Saturday, 17 July 2010

LASK Linz (Austria)

Linzer Linz - so good they named them twice! Indeed, LASK Linz are perhaps the only club in this list, and perhaps anywhere, where the name of their home town is mentioned more than once in their official name. Formed in 1908 by Alebert Seims - the head of the local post office garage - as an offshoot of the existing athletics club Linzer Athletik Sportklub Siegfried, they originally went under the name of Linzer Sportclub for the first eleven years of their existence before changing it to Linzer Athletik Sport-Klub in 1919.

The club preferred to the shorter Linzer ASK, but fans, being what they are, shortened it further to a simple LASK. And LASK they remained until 1995, when the Linz city elders decided that they wanted the wider world to know where LASK came from, but also feared that, as LASK was now an internationally known footballing trademark, any major change in the name may cause further confusion. So they now lumber under a committee-decided name that translates into English as Linz Athletic Sports Klub from Linz. the joy of beaurocracy, eh!

In more important football matters, they are perhaps most famous as being the first club from outside Vienna to win the Austrian League back in 1965 - a year they also did the cup and league double. They also have a moderately successful European career - the highest spot of which was when they beat Inter Milan in the first leg of a UEFA Cup secord round tie back in 1985 - although they did get hammered 4-1 in the return match.

They play at the multi-purpose Linzer Stadion - known more commonly to the locals as Auf der Gugl - built in 1952,  and which can hold up to 30,138 happily singing punters. It's also the local gig stadium for that part of the country, and the King of Pop Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith have all played shows there.

They are also notable though as being one of the very few major Austrian teams who have never displayed a sponsor's logo as part of their name. Although the thought of them being sponsored by the Bank of Linz or Linz Rent-a-Car and adding a third Linz to their name is perhaps just a tad too much to bear.

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