Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Cup final in a way completed a season giving a candy to everyone of the best Austrian clubs. Swarowaski-Wacker and VOEST (Linz) reached the final. VOEST was fifth in the league, still going strong, but not really at the level of their champion year a couple of seasons earlier. They were also the club practically without stars when compared to the other top teams. The first leg of the final was played in Linz. 8000 people attended, a modest number, at first glance, but one has to remember this was Austria – actually, big attendance for the small and not particularly crazy about football country. The hosts opened in the 32nd minute, courtesy of Michael Lorenz. The visitors equalized by Welzl in the middle of the second half, in the 64th minute. No more goals were scored, a tied game without a winner.

The second leg was equally competitive, but in Innsbruck the hosts had the natural advantage. Slightly bigger audience – 8500 – naturally, most of them were Swarovski-Wacker supporters. However, the visitors silenced Tirol early – Hagmayr opened in the 5th minute. The hosts reacted quickly and equalized two minutes later – P. Scwartz scored in the 7th minute. Just before the end of the first half they went ahead thanks to Peter Koncilia. The efforts of both teams in the second half produced nothing and the match ended 2-1. VOEST lost.

Coming close to success, but only that. Brave, still trying to stay among the best Austrian clubs, but, realistically speaking, playing at the final was the most VOEST were able of.

Swarovski-Wacker were not overwhelming winners, but having more class was enough of a difference. A fourth cup for the club, which in a single decade became one of the most successful clubs in Austrian football history.

So far, Swarovski-Wacker won five titles – 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1977. And four cups – 1970, 1973, 1975, and the fresh 1978. The most successful club of the country of the 1970s, but the peak was mat be two or three years ago. Unlike Austria and Rapid, Swarovski-Wacker was no longer rising, but was only stable. Like their competitors, they also had a great player – Bruno Pezzey, already called 'the new Beckenbauer'. Perhaps that was the whole difference – attacking football was prevailing: Rapid had fantastic striker, Krankl; Austria – fantastic midfielder, Prohaska; and having fantastic defender was just not enough in the championship. Swarovski-Wacker maintained position by winning the Cup, but it was already clear that the key players of the team – Pezzey, F. Koncilia, and Welzl – were not going to stay for long. Behind them were solid, experienced, but not extraordinary players going old. The signs of approaching decline... Swarovski-Wacker was not a contender in the championship and the cup was a bit of a consolation prize. Still, a victory is a victory, and a cup – an important trophy. Nine trophies since 1970! And a bit of novelty – the colours of Swarovski-Wacker are green and black. Yet, in the 1970s they often played in white. This year – red and white.