Saturday 9th April 2022 ko 16:00
1 Landesliga Salzburg
A.S.V. SALZBURG 4 (Takulja 45 Tabernig 72 76 Egleseder 81)
S.C. LEOGANG 2 (Gimpl 82 Lucic 89)
Att 103 at ASV Sportenlage, Itzling
Entry €6 ( c£5.06)
I’m aware that Robyn and I are not your normal married couple, and the first day of our honeymoon proved the point. The fact that it was delayed two years, three months is explainable, the pandemic changed more important things for more people after all, but how many couples make the first day of their honeymoon consist of a kebab for lunch, a non-league football match, and in the evening a trip to a bierkeller? We may not be a normal couple but who wants to be middle-of-the-road anyway?
For those of you who’ve followed our adventures pre-pandemic you’ll be aware that we normally spend a long weekend wherever we go. Here we used that format to visit Salzburg, but then hired a car to spend just under a week near Reutte in the Tirol. It proved to be quite an adventure, and I’m more than aware that that’s not most people’s idea of a honeymoon… but as I said we’re not most people’s idea of a normal couple.
In the days before the holiday staffing issues saw many flights from Gatwick cancelled and those flights that did leave did so after horrendous queues. We set our alarm far earlier than would normally be appropriate and fortunately sailed through with barely a delay. We’d invested too much both financially and emotionally to let anything go wrong.
We flew wearing FFP2 masks which were mandatory in all European flights and when in Austria and Germany on all public transport and indoors unless sat and eating. We also had to prove our Covid vaccination status entering Austria and always have proof available when in Germany. It wasn’t an issue, the check took seconds, and I note the requirement in Austria has just been dropped.
Salzburg is so named after the salt deposits that that made the city rich. There is the wonderful tale of the city being besieged in the 16th century. Eventually the food warehouses were empty, and all the cattle slaughtered apart from just one bull. Rather than surrender the city’s leaders decided to paint the bull a different pattern each day and show it to the army camped outside. They got the inaccurate idea that Salzburg had plenty of food and gave up their siege. I have to say I didn’t eat a single burger while were there, it didn’t seem right.
Later, the city became famous as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the setting for the story of the von Trapp singing family immortalised in the “Sound of Music” film. We made sure we visited everything to do with both, and all were excellent.
But why Amateursportvereinigung (Amateur Sports Club) Salzburg? There’s no easy answer to that, I’d only set myself one rule, and that was nothing Red Bull, the removal of a club’s history and colours just isn’t my thing, even if support in Salzburg for anything Red Bull is strong. They are a massive Austrian success story after all.
I’d spotted ASV Salzburg had a game only 2 km away from our hotel, and since they had an active Instagram account, I followed them and checked the fixture was correct. I got an instant follow-back and confirmation It turned out the account is run by two of the club’s younger players Eren and Marko as a means of raising the club’s profile, and to get more people from the area to come to watch them. Well, it worked in the sense that they added two more on the gate, but locally? Perhaps not! What happened next answered my question earlier, the truth of it was we were looking for a club to fall in love with. It was an easy enough task to catch the trolleybus to the Sportenlage Itzling too.
I should explain how the Austrian pyramid works. The top league is the Austrian Bundesliga followed by the 2. Liga. After that there’s the 3 Regionaliga split Ost (East), Mittel (Middle) and West (West). After are the Landesliga organised by the local associations, so in the Salzburg area the fourth level is the Salzburgliga and below that is the 1. Landesliga. Or if you’d like a more succinct description, we walked into a 5th division club’s promotion tilt! There was a link back to the UK too, Gerhard Fellner was a youth player at ASV Salzburg, and his playing career included a stint at Falkirk. Until recently he was manager at Wiener Neustadt.
But the fun of this afternoon was the look on peoples’ faces when they worked out just how far we’d travelled to be there. Oxford to Itzling is a little unusual but I find that stunned look incredibly endearing and we’ll treasure the scarf the club gave us. It goes without saying that neither Eren nor Marko will ever have to convince anyone at ASV Salzburg as to the power of social media.
As for Robyn and I we sat in the stand as let the stresses and strains of everything that got us to slowly dissipated. One of reasons why we’d picked Austria for our honeymoon was that Robyn had never seen the mountains, and here was a ground with snowcapped peaks as a backdrop. Clearly there was method in my madness!
In fact, my only worry was the game itself. My ability to jinx a friendly club is well known, and here was one of the friendliest clubs we’ve ever visited, and they were second in their division too! It took them time to find their range but once that first goal went in on the stroke of half-time, they never looked back even if the visitors two late goals did produce a raised eyebrow or two.
That evening we sat in that bierkeller, ate, and enjoyed the best beers Stiegl could brew. The truth of it was that we could have visited any number of games on that Saturday in Salzburg, but would we have gained as much as we did by visiting our new friends in Itzling? Not a chance, and I note that with 3 games left ASV Salzburg are still in with a shout of promotion. All the very best to them.