Posted: 7/9/2013


     Fleetwood Town, THE COD ARMY, are training at the most beautiful sportschule in Europe in the tiny village of Obertraun in Upper Austria. Tuesday night they had their first training match in the capital of Salzkammergut, the former summer Imperial Court of the Hapsburg Empire.

    Graham Alexander's squad were pitted against SV Bad Ischl in the 4th regional tier of Austrian fussball at their picturesque OKO-BOX Stadion, right next to the train station.  I crossed 4 sets of tracks, parted a hedge, slid down a stony embankment and in by the back fence.

      It certainly wasn't an imperial entrance by any stretch of the imagination... but the train was late.  Football's Coming Home and Hey Hey Goodbye was the entertainment for the 300 or so fans who showed up for an early 6.00 pm kick-off.  It only took 5 minutes for Town to score the first of eight on the night. Jamille Matt met a cross from Shaun Beeley and jumped high and mightily to head it in. 1-0.

      Goalie Mark Roberts had few dangerous balls to deal with and had a fairly uneventful evening. Matty Blair scored the second from close range and then a Gareth Evans piledriver from 30 metres out.  Matty Blair again plus a brace each from Jon Parkin and Junior Brown for a comfortable 8-0 victory. Next up is Apoel Nicosia across the German border on Friday at Wacker Arena, home of Bundesliga 3 club Wacker Burghausen.

     I enjoyed a radler in the clubhouse bar. The drink is 50% beer and 50% lemonade. Named after the german for cyclists, it ensures that they can quench their thirst without getting drunk and falling off their bikes on a hot day out.

    Bad Ischl is the capital of the Salzkammergut region. where salt mining has brought wealth for over 3,000 years. On the banks of the River Traun, it has been busy since 1262 AD. In the 19th Century brine baths and the arrival of the trains helped make tourism popular, as it is today. 

     On August 19th 1853 Franz Joseph was engaged to Elizabeth of Bavaria. She was known as SISI. His mother Archduchess Sophie gave the couple KAISERVILLE-an Imperial Villa, as a wedding present, and it became the summer residence of the Hapsburg Empire. Heaven on Earth he called it, and he also built a nearby mansion for his mistress Katharina Schratt, with a discreet hidden footpath linking both residences.

    At The Kaizerville on 28th July 1914, Franz Joseph signed a declaration of war against The Kingdom of Serbia, signalling the outbreak of WORLD WAR l.  He left the next day and never returned.