Whilst the first Austrian to play for Tottenham is our current player Kevin Wimmer the connections go back over a hundred years. We have met clubs from that country in European action twice and played an unusual European tie in the country. There is also ‘the finest game I ever saw’ and we discover a sprinkling of links from the international stage as we turn our attention to another of the countries that will be in action in this summer’s European Championships.
Our first competitive meeting was with FK Austria in the fourth round of the UEFA Cup in 1983/84. Tottenham in their drive to ensure first leg lead at the Lane took what the press described as a physical approach with the Austrians describing Graham Roberts and Paul Miller after the game as ‘wrong in the head.’ The Austrian captain claimed Roberts had nearly taken his legs off. It wasn’t all one way as Tony Parkes playing in place of the injured Ray Clemence required stitches across his knees. Just before the hour Archibald gave Spurs the lead. He then hit the bar before setting up Alan Brazil for the second as we won 2-0. Brazil also had an earlier chance ruled out. Tottenham were not in good shape by the time of the return in Vienna. The UEFA was the team’s only chance of success. Before the game manager Keith Burkenshaw said he didn’t want any fans travelling for the second game so as to avoid any possible crowd trouble. There were also problems off the pitch with both Archibald (below) and Brazil made available for transfers. Despite this Tottenham turned in a performance which was one of their best of the season. The Sun led with the headline – Spur-Fect! Tottenham took the lead after a quarter of an hour, Stevens and Archibald linked to set up Brazil to score. Alan Brazil said his goal killed the tie and they knew it was over. Ardiles got the second, a real cracker in off the bar, with ten minutes to play. Stevens was booked. The Austrians scored twice, one a penalty in the last few minutes but Spurs were still on the way to winning the trophy that season.
Over the years we have met sides from that country on a number of occasions in both one off friendlies and during club tours. Austria was indeed the venue of Tottenham’s first tour when we went overseas to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1905; details can be found in ‘Hotspur Towers – The First Tours’.
We returned there again in 1912 when we toured around Europe, at that time Spurs played two games in Vienna beating Sports Athletic Club 5-2. Then four days later we lost to Woolwich Arsenal. The team then moved on to Budapest before returning to Vienna where we met their Olympic players and again lost. Sadly the details of these games other than the result have been lost in time. It was 1955 when we returned there on tour again during visits to a number of countries across the continent, with the first game falling in Vienna where FC Austria beat us 2-6, both our goals coming from Len Duquemin. Our next tour that went to the country was in 1980. Once again we lost the first game against a combined Rapid /FC Austria side. This was followed by another defeat two days later against another combined side made up of players from Gais and Strum clubs.
right - Gordon Durie.
Our second competitive meeting came in 1991/92 when we travelled to Vienna to play SV Stockerau. A team made up of professionals and amateurs who played in their second division in the preliminary round of the European Cup Winners Cup. Despite meeting opposition that Spurs should brush aside they set up defensively. Manager Peter Shreeves claiming ‘The blueprint was to retain possession in away games in Europe’. Gordon Durie scored in the 38th minute. Then on 66 they had a penalty after a Mabbutt foul. Erik Thorstvedt dived the right way and pushed the ball away for Tottenham to bring home a slender lead.
The return saw the Austrians take a physical approach, most likely to avoid being overrun. As it was, one goal settled it with Mabbutt scoring just before the break. The press were clear that Spurs would have to ‘up their game’ if they were to go much further. The programme from the away game is below.
Strangely our next game in the competition saw us return to Austria. We were to play the Yugoslavian side Hajduk Split. Due to the civil war raging in that country the away leg was moved to Linz in Austria. Where just 7,000 people watched us lose by the only goal but a 2-0 win in the second leg saw us through.
Other games with their club sides include a meeting as part of the celebrations of the Festival of Britain in 1950. We entertained FC Austria at home and lost by the only goal of the game in front of 30,000 supporters.
Then in 1952 we met them again this time in Brussels as part of the Le Soir Cup and the game ended 2-2, Bennett and Duquemin (left) being our scorers. This match was played under floodlights (Tottenham did not get their own lights until the following year) and the game was described as ‘The Champions of Europe.’ As we were the reigning English champions and the Austrians acknowledged as one of the best sides on the continent. The Tottenham manager Arthur Rowe said this game ‘was the finest I’d ever seen.’
We must have had a good relationship with the Austrian side as they visited us again in October ’53 in a floodlight friendly and we managed a 3-2 win in front of more than thirty seven thousand. This was only the second game Spurs had played at White Hart Lane under the lights, having met Racing Club de Paris the month before, (1,2) Waters, Harmer and Duquemein being the scorers that night. The most recent clash wasn’t until August 1968 when as part of the pre-season we drew 2-2 out there, Greaves and Jimmy Pearce were on the mark.
Kevin Wimmer (top) made history when he signed for Tottenham last summer becoming the first Austrian to play for the club. He previously played for LASK Linz and FC Cologne. He has played at all levels from Under 17 upwards for his country and as two full caps to date of writing.
Roger Nilsen who played for us in 1998/99 also had a spell with the Austrian club Grazer AK.
Turning to some of the highlights from the international stage, you will have read in ‘The First Tours,’ how Tottenham’s success led to England’s first overseas tour and the success of the country’s development. Indeed many had them as favourities for the 1938 World Cup until Nazi Germany intervened. That first England meeting in June 1908 saw Vivian Woodward captain the side and score, and he is still England’s top scorer against them with eight. When the sides met again two days after the first meeting Vivian added another four goals in an 11-1 win. He scored another hat trick when the sides met again a year later.
November 1951 and a 2-2 draw at Wembley saw Ramsey score his first international goal, from the penalty spot. Les Medley and Eddie Baily were also in the lineup. 1973 saw Martin Peters captain England in a 7-0 win when Martin Chivers scored, during Alf Ramsey’s mangership. Other games have seen Jimmy Greaves, Jermain Defoe, Ledley King, Paul Robinson, and Alan Mullery feature for England. The last time they met in 2007 the winner was scored by (Liverpool’s) Peter Crouch.
Tottenham men in Scotland’s colours has seen Dave Mackay score when they met in 1960, (Dave also captained Scotland in another match) alongside John White and Bill Brown. Alan Gilzean and Colin Calderwood have also played against them for their country. While Wales had Ron Burgess in the side when they met in 1954. Other Tottenham players to play against Austria for their respective countries include, Luka Modric, Christian Ziege, Marton Fulop, Didier Zokora,
Back with Spurs, also in the fifties we played Sportklub Wacker, who are based in Vienna, when they visited us in October 1954, when we lost to them under the lights 1-2, our goal that night coming from McCellan.
If you know of any other Austrian connections do please send them in.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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Notes – 1 – see Hotspur Towers – Under the Lights.
2- Although it was Tottenham’s second game, it was the third at the ground as the RAF had played the
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