Chanting the name of your football team at a game is common practice, with some chants even spelling out team names letter by letter. This is relatively simple when your name happens to contain ‘City’ or ‘United’, but imagine the commitment required if your team name is ‘First Vienna Football Club 1894’. The game would be over before you had got through it!
The commitment is worth it though, because the very name of the club tells us that this was indeed the first football club in Vienna, and therefore in Austria.
Origins and the club today
Gardeners working for Nathaniel von Rothschild on his Hohe Warte Estate on the outskirts of Vienna were keen to promote football more widely in Austria. Some had spent time in England, which is where they had gained their enthusiasm for the game. Nathaniel – keen to protect his garden from the boots of the players – stepped in to fund not only the grounds, but also the running costs of the club. The club was founded on 22 August 1894. Nathaniel and a senior manager of the Rothschild bank were named as sponsors of the ‘First Vienna Football Club 1894’ on the foundation document.
The club now has a successful women’s team, formed in 1989 – the first to be formed by a Bundesliga club. The club is also keen to encourage younger players. This summer it organised a three-day long girls’ football festival, with teams from four countries gathering at its campus. Even though the World Cup is over, there is more football in view: the women’s season in Austria begins this coming Saturday 26 August.
Unsurprisingly, given its origins, the teams play in the blue and yellow colours that are associated with the Rothschild family. Blue and yellow are the colours of the province of Lower Austria, of which Vienna was then the capital. These colours were first used by the Rothschild family in the coat of arms granted by the Austrian College of Heralds in 1822, when the five Rothschild brothers were ennobled as Barons.
This season’s champions
While the men’s, women’s and youth teams have performed well in the past season, it was the club’s team for those with disabilities that won the Panther Cup, one of the largest events of Special Olympics Austria.
The existence of this team would no doubt have delighted Nathaniel von Rothschild, whose concern for the more vulnerable members of society led his family to create a hospital in his name to treat patients with mental health and neurological conditions.
The club’s website features lots of information about its history, current activities, fixtures and results. There is even a photograph of some members of today’s Rothschild family, standing on the pitch during a visit to Vienna in May 2022.
Visitors to Vienna might be interested in seeing an exhibition at the Jewish Museum there, which features the history of the First Vienna Football Club in a wider presentation of clubs with Jewish connections. Super Jews. Jewish Identity in the Football Stadium is open until 14 January 2024.