Anniversary: ​​120 years ago today GAK first practiced

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Golden moments and dark hours, title celebrations and bankruptcy filings – 120 years ago, the first stone was laid in Graz Gaidorf. “If the master carpenter can fix the gate (sic!) by Saturday, training will begin on Sunday,” said the August 13, 1902 Sporttagblatt. Then there was Monday. On August 18, 1902, the first team training session of the Graz athletics club took place on the former “Hauptmühlwiese”, where the red hearts found their home, where today an apartment building has been replaced by a football stadium. was the focus of the all-around club, which was modeled after the Vienna Athletics Sports Club.

120 years ago, the founding members around engineering student Karl Merkel brought to life the charm of GAK that continues to this day. From the start, the then very young team celebrated a 3-2 derby victory over the Academic Sports Association, which previously kept Merkel & Co out because they were not academics or students, and thus contributed to the creation of the Association. GAK. The meadow on the Körösistraße has been home to red jackets for over 100 years. Prior to the opening of today’s Merkur Arena, GAK played its home games at the legendary Casino Stadium.

Photograph of the Körösistras stadium from 1912 with a newly built stand.
© GAK

However, the fans saw their Red Devils’ first big success at the federal stadium in Liebenau, where GAK spent its eleven-year break from 1975 to 1986. Under coach Wenzel Halama, Graz became the first Styrian club to win a national title. and defeated Austria Salzburg in the cup final. Returning to the expanded casino stadium, GAK rose from the top division for the first time since being relegated in 1974 and remained in the second division for five years – before the greatest successes in the club’s history followed.

Golden years gave way to the darkest hours

In 2000, GAK managed to repeat the cup success, again against Austria Salzburg, against Tyrol the redjackets also won the Super Cup. The last Bundesliga game took place in Gajdorf four years earlier, and in 2005 the stadium was finally demolished. For its 100th anniversary, GAK again presented itself with Cup and Super Bowl wins. Coach Walter Schachner, fired from Wiener Austria, moored in Graz, led the team from last place to a runner-up title and in 2004 to a historic double.

In the subsequent Champions League qualifier, the Austrian champions faced eventual winners Liverpool and not only gave the Reds their only defeat of the entire 2004/05 Anfield competition, but also thanks to Mario Tokic’s memorable goal win as first-team home team . on the island. 1-0 was not enough for the rise due to the 0-2 defeat in Graz.

The darkest hours in GAK’s long history followed between 2007 and 2012: after three averted bankruptcy filings, a forced relegation to the regional leagues, and a missed promotion, a fourth bankruptcy filing could not be prevented. But the charm of GAK could not be killed, first as GAC and soon again as GAK 1902 (inclusion in the GAK head association followed in 2014), a new start was made in 1st grade. This was followed by an incomparable promotion to the 2nd league, while still being a regional league, the “master of all classes” knocked out Wiener Austria in February 2019 in front of more than 12,000 spectators in the cup quarter-final.

After many years of base football in Weinzödl, GAK’s new home, Rotjacken is now playing like a professional team again in Liebenau. In June of this year, GAK again received a football academy license after losing its status due to the transition to the regional league. Soon the Yunuzoviches, Zabitzers, Gregoriches and Lazaros of tomorrow will contribute to a successful future. The GAK 120th Anniversary Celebration in Weinzödl will also kick off on September 2nd with the Academy Youth Games, which will run throughout the weekend. Final – away game in Kapfenberg on Sunday (12:30).

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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