am
🎟️ €16 | Att: 322

I arrive at the Generali-Arena on a clean, crisp Sunday morning, the autumn tranquillity perforated only by the dull, beer-induced throbbing in my temples, and the increasingly desperate need for coffee.

This was supposed to be my second (or even possibly third) football match this weekend, but as I emerge from Altes Landgut on the U1 line, I’m yet to see a ball kicked in anger in the Austrian capital.

The reason is, of course, Ryanair, who’s decision to delay yesterday’s flight forced me to miss FC Mauerwerk and, more frustratingly, AC Floridsdorfer (for which I’d already purchased a ticket). The latter was a particularly bitter pill to swallow, as the first 500 entrants had received a free beer according to the club’s social media pages.

As a result, I’d spent the previous evening at the Eerste Bank Arena in Kagran, home to the Vienna Capitals ice hockey team (for anyone who’s never attended a live ice hockey match, I heartily recommend it; like football, it is designed to be enjoyed as a live spectator event, and when you throw in safe standing, cold, strong beer, and an ultras section, it can be just as enjoyable as watching 22 men kick a ball).

The previous evening’s entertainment at the Eerste Bank Arena

Unfortunately, though, I’d enjoyed the beer a little too much, and getting up at 8am the following morning to head to Favoriten (Vienna’s “roughest district”, according to TripAdvisor) to watch a youth team was starting to sound a little silly.

This, after all, is what Austria Vienna II – or the Young Violets, to give them their unofficial title – is. When I first started browsing fixtures for trips this season, I’d originally ruled out going to see “B” teams. However, I then amended this rule (in fact, I threw it out completely) if it meant the side in question were playing someone else’s first team in a competitive fixture, and today that opponent is Lafnitz FC, a rural club around 120km from Vienna that has spent most of its recent history in the Austrian third tier.

Sunday Morning Call at the Generali Arena

After prescribing my semi-hangover with a McMuffin and a black coffee (in a wonderfully soulless petrol station McDonald’s, no less), I follow the main road to the ground, and take a couple of snaps. Average attendances for the Young Violets usually sit in the 400 to 500 range, and the unerringly quiet landscape around the stadium suggest today will be no different.

Exterior of the Generali Arena, home to Austria Wien.
View from the Altes Landgut U-Bahn station

These games are included as freebies for Austria Vienna season ticket holders, but clearly the majority are not interested; inside the ground, the crowd consists mainly of families (of the players, in some fairly evident cases), couples, and a small troupe of six dedicated “ultras” that wave a small purple flag and chant for around 3 minutes before giving up.

Clearly this Sunday morning malaise doesn’t affect that other Austro-German footballing tradition, though; the beer and sausages are being consumed at an impressive rate. One rather rotund chap – the sole Lafnitz fan, it appears – seems to be enjoying these cultural staples with particular abandon, pausing in between mouthfuls of Frankfurter to yell encouragement for the away team (or call them fucking useless; in German, it’s hard to tell).

Emboldened by my petrol station breakfast, I decide to dabble myself and, as the stadium PR blasts out the surprisingly catchyMein Herz für Austria Wien”, I actually start to wake up.

Introducing the Young Violets

The spectacle itself starts bizarrely, with the home side emerging from a corner tunnel, walking across the pitch, and then heading back down the main tunnel only to remerge instantly alongside their opponents. Austria, in general, seems like a stickler for respecting the rules, as I find out later that day at the Allianz-Stadion.

The game itself flows well, although both sides are guilty of gifting away possession in an attempt to play out from the back. The Young Violets show flashes of promise; goalkeeper Mirko Kos, forward Armand Smrcka, and Raphael Schifferl – a tall, bleach-blonde centre half – all look to have something about them that could result in a future in the first team.

It’s Lafnitz that take the lead in the 31st minute, though, with Ziad El Shawi committing himself naively inside the area. Gangly target man Mario Kröpfl converts with a poorly executed but successful Panenka, and after that the away side contrive to miss four or five golden opportunities before seeing out the victory fairly comfortably.

Beer and hotdogs at the Generali Arena, home of both Austria Wien and the Young Violets

Throughout, the crowd seem mostly apathetic to what’s going on, although they do their utmost to encourage their young charges and even muster the energy to barrack the referee when appropriate. Given that the Young Violets can’t promote, and that their sole purpose is to develop players for the first team, this isn’t surprising; while it may not be particularly pulse-quickening stuff, it’s a tick in the box for what is a pretty unique ground – and one which I’ve no doubt provides a great atmosphere when the “real thing” is in town. My heart for Austria Vienna, indeed.

Postscript: The Young Violets continued to struggle throughout the season, finishing two points above the relegation zone in 13th. It was a more positive campaign for Lafnitz, who secured fourth place some 18 points behind eventual champions Austria Lustenau.