By Philip Jackson
Have you heard the one about a team of underdogs who won a cup final and just missed out on promotion this year?
At first glance you may of thought that I’d got it all a little mixed up there, in all the excitement of this season I’d actually dreamt that we’d actually triumphed at Wembley the first time round, but no I don’t think the details of this season past will ever fade from my memory.
I meant what I wrote in the first sentence. There has been a team in Europe this season that did exactly that.
Just past the end of the runway of The Blue Danube Airport, Linz, Austria lies the ‘Waldstadion’, the modern 7,152 seater home of FC Pasching, a club who’s modern history would ring a few bells around these parts.
During the late 90s they rose from regional obscurity to finally gain promotion to the Austrian Bundesliga in 2002, competed in the Intertoto Cup and also the UEFA Cup. Then disaster, a decision was made to move the club to another part of Austria where those in power thought they would earn more money and draw bigger crowds. (Although the newly named Austria Kärnten took their place in the Bundesliga, they filed for bankruptcy in 2010.)
Pasching had to start again
This season Pasching found themselves in the third tier of Austrian football (split into three divisions east, central and west) in Regionalliga Central and clearly, at this level, a good team.
It is however, their exploits in the Austrian cup that have caught the eye, admittedly the Austrian league isn’t the strongest in Europe and they don’t have as many clubs as England so it may not be a surprise that they found themselves in the cup quarter final.
Facing them was an away tie against Rapid Vienna, a team that would finish 3rd in the Bundesliga. In the bright Viennese sunshine, Pasching produced an excellent display against their illustrious, but disappointing opponents; the match was sealed with a low shot from 12 yards out from the beautifully named Spaniard, Casanova, on the hour mark.
The semi final brought them up against Red Bull Salzburg. (SV Austria Salzburg played in violet and had been in around in the 1930’s when they were bought by Red Bull, had their colours changed and basically started a new club and forced the fans to start all over again.) RB Salzburg finished the season in 2nd place in the Bundesliga.
A slick passing move opened up the Pasching defence and RBS led 1-0, a lovely curling finish brought the scores level, a scruffy dribble through the box and an outstretched foot of a defender looped the winner into the back of the Salzburg net.
This set up a final against newly-crowned league champions, Austria Vienna. But in their hometown, in torrential rain inside the Ernst Happoel Stadion they are outdone by Casanova’s trickery down the left and a Hanson-like header to give the third division side the victory.
The following day their city rivals LASK Linz won 7-1, move above Pasching into 1st place in the division, ensuring their place in the play offs and confine Pasching to another year in the 3rd division.