My Budapest Team

Instead of returning to Hungary the club embarked on a ‘World Tour’ playing fundraising matches in Italy, Spain and Portugal (organised by the iconic manager Bela Guttmann).  They were offered political asylum and the opportunity to play in the Mexican Championship, an offer they declined in order to compete in a tournament in Brazil.  The club was later declared illegal by UEFA and banned from using the name Honved.  Upon returning to Europe the players parted ways with many, Puskas in particular, finding new clubs and success in Western Europe; thus ending one of football’s saddest and most romantic tales.

As the eagle-eyed amongst the readers of my last post, Old Firm Memories, will have noted, at the time of writing I was preparing to leave Scotland for a new adventure in Budapest.  For those of you who are new to my ramblings thanks for finding me and I hope you enjoy reading this article.

Since writing ‘Old Firm Memories’ I have indeed made my life changing move to Hungary and to a small apartment in Budapest’s 13th District – it’s all very Hunger Games sounding and I’m hoping I don’t get selected as our annual Tribute.

Our flat is next to the M3 Metro line, a market, one of Budapest’s many large shopping malls, two parks and a nursery.  Location wise it ticks all the boxes for my partner, our daughter and I.  However, there is one box that still needs to be ticked for me; I need a local football team to follow.

Celtic are and will always remain my team, they are my first love.  However, if I am to make this adventure work I’ll need a Hungarian team to follow so I can immerse myself into the local football culture.  Being based in Budapest I have the choice of five top-flight teams to follow; Ferencvaros, Honved, MTK, Ujpest, and Vasas.

My knowledge of Hungarian football is quite limited really.  I know of the Mighty Magyars, of Puskas, Kubala, Kocsis and Grosics etc.  I know that Ferencvaros wear green and white and that when I was a little boy I played a dice based football game and created a team called Honved United because I thought the name Honved sounded cool.  I also know that the revolution of 1956 effectively destroyed the great Honved side of that era and, with it, set Hungarian football back decades.

The Mighty Magyars: One of world football’s finest ever teams including Puskas, Kocsis and Co.

My knowledge of modern of Hungarian football tells me that Zoltan Gera is a legend, that Balazs Dzsudzsak was always one of my first signings in Football Manager 2008, and that Adam Szalai is a bit of a cart horse with a great ability at prove me wrong – during the game against Austria at the Euro’s I slated his performance moments before he scored the opener (I like to think he took my criticism on board and responded to it in a positive manner).  I am also aware that Gabor Kiraly’s trackie bottoms are the coolest thing in football.  Ever.

Just look at those trackies and bask in their greatness.

A further personal link to Hungarian football is that the first ever full Scotland international I attended just so happened to be against a Hungary side coached by Lothar Matteus during the ill fated Berti Vogts era.  Hungary thumped Scotland 3-0 that night which possibly makes it one of Vogts’ better results as Scotland manager.

However, I don’t really know all that much about the national game and certainly not enough to know which team I should support based on the social, cultural and historic backgrounds of the Budapest based clubs; I prefer to make my judgements on these criteria (as well as attractiveness of play) rather than just picking the club I happen to live closest to or the most successful.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to do a bit of background research on the runners and riders in the race to become my Budapest team to help me come to a decision.

I’ll start my run through in alphabetical order.

Ferencvaros

Fradi are probably the most well known Hungarian outside of Hungary and, I believe, the most popular within the country. Their fame is due in part to being Hungary’s most successful club having won 29 Hungarian League titles, 22 Hungarian Cups, 6 Hungarian Super Cups, and 1 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1964-65 against Juventus.  As a result of their Inter Cities Fairs success Fradi are the only Hungarian club to have ever won a European cup competition.

According to the prominent Hungarian football website hungarianfootball.com Ferencvaros’ initial following came from the poor and blue collar workers of Budapest’s 9th District.  They also garnered support from other poor areas of the country, thus helping to establish Ferencvaros as the nations most popular football team by the start of WW2.

As pointed out in the hungarianfootball.com article, Ferencvaros have lived a chequered life since the outbreak of WW2 and German occupation of Hungary.  The club was forcibly taken over by the right-wing, Nazi aligned Arrow Cross political party due to its popularity amongst the working class and anti-establishment ethos.  During the Communist era Fradi were so feared by the ruling Communist Party that the clubs name was taken away from it for a spell, replaced by the name Kiniszi. Such was the anti-establishment feeling associated with the club that it became known as the ‘Hungarian People’s Club’ during this period.  The name Ferencvaros was restored in 1956 following the Hungarian Revolution.

In more recent years Ferencvaros has had to deal with a growing hooligan problem which has seen the club fined by UEFA on several occasions and led to the introduction of hi-tech scanning of fans upon entry to the their new Groupama Arena stadium.

Side Note:  Ferencvaros  wear green and white, an obvious appeal to a Celtic fan – stripes not hoops – and are also known as The Green Eagles in reference to the clubs mascot.

Honved

The story of Budapest Honved is massive and one that I cannot do justice with just a few short lines.

Honved are based in Kispest, the 19th District of Budapest, and were once known as the Army team after being taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence in 1949. The club is now owned by the American-Hungarian businessman George Hemingway and is no longer associated with the army.

However, Honved’s most successful era coincided with its ownership by the Army during the 1950’s when the club won the national league title on four occasions.  The team was also blessed during this period with the talents of many of the famous Mighty Magyars including the Sandor Kocsis, Gyula Grosics and the legendary Ferenc Puskas playing for the club during this period.

Unfortunately, Honved’s success was to be short lived with the Hungarian revolution of 1956 having a major impact on the club. After losing to Athletic Bilbao and being knocked out of the European Cup, the Honved players refused to return to Hungary amidst the troubles and uncertainties of the times and Budapest being under Soviet control.

Instead of returning to Hungary the club embarked on a ‘World Tour’ playing fundraising matches in Italy, Spain and Portugal (organised by the iconic manager Bela Guttmann).  They were offered political asylum and the opportunity to play in the Mexican Championship, an offer they declined in order to compete in a tournament in Brazil.  The club was later declared illegal by UEFA and banned from using the name Honved.  Upon returning to Europe the players parted ways with many, Puskas in particular, finding new clubs and success in Western Europe; thus ending one of football’s saddest and most romantic tales.

It took Honved until the 1980’s before they next experienced League success winning 8 titles between 1979/80 to 1992/93.  Their most recent successes have come in the Hungarian Cup which they won in both 2006/07 and 2008/09, however, the current Honved team is a far cry from that of Puskas and Co and one wonders if they will ever recapture those heady days of sustained domestic titles.

MTK Budapest

Originally one of the big hitters in Hungarian football, and still one of the most successful with 23 League titles and 2 losing European final experiences (one in the European Cup, one in the Cup Winners Cup), MTK’s standing has fallen somewhat in recent years.  MTK’s most recent Nemzeti Bajnoksag 1 success came in the 2007/08 season, however, they suffered the embarrassment of relegation from the top-flight at the end of 2010/11.

MTK’s foundation was in stark contrast to that of Ferencvaros.  They were the bourgeoisie, the aristocratic and the rich of Budapest’s Jewish community and represented the establishment; they were everything that Fradi was not.

During the era of the Mighty Magyars, MTK provided the Nemzeti Tizenegy not only with star players such as Nandor Hidegkuti but also, if legend is to be beleived, with their famous 4-2-4 formation which MTK had pioneered.

As with most of Hungarian football MTK’s European success declined after the 1956 revolution however they did manage to make the final of the 1963/64 Cup Winners Cup Final, beating Celtic en route, before losing to Sporting Lisbon after extra time in the Final.

More recently MTK have failed to make an impression on the European scene however they have, until this season, picked up their domestic form finishing 3rd and 4th in each of the last two seasons respectively.

Side Note: In 2003 Celtic beat MTK in Champions League Qualifying.  During the first leg in Budapet Henrik Larsson set a new European goal scoring record for a player with a British club when he scored his 31st European goal for Celtic.

Ujpest

Winners of 20 Hungarian League titles, although none since the turn of the century, and 9 Hungarian Cups, Ujpest still rank among the top sides in Hungarian football history.

Initially formed as a general sports and athletic club – as most Hungarian football clubs were, and still are today – Ujpest appealed mainly to the working class of Ujpest which, at the time of the sport clubs formation was not yet an incorporated district of Budapest.  In later years the club took on the name of Ujpest Dozsa under the Communist regime and became the official ‘Police Club’ of Hungary.

The revolution in ’56 lead to further name changes; first to Ujpest TE as the club sought to rid itself of the stigma of Communism, however, after the revolution faltered the club was renamed once more as Ujpesti Dozsa.  Today the club goes by the name of Ujpest FC and are owned by the Belgian businessman Roderick Duchalet who, along with other members of his family, owns or have owned interest in clubs in Spain, Belgium, England and Germany.

Ujpest’s glory days occurred during the 1970’s when they won 7 league titles, including 5-in-a-row, however they also appeared the final of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1968/69 only to lose to Newcastle United.

They are possibly best know to Scottish and UK readers due to proposed link ups with Celtic and Wolves during the mid 2000’s however neither link has appeared to come to much aside from Willie McStay leaving Celtic to take on the managers role at Ujpest for a short period between 2009 to 2010.

On the subject of former managers with a link to Scottish football, ex-Dunfermline midfielder Istvan Kozma had a short spell at the helm during the 2013/14 season.

Vasas

Vasas was formed in 1911 by members of the Hungarian Union of Iron Workers, hence they are also known as the Metal Workers.  They are the least successful of the Budapest clubs featured in this article having won 6 League titles as well as 4 Hungarian Cups during their history.  If truth be told, I had no idea who they were until a few months ago.

From the research I’ve carried out Vasas appear to have had a fairly unremarkable history.  Of the League and Cup titles they have won all but two of them have come during a twenty year period from 1957 to 1977; their last success being the Hungarian Cup final of 1985/86.

As with the other clubs mentioned they are a multi-sports club rather than solely being a football club and it is the water polo and handball divisions of the club that seem to have been the most successful over the years.

Logistically Vasas’ Illovszky Rudolf Stadion is the closest to my flat (according to Google maps, I haven’t been to visit them all yet) which would make them my ‘local’ team, but is that enough to make them ‘my team’ in Budapest?  I’m not so sure.

Budapest Celtic

Talking of local teams, my local Scottish bar is the Caledonia Skot Pub which, as it happens, is the home of the world famous Budapest Celtic CSC who, also as it happens, run a football team – Budapest Celtic.  Maybe I won’t have to look that hard for a Budapest team to follow after all.  I’ve also brought my boots with me so who knows, I might even get to pull on those famous Hoops one day after all.

After consideration I’m leaning more towards Honved to my Budapest team; there’s the romance of the Puskas era and the fact I once named a made-up team after them (without knowing who they were).  However, I welcome any suggestions why I should pick another team along with comments on the article in general and Hungarian football.

Hail Hail.

To the best of my knowledge this article is historically accurate however if there are any inaccuracies I look forward to be further schooled on Hungarian football.  Apologies also for the Anglicised spelling of the team and players names.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “My Budapest Team

  1. Hi Kevin. If you have twitter get following @Magyar_bmb (me), @crusader120, @TMortimerFtbl and @DjGabyG. We are the guys (and gal) who run Hungarianfootball.com & we love welcoming new people to our group of avid NB1 fans. We’ll happily tell you who is who, teach you the rivalries, the friendships & watch and laugh as you look in shock at the insanity that is the NB1!! We’ll also rid you of anglicising the names 😉 We can’t promise you good football, we can promise you lots of laughs and banter though so come along & join us! Hajrá Honvéd. Csak a Kispest!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s