Steve Scott and His First Real Life Experience of Hungarian Football
DVTK vs Haladás – NBI
For me, going to a Hungarian football match is long overdue.
I am 37 years old and have been visiting Hungary since I was a baby. I was born in Britain to a Hungarian mother and in my formative years we used to travel to Hungary together. We often used to pass the strange segmented oval-like terracing of Miskolc’s one number team – Diósgyőr (or DVTK) – the club that used to represent the city’s steel works. Despite the fact that DVTK won the Hungarian Cup in 1980 (one of only two trophy victories) qualifying for the Cup Winners Cup and losing 7-2 to Celtic on aggregate, a young impressionable 6 year old like myself at the time fell for the glamour of Ferencváros – the most celebrated Hungarian club. I later found out that I was actually born on the club’s 75th anniversary although my support for the club was rather tempered when I then discovered they were the club of the far right.
Information on Hungarian football was very hard to come by in the 1980s, so I ended up doing other things liking supporting a top flight English team and becoming obsessive about that. In fact my interest in Hungarian football only warranted a fleeting glimpse at Hungarian club websites before the very excellent HungarianFootball.com reawakened my latent interest in Magyar Foci (and the editor didn’t even pay me to say that!).
Therefore on the last weekend in October 2011 I packed my bags to visit Hungary, once again with my mother, to realise the dreams of a 6 year old.
I heard that a tobacconists shop in a Miskolc shopping centre sold tickets for DVTK games. This sounded surreal and it entered my head if this was some kind of Magyar revenge for the MontyPython sketch about a Hungarian in a British tobacconists. However this was not the case when I held the ticket in my hand and realised that I was at last going to be attending my first ever Hungarian football match. DVTK versus Haladás.
As I approached the ground for this televised Friday evening kick off, I noticed that there was not a plethora of DVTK replica shirts, as the home fans might support for an English league game, but nearly everybody was dressed in the distinctive red and white of DVTK. There were food stalls around the ground, but they weren’t franchised, they were on fold-out tables selling the likes of hot dogs and the ubiquitous sunflower seeds. The latter being the mainstay of Hungarian spectator sport for many a decade.
Despite having my seated ticket for sector ‘R’ of the ground, finding my seat was somewhat a chore. I approached the ticket office and in my pigeon Hungarian asked where my seat was. I was given a load of instructions that I didn’t understand but I followed the arm movements and ended up at sector ‘A’. At this point the man-mountain security guard checking tickets took pity on me and let me in.
Inside I found a seat in a modern all-seater structure, opposite a more traditional, almost British-style stand. Behind each goal was old school terracing, split into segments, with the Ultras away to the right and 21 (yes I counted them) very committed Haladás fans that made one of the longest trips in Hungarian football from Szombathely to the left.
As kick-off time neared a man with a mic was strolling around the pitch whipping up the Diósgyőr support into a frenzy. I likened it at the time to a comedian’s warm-up act … if we can get the crowd chanting before the players have even proved themselves, then everything served up in front of them will be appreciated.
DVTK (who started the game in 5th position in NB1) and Haladás (10th) entered the field of play in the FIFA-specified manner with the referee leading them out. But adding a twist the players of first Haladás and then DVTK leaning one shoulder forward and in team unison raised an arm and shouted their team name.
The game started slowly. The key men in the first half for DVTK were Igor Gal, the rock-like Croatian centre-half and Francisco ‘Paco’ Gallardo the Spanish winger. The latter having a rather infamous claim to fame when he bit on a part of Jose Antonio Reyes body whilst celebrating a Seville goal that would bring tears to most men’s eyes. For Haladás, István Kovács was causing some problems when he ran at the DVTK defence.
The half however will be remembered for a moment of brilliance from DVTK’s other Spanish import, José Luque. His dipping free-kick from the right fooled everyone and most importantly Haladás’ ‘keeper before landing in the back of the net. Luque ran across the running track and straight to the bench to celebrate.
The remainder of the half began to fade away, but it gave me opportunity to mix with some of the home fans who seemed a little perplexed as to why I would come to Hungary to watch DVTK. Anyway it was a good ice breaker whilst we drank the local beer, Borsodi, delivered to our seat during the game and available after a very short queue at half time. Oh how so un-Premier League it all was, especially at 300 Forints (around 90p) a pint.
Haladás is the Hungarian word for progress and try as they might the team from Szombathely made little progress against the DVTK defence in the second half. DVTK’s French substitute l´Imam Seydi broke through the Haladás defence on a couple of occasions but wasted the opportunities. Although DVTK came closest when a corner was deflected onto the bar by a Haladás defender.
All things considered, it wasn’t the best football match I had ever seen, but the atmosphere inside the ground was far greater than I had expected, with the noisy ultras inviting the rest of the crowd to join in which they did. Before the 90 minutes were over I found myself joining in with a rendition of “Hajrá Diósgyőr”.
(Goal at 45 seconds)
MVSC vs Aszaló – County League (Group A)
The following day I delved into the Hungarian County leagues. Outside of the top flight, Hungarian football is regionalised. NBII is split into East and West divisions, whilst the next step down are the County leagues. Miskolc is the county town of the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county and the game I chose to view was at the ground of Miskolci Vasutas Sport Club or as they are currently known MVSC-TS Hungária. MVSC are the railway club of Miskolc and their ground is neatly positioned between the city’s main station and goods yard.
I have wanted to attend a MVSC game for a long time. Their ground is only a stone’s throw from where my grandmother lived and circa 1984, at a time when Hungarian replica shirts were rare, I owned a MVSC shirt.
As I approached the ground, I was a little concerned that I may have miss-read the kick off time as I heard a ref’s whistle. After paying my 300 Forints and confirming at the gate that kick off time was as expected at 1430, I noticed that the game may have actually been an under-18 game.
I took the opportunity to avail myself of the facilities and was greeted with the most rancid of toilet blocks in all my years watching football – a room strewn with rubbish with a gutter running around the edge. As I left and started to shake my shoes dry I saw MVSC youth score and then once again before full time. Some Internet research when I returned home revealed that I was actually watching the tail-end of the U19 version of the main event, MVSC v Aszaló, and the U19s finished in a 5-0 home rout.
MVSC’s ground is a tidy affair, arranged in a bowl around narrow cinder running track and nestled between the City’s main station and goods yard. The banking behind one goal has been converted to grass with the club building behind the other. A neat covered seating area of wooden benches runs the length of one side of the ground and the opposite side is terracing. But the best feature? Square goalposts!
Before the game started I took my place on the terracing. There were no vendors on site, although an adjacent söröző (pub) with it’s own crumbling castle turret added atmosphere to the scene, those that were drinking seemed to bring their own beer, and of course sunflower seeds.
The two teams came out side-by-side and like their NB1 counterparts the previous day the players dropped a shoulder and raised their arms as they shouted their team names. First the visitors and then the home team. Bearing in mind the rather long name of the hosts they sufficed with a shout of “vasút!”(rail).
I estimated the crowd to between 90 and 100 although this was officially recorded at 150. As the match started a group of around 15- 20 men were as passionate as any despite the relatively low crowd. As I mentioned earlier my knowledge of the Hungarian language isn’t great but I definitely got the gist of what was being said. I think this says more about my appreciation for Hungarian swear words than constructive criticism fired towards the referee, although I did recognise the word “szemüveg” (spectacles).
The first half was a quiet affair,although the stand-out player for me was MVSC’s Balász Salap, who despite wearing the no.4 shirt played at left back.
The second half started ablaze with Aszaló, who started the day in 4th (MVSC were 10th), taking the the lead on 48 minutes. A cross from the right was turned in by Erik Kosztek.This sparked MVSC into life and they really should have equalised on 67 minutes, when after good work down the flank by the right winger a on-rushing midfielder made it an easy save for the Aszaló ‘keeper. Ádám Szemerszky used his trickery to get the to the Aszaló byline on 75 minutes, but his cross was agonisingly just inches away from the boot of Roland Tóth as he dreamt of making it 1-1.
Three minutes later, MVSC captain Gábor Jóner met an in-swinging free-kick with his head which was held comfortably by the Aszaló ‘keeper (Lajos Lövey).
On 89 minutes, Aszaló really should have doubled their tally when it really would have been easier for Kosztek to score, blasting over from 2 yards out. It was a proper a RonnieRosenthal moment and the miss of the season no matter what level of football you watch.
In injury time, with MVSC overloading the Aszaló penalty area, Lászlo Gábor Tóth broke for Aszaló, ran half the length of the pitch, rounded the MVSC ‘keeper and slotted home, before sliding on his knees towards the corner flag. It was 2-0 to the visitors and that’s how it finished. However there was still enough time for Kosztek to get a straight red. I didn’t see the incident, but I would like to think the referee sent him off for his earlier miss alone.
On my way out of the ground I was approached by some home fans who I had previously contacted through Facebook to confirm the match details. They also seemed surprised that I should make the trip to MVSC, but for me it was a trip that I will always remember. I have watched football at Wembley, the Millenium Stadium, the Emirates, Old Trafford and Nou Camp to name just a few, but the visit to DVTK and MVSC will be cherished just as fondly!