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The Importance of Being Important

The Importance of Being Important

After the stress and strain of the previous spring games and the psychological Achilles of playing the return game against Saalfelden, first team to have beaten us in the autumn, 1400 fans descended upon a sunny Maxglan football ground to help Austria Salzburg hold off the peloton and break the back of our closest rivals in the first half of the season. Despite going into the game with a tight stomach in hope more than expectation, we put on a show of relative dominance which ended in a 2-1 home win and three points for the promotion run-in.

Of course, it’s not that I want to make a habit of delivering my match reports two minutes before the next game, but like two weeks ago my customers all conspired to ensure I had no chance to write a word until the end of the week. I’d been getting phone calls and e-mails and translations and requests for estimates without as much as a break to have a ***t. Just because I have a lot of work it doesn’t mean I’m rich or important, but I am intending to invest in this ‘future fund’, even if the new stadium does not bear my name.
Anyway, although it’s been a busy few weeks I took time to look at the teams as they came out. The popular wisdom is that now Fekete has left for more lucrative fields, Saalfelden has become a toothless tiger; which is a nice theory – somewhat supported by their slump over the last few weeks, but bearing in mind we lost the away game with both their top strikers missing there was no reason on our part to get cocky. So when QPR Harry was taking bets for his sweepstakes I p++++d on his fire by choosing the score I considered to be most likely. 2-1 for the Austria. For a €2 stake I was expecting to be able to buy the club with my winnings.
On our side Peter Urbanek started the game on the bench with Raphael Reifeltshammer moving into the starting formation. Maybe Urbanek got a bollocking for going up front too often like Lucio did at Bayern Munich – I don’t know. Didn’t do us any harm though as in the first quarter of an hour Austria dominated the game and it was obvious Saalfelden were defending a lead they didn’t have and waiting for that one chance. With Mayer seemingly further out on the wing the midfield looked better balanced than of late and we had Saalfelden chasing the game in the opening period. On 18 minutes this dominance translated into a lead as Winkler converted after a series of passes that demoted most of the Saalfelden team to spectators. 1-0 and we were feeling a bit more important again.
And of course, I wouldn’t lie – having spent the whole week on the phone and in front of the computer I couldn’t really expect to have any peace on Saturday afternoon. First call was from Flavio Briatore to ask me if I knew where Naomi Campbell was. He’d heard she was in Austria, but I told him I couldn’t speak because it was too loud and I was at an Austria Salzburg football match. Sorry Flavio. Anyway, on 31 minutes I witnessed the first free kick in the recent history of Austria Salzburg to be absolutely superbly executed. Step-over – pass – step-over – diagonal pass – Berndt Winkler – bang 2-0. Brilliant stuff. Like they’d practised it!
Buzz – buzz. ‘Hi Flavio, what’s up?’. Flavio said he was unhappy in London and thinking of selling QPR and investing in a European club. ‘Sorry Flav, it’s too loud. We’ve just scored again. I’ll call you later’ (I lied). With the score at 2-0 at the break it was time for the next beer when the phone went again. ‘It’s Bernie’.
Bernie who?
‘Bernie Ecclestone’.
Like I cared. Bernie wanted to know if we had any good defenders, and I couldn’t lie.
‘Yes, Bernie, we do; but I don’t think you can afford them.
Bernie asked me who I could do. I said I’m not his agent or anything but Mario Milic is the most valuable player we have at the moment. Bernie wanted to know how much Mario Milic would cost and I put the phone down on him and hoped I would get some peace for the next 45 minutes.
No chance! No sooner had the line gone dead - the next SMS is on the way. It’s Naomi Campbell asking for Mario Milic’s telephone number. Somehow I figure Bernie must be trying to get at Flavio. I don’t give her it because it would break Lubo’s heart. She’s not good for him. She only got together with Lubo after she heard that Christiano Ronaldo wasn’t available. I don’t trust Naomi, she’ll make Lubo depressed, which is bad for Austria Salzburg – and Mario is such a teddy bear Naomi would eat him for breakfast and s**t out the bones. Somehow it’s been one of those weeks.
Fortunately, there were no more calls until an SMS buzzed in after 15 minutes of the second half. Bad news. It’s Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai bloke who bought and sold man City and is now stuck in the middle of extreme political turmoil in Thailand. Just as I finish reading the message, Rudolf Schoder pulls one back for Saalfelden on 59 minutes. I knew it would be bad news. 2-1. I guess Thaksi was looking to buy Austria Salzburg. Over there they have lots of political movements but none of them wear purple so I texted back with a ‘NO’.
He must have been talking to Sven Göran Erikson recently because as soon as Helmut Rottensteiner came on for Lubo Neubauer on 62 minutes the mobile rang again and Sven’s name lights up:
‘Yo Sven – what’s happening?’ I say.
‘Is it true that Naomi is going out with Lubo?’, he wants to know.
‘What’s this information worth, Sven?’
Apparently somebody called QPR Harry had called from Salzburg to get Naomi’s telephone number from Sven but I found it all a bit tasteless, so I gave Sven Susan Boyle’s number instead. I met Susan at the after show party for ‘Britain’s got Talent’, but I would rather not explain how I got her phone number. Anyway, 12 minutes later Mario Schleindl is on for Zarko Cavic and QPR Harry gets an SMS from Sven Göran Erikson and is feeling all important and grinning like a dancing bear because he’s meeting a special British girl tonight. I tell him to say ‘Susi’ when she calls – all British girls want to be called Susi. I guess he’s hoping for a result on the sweepstake but unfortunately for Harry there were no more goals.
Full time, 2-1 and QPR Harry is avoiding eye-contact with everybody who tipped 2-1 for the Austria. I work out that my winnings must be about €150,000 but Harry says I have only won €6. I don’t argue as I can’t do maths but I have the feeling something has gone wrong. Harry is looking nervously at his mobile like he’s waiting for some supermodel to call, but then he cheers up as ‘Susi’ rings him and agrees to meet him on the balcony of the Chinese next to the ground. However, watching from the balcony Harry looks somewhat confused as I kiss Naomi Campbell on both cheeks as I leave the stadium. She’s been waiting for me for the last half hour, so I introduce myself as Mario Milic.
SV Austria Salzburg - FC Pinzgau Saalfelden 2-1 (2-0)
Austria Salzburg played with:
Trappl; Milic, Reifeltshammer, Schmidt, Hirsch; Mayer, Federer, Neubauer (62. Rottensteiner), Feldinger; Cavic (72. Schleindl), Winkler
1-0: Winkler (19.) (Assist: Neubauer)
2-0: Winkler (32.) (Assist: Mayer)
2-1: Schoder (59.)
Shots: Austria 13 / Saalfelden 11
Shots on target: Austria 6 / Saalfelden 5
Shots blocked: Austria 1 / Saalfelden 1
Corners: Austria 3 / Saalfelden 3
Fouls: Austria 41 / Saalfelden 25
Offsides: Austria 4 / Saalfelden 5
Yellow cards:
Austria: 2 (Hirsch, 69./foul; Rottensteiner, 81./foul)
Saalfelden: 3 (Unterberger, 31./foul; Tosic, 37./foul; Benedek, 50./foul)
Salzburg, Austria-Platz Maxglan, 1450 spectators
Ref: Ing. Michael Pointner; Assistants: Josef Doppler, Michael Wirnsberger

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