A Friday night road trip into Austria’s Waldviertel for the Erste Liga cracker that was SV Horn v FC Wacker Innsbruck started the weekend off. Luckily we left a bit early as we went a very scenic route there-it was genuinely very pretty, it was just nowhere near the way I had intended on going! We still managed to make it the with nearly half an hour until kick-off, and parked up in the field/village green that doubles up as football parking, so far so good even with a 20km detour!
The ground itself, the Waldviertler Volksbank Arena, is a strange little place. Along one side is a nice enough covered stand with 7 or 8 rows of seats, and opposite it is an uncovered scaffold terrace. At one end of the ground is a very modern looking glass panelled VIP section, that also appears to have a house attached to it, I figured this was the old Clubhouse. Behind the other goal is a small covered standing area that houses home fans on one side and away fans on the other, apparently the away section used to have a metal cage across the front of it but thankfully they have done away with that now. Strangely the changing rooms were about 70m behind this stand, with what looked like a small training pitch inbetween.
The game was largely a scrappy affair with the ball spending almost as much time in the sky as it did on the pitch! Although that is a given in a league of 10 clubs where 7 are fighting to avoid relegation. Innsbruck were the better side in the first half, although Horn were probably happier going in for the break at 0-0. The second half carried on in a similar way, until the 61st minute when Innsbruck broke out of defence and a well placed through ball left the young striker Alex Gründler with a clear run at goal and a well placed finish into the corner to put Innsbruck 1 up. Suddenly the game turned into a cup-tie, Innsbruck not being used to having the lead and Horn desperately trying to get back into the game, meant the game was open and with both sets of players doing everything they could for their teams-positions, formations and tactics seemed to disappear into the night sky. Even when Horn had a player sent off with around 15minutes remaining the pattern the game was taking didn’t change, desperate defending, counter attacks and clearances aimed at the moon, were mixed in with substitutions, time wasting and some very bad diving-the best example was probably when the Horn capitan let out a loud scream when he was challenged on the half way line and then almost immediately jumped to his feet when nothing was given! In the end Innsbruck held on for a valuable win that draws them level with Horn on 30 points, and tightens the relegation dogfight up just a little bit more.
As Horn is much easier to reach by car than public transport, prices for drinks were reflected in the same way, a coke cost €3 and a bier cost €2! If your not the designated driver, like I was, it’s almost worth the trip for the bier price alone! After the game we managed to get out of the field/car park relatively quickly and onto the (right) road home! It was during the drive home I noticed there are no catseyes in the middle of the roads here in Austria, something that I think wouldn’t be bad idea on dark country roads, I guess I’ll just have to get used it!