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Let Sleeping Plods Lie

Let Sleeping Plods Lie

After two weeks of soul-searching and finger-pointing following the SAK disaster it was good to get back to what it’s all about; getting together and having a beer and a sing song. 1150 fans game to a game they didn’t know what to expect from, but although there was no quantum leap made on the tactical side, a scruffy looking 2-0 win against FC Puch and the accompanying 3 points were enough fuel to keep the good ship Austria Salzburg heading in the right direction.

Yes, it was absolutely shit that a few cowards ran at the players, the training staff and worst of all at the 15 SAK fans, who were punched for supporting their team vociferously, positively and wholeheartedly for 90 minutes and deserved their victory. After the SAK game the first tentative therapeutical steps have been taken by the club: 15 of our supporters banned, a big fat fine to be paid, plus the suspended fine from the Saalfelden game, and we have to foot the bill for the police presence that will accompany us at least until the end of the season. Bitter pills are hard to swallow and this was the background against which we were going to see how the patient was reacting to the treatment. Quite well as it turned out!
The gate of 1150 was a clear sign that the support for Austria Salzburg is determined to be there ‘for’ the team and not for any sectarian hard-man ego shows of strength. Like everybody else I was also sickened to see how some sections of the press reported on a riot that never took place involving a group - no - a mob of angry, - no aggressive and violent ‘hooligans’. It wasn’t easy to see exactly what was going on but I saw about 50 people on the pitch, some of whom were trying to stop the others from doing something stupid. It was bad enough that there was violence, but when I read about 300 rabid fans last week I had to ask myself if there were any reporters at the SAK game or if the reporter(s) in question felt any duty to tell the truth. Report – yes! But please keep to the facts.
Seen in the light of these events the vans full of policemen (one collective term for this organisation being ‘the plod) and security blokes with shaven heads seemed like a logical development, except for the fact that Puch don’t have any fans and with hopefully all of the nutters away from the footie the atmosphere was actually very positive. As the sun tried it’s best to come out and Salva and the Ultras cranked up the singing even the police must have asked themselves what they were doing there – all ten vans of them.
Having scabbed a 2-2 at their place in the autumn and being in no danger of going up or down Puch could afford to come at us without fearing any consequences. For Austria Salzburg, on the other hand, it was absolutely imperative to bag the three points from this game to avoid even more existential lamenting and general bad vibes, so with everything to lose nobody wanted to do anything to detract the team’s attention from the task at hand. The police enjoyed the few rays of sunshine that forced their way through the clouds and apart from smoking the odd cig, they didn’t really have much to do.
With four-lungs Urbanek back in town Reifeltshammer had to sit this one out. Our secret weapon was also on for his second game, Stanislav Vasilij. Despite missing a penalty against SAK he is the only person we have that can do anything with the high crosses coming in when we attack, and he knows how to run with the ball – which is also good to know. However, having downed my second beer by the end of the first half hour I wasn’t really concentrating on supporting my team as much as I should have been. All I can say is that the general pattern of the last few weeks was being repeated; we were doing more for the game and Puch were breaking away every five minutes or so and although we had 70% of the ball there were not that many clear shots on goal and Puch could have been two up at the break. The difference being that we were a bit tighter than recently and Vasilij looks like the right bloke to have up front. As far as Puch’s strike force is concerned there must be some training camp in the mountains where players learn how to shoot wide or over the bar from five metres away. Zell am See, Maria Alm and Puch all send their strikers there, seemingly, as Puch couldn’t seem to hit the ground with an aeroplane.
The first incident of any note was a yellow for our mad Harry Hirsch on 28 minutes for dissent. From a neutral point of view with nothing to do the police might have quite enjoyed the game but as they were all hanging around in the sun or dozing in the shade of the big barn off to the right of the grandstand they must have got a shock on 45 minutes as Oliver Schmidt with the Bambi eyes that Barbara F loves put us all out of our misery. By that time I was on my fourth beer and my short term memory span fails to allow me to tell you whether it was a header or a shot, and quite frankly I couldn’t give a toss! 1-0 to Austria Salzburg. Half time.
With no noise coming from the grandstand the plod had the chance to nod off, knackered after all that chatting and smoking. Fortunately for the police there is no such thing as piece rate work, or time and motion, or productivity based pay. If we have to pay for this massive police presence I want to be searched by unfriendly policemen in Darth Vader uniforms with cattle prods, truncheons and taser guns; I want to be attacked by rabid police dogs and forced to empty my pockets and look into a camera. If I’m paying for this service as an Austria Salzburg fan I want value-for-money!
Second half. Police everywhere, stretching their legs, pulling out their cigs, patting the dogs, contemplating their navels, discussing ways of making the world a better place to live. Maybe they could have gone round the pitch to arrest Puch’s trainer for coaching outside his zone. The ref had theatrically sent him off behind the hoardings but he continued to bark out instructions. In a 50,000-seater stadium that might mean you are another twenty metres away from the pitch, but in Maxglan it means you are 50cm further back behind 3cm of zinc advertising boards. Criminal!
Five beers in the first 60 minutes is professional drinking and it took me a while to realise the second half was underway. Then I noticed that QPR Harry was hanging around below the stand in a yellow bib. He’d disguised himself as a security guard, maybe in the hope of finding a woman that is excited by the authority and latent violence exuded by security staff. I was certainly impressed, pissed as I was, and even though he was just hanging about outside the women’s toilets he was still working harder than the police.
Rottensteiner off – Federer on. Winkler off – Feldinger on. A couple of changes on the other side and a yellow for Puch, then on 77 minutes a miracle! Lubo Neubauer, the smallest player on the field, faster than tractor, heavier than a handbag, taller than the tallest blade of grass, a got his head to a cross from the left and finally gave us the emotional buffer we’d been waiting for. At 2-0 we could even afford to let in the mandatory one goal gift to away teams, so of course we didn’t. Despite the raucous noise up the other end of the pitch the police were quite happy to continue sleeping or smoking one last cigarette before the final show of strength – which also never materialised as they realised they had come overdressed for a children’s tea party.
After seven beers I didn’t even notice the final whistle and like all drunks, my lesser drinking companions all left me one by one. It began to rain. Nobody answered my desperate phone calls as I tried to find either a dry place to avoid drinking, or to find a drinking companion to get smashed with. As befit the drunken state I was in, I failed in both undertakings. So as I did almost twenty years ago I found myself staggering into town in broad daylight piss wet through with only my thoughts to keep me warm. Normally when your luck runs out you can guarantee the police will find you and ask you sarcastic questions like ‘have we been drinking sir?’ or ‘a little unsteady on our feet sir?’ But this Saturday the police must’ve been so knackered after policing our high risk game that I couldn’t have got arrested if I’d tried. Anyway, final score 2-0 home win for the Austria. Sha-la-la, la-la, la-la, la!
SV Austria Salzburg - FC Puch 2-0 (1-0)
Austria Salzburg played with:
Trappl; Urbanek, Schmidt, Milic, Hirsch; Rottensteiner (59. Federer), Mayer, Neubauer, Cavic (84. Schleindl); Winkler (62. Feldinger), Vasilj
1-0: Schmidt (45.) (Assist: Hirsch)
2-0: Neubauer (77.) (Assist: Urbanek)
Shots: Austria 23 / Puch 7
Shots on target: Austria 6 / Puch 1
Shots blocked: Austria 4 / Puch 0
Corners: Austria 3 / Puch 2
Fouls: Austria 26 / Puch 26
Offsides: Austria 8 / Puch 9
Yellow cards:
Austria: 1 (Hirsch, 28./criticism)
Puch: 1 (Essl, 60./criticism)
Salzburg, Austria-Platz Maxglan, 1150 spectators
Ref: Christian Struz; Assistants: Günther Lenerth, Christopher Resch

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