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Channel: Before The 'D'...Association Football around the world, 1863-1937.
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Karl Pekarna

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In the summer of 1904 the Austro- Hungarian Empire received a healthy dose of Scottish Football. Celtic and Rangers had finished  4th and 3rd  respectively in the league, and Celtic had beaten Rangers 3-2 in the Scottish Cup Final.
In May of that year both Glasgow sides traveled to Vienna and Prague on tour. Wiener AC had invited Celtic, whereas Rangers had been invited by the Austrian Football association to mark the 10th anniversary of First Vienna.The forward thinking Hugo Meisl was instrumental in arranging contact with British clubs as a means of developing the game in Austria.
Boldklubben af 1893 (Copenhagen) were also invited to participate in First Vienna's celebrations.


22.05.04

First Vienna

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7

Glasgow Rangers

Vienna

23.05.04

Boldklub 1893

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Glasgow Rangers
26.05.04

Boldklub 1893

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5

Glasgow Rangers
29.05.04

Wiener AC

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8

Glasgow Rangers
03.06.04

Prague XI

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Glasgow Rangers
Prague

05.06.04

Slavia Prague

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5

Glasgow Rangers

As you can see, Rangers' trip was pretty much par for the course for Edwardian continental tours- undefeated and averaging 7 goals a game. A by-product of the journey (other than tales of postcards written by the Rangers goalie during the Wiener AC match whilst his teammates kept the ball for over 5 minutes with an exhibition of passing) was the signing of an Austrian goalkeeper.
Karl Pekarna, a postman, began his career with a Vienna club confusingly calleFC Sevilla.He joined First Vienna as an 18 year old and developed a good reputation- he was an exponent of what was known in Austria as the Robinsonade - the diving save, and showed good acrobatic and handling skills. The first game between Rangers and Boldklub 1893 was affected by torrential rain, and as the matches were intended to be exhibitions, the Danes suggested that they should replay in more favourable conditions.
Rangers borrowed Pekarna for the rematch, and he impressed to the extent that they offered him a contract. John Watson's position as Ranger's keeper was not assured, although he received positive reviews in the press following the Cup Final, he would play only 25 games for the club, and Rangers had signed Allan from Falkirk at the beginning of May.
In October 1904 Pekarna played for Vienna v Budapest in a city select match that was later granted the status of a full international. He would  represent Austria on one  more occasion, in 1908.
Later that year Pekarna moved to Glasgow, thus becoming Rangers' first overseas signing and Austria's first professional.

 

 Pekarna featured regularly for the reserves, but played only one first team game,a friendly against Queen's Park at Hampden (08.05.05). He was offered an extension of his £3 10s a week contract, but opted to return to Vienna.

 
Pekarna (Bayern) beaten by Fuchs (Karlsruher FV)

One problem that Pekarna had on his return to Vienna was the fact that he had been a professional in Scotland. Austrian football was still amateur. First Vienna re signed him, but were threatened with expulsion by the city's Association. The matter was resolved in the September of 1905.
Pekarna joined FC Wacker München in 1908, but again his status as a former professional caused uncertainty. Eventually he joined FC Bayern in 1910.
 He returned to Vienna after the war, playing for Slovan.

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