West Ham United v Sportklub Rapid 1-1

It was exactly 60 years ago that my favourite clubs West Ham United and SK Rapid Vienna played each other for the first and only time in their history. It was a friendly under the lights of the Boleyn Ground in London. The match between then 2nd Division club West Ham United and the Austrian record champion ended with a draw (1-1) on 15 November 1955.

The clubs from Vienna and London have a lot in common: Rapid Vienna was founded in 1898 as “1. Wiener Arbeiter Fussballklub” (First Vienna Workers FC) while West Ham had been founded in 1895 as “Thames Irownworks FC”. Both clubs were reformed and changed their names a short time afterwards, in 1899 “Sportclub Rapid” adopted its current name, and the Hammers are West Ham United Football Club since 1900.

The teams initially played in colours which are different from today’s kits: Rapid’s original colours were red and blue, which are still often used in away matches, before they changed to green and white six years later. On the other hand West Ham changed their colours form dark blue to claret and blue in 1899, the year which Rapid Vienna came into existence under its current name.

Both clubs have played in two European Cup Winners’ Cup Finals; West Ham won the Cup in 1965 and lost the final in 1976, SK Rapid played in the finals 1985 and 1996 and unfortunately lost out on both ocasions. West Ham and Rapid both lost their finals in Brussels in 1976 and 1996 respectively.

Moving to new grounds next season

Currently there is a big coincidence between the two clubs which have not met on the pitch since their first game in 1955:

West Ham and Rapid will move to their new grounds at the beginning of the next season: West Ham will play in the London OS from 2016/17 and Rapid will play at their new “Allianz Stadium” which is being built at Huetteldorf, the part of Vienna’s 14th district where Rapid’s home has been since 1911.

Interestingly one of Rapid’s new merchandise is showing crossed hammers and a ball, a perfect symbol of the roots of the club which are the same  kind of foundations that West Ham has – the working class people and their love for the game of football.

West Ham now have a former player of Rapid in their team; the Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic played for the Viennese Boys in green before he was signed by Glasgow Rangers, and he helped Rapid to overcome Aston Villa and qualify for the Europa League in 2009.

Match Report from 1955:

Earlier blog post on coincidences SK Rapid / West Ham United:

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