26.01.2007 10:18


SK RAPID was founded on 8th January 1899, effectively replacing the “Erste Wiener Arbeiter Fußballklub” founded in September 1898. Since 1911 SK Rapid has played in the top flight in Austria. The club won the first football league, held in 1911/1912, and is today the record title holder having won the league title an impressive 32 times. Rapid also became the first club to win the Austrian Cup in the 1918/1919 season.Up until 1903, the Rapid was forced to play on makeshift pitches on the grounds of the former K.u.K. Exerzierfeld at Auf der Schmelz. Rudolfsheimer-Sportplatz (along Selzergasse/Hütteldorferstraße, today’s Meiselmarkt) became the club’s first home on 15th March 1903. On 28th April 1912, the first league game was played at the legendary Rapid pitch, which came to be known by opponents as the “Pfarrwiese”.The “Pfarrwiese” remained home to SK Rapid until 1977 when the club moved to the newly-constructed “Weststadion” situated just a stone’s throw away. The stadium was designed by architect Dipl.Ing. Gerhard Hanappi, who effectively built his own monument. The ex-Rapid star is still club’s most internationally capped player.Hanappi died in 1981 and the Weststadion was renamed the “Gerhard Hanappi Stadion” in his memory. With the exception of the redeveloped “Ernst Happel Stadion” in Vienna’s Prater, the “Hanappi-Stadion” was the most modern stadium in Austria.In the club’s long and prestigious history, SK Rapid has been home to a host of the games top players and it has shaped football in both Austria and Europe. “Rigo” Kuthan, Josef “Pepi” Uridil, ‘Wunderteam’ player Pepi Smistik, record top goal scorer Franz “Bimbo” Binder, “Tiger” Walter Zeman, “Wödmasta” Ernst Happel, the Körner brothers, the most internationally capped Gerhard Hanappi, World Cup Winner Franz Hasil, and “Goleador” Hans Krankl are but a few players who have worn the green and white of the team from Hütteldorf, and who have helped make Rapid known around the world. The combative game played by Rapid also helped to draw in the crowds. The club is famous for the “Rapidviertelstunde” – a tradition where the fans applaud for the final 15 minutes of every single game to motivate the players – and the “Rapidgeist” – the spirit of the club. The team is dedicated to what it represents and therefore never gives up, something that has been highlighted over the years by a number of matches that have been dramatically turned around. The best known of which was the 4:3 win over Schalke on the last day of the season in the German league in 1941. Entering the final 15 minutes already 3:0 down, Rapid amazingly managed to turn the tie on its head and complete an unimaginable comeback. Rapid played on every continent, making the “Wiener Fußballschule” famous around the world. Before WWII and during the 50s, Rapid were among the most successful club sides in Europe. The 80s, however, were to be the club’s most successful years. Between 1982 and 1988, SK Rapid picked up 4 league titles, 4 Cup wins and 3 Austrian Super Cup wins, whilst also beating Besiktas, Celtic, Dynamo Dresden and Dinamo Moscow on the way to the final of the 1984/85 Cup Winner’s Cup. In the final in Rotterdam, Rapid missed out on the trophy, losing 3:1 to English cup winners Everton. In 1996, Rapid saw off Petrolul Ploiesti, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Moscow and Feyenoord to set up a Cup Winners' Cup Final against Paris St. Germain. The match ended 1:0 to the French side. In the 97/98 UEFA Cup, Rapid made their way to the 3rd Round following qualification by beating Boby Brno, only to be knocked out at the hands of Roma. SK Rapid place considerable attention on the development of youth players. As a result, no other Bundesliga club has produced as many home grown players for the senior squad than Rapid. The club celebrated its centenary year in 1999. For ten days, Vienna’s Rathausplatz was transformed into a Rapid zone decorated in the green and white of the club. To mark the occasion, a celebratory tournament was held in July which was attended by Roma, Werder Bremen and Botafogo Rio de Janeiro, as well as dozens of ex-Rapid players from throughout the club’s rich history. Unfortunately no title was to follow that year.The record title winners are still Austria’s most popular club. This is an achievement of which we are proud and determined not only to maintain, but also continuously build upon. In the 2004/05 season Rapid won their first league title since 1996. The average attendance rocketed and, with almost 15,000 fans per game, memories of the glory years during the 50s and 60s came flooding back.Another title was added three years later. In the 2007/08 campaign, the Hütteldorf side secured its 32nd league title. Several games were sold out throughout the season, again increasing the average attendance. And the perfect highlight came in the run-in, as Rapid destroyed reigning champions and league leaders Red Bull Salzburg 7:0 in their own stadium.