Csak a Kispest: The foreign Invasion

As the end of the season drew near, the one thing that caught all of our eyes was the fact that Match Day 33 had thrown up Budapest Honvéd v Videoton, a game that ordinarily would be vastly overshadowed by the big Budapest derby between Ferencváros v Újpest taking place just a few kilometers away. Not this season though! Honvéd were determined to sign out from the old ground with a bang and Videoton were as determined to pour water over their fireworks. Having been neck and neck for the past few weeks the stage was set for the big NB1 showdown at the Bozsik József Stadion on the final day. Equal on points, a fantastic campaign by both teams was coming down to the last day. Honvéd were in the slightly better position in 1st going into the match, a win or draw would see them take the title, Videoton in 2nd needed a win.

Out of our Magyar Foci group of twitter friends, Kevin was the first to say he was planning on going so whilst seething with jealousy I put him in touch with Dávid Gróf, Honvéds goalkeeper to assist with arranging tickets. A glance at my bank account was enough to say, no I can’t go but the lure of seeing Kispest play their last game at the stadium coupled with the huge nature of the game was just too much – I will make it up to my bank manager at some point! Make that 5 tickets you need to arrange was my message to Gróffy and with that before I could see sense and change my mind, there I was on the expedia website booking flights and hotel! Gróffy put us in touch with Gerencsér Orsolya, the lady in Honvéd’s ticket office who is assigned with dealing with those of us travelling from abroad. I mention her because she was excellent & I believe in giving credit where it’s due. Having gone through all of the choices with me, including sending photos of each area, I went for 2 box tickets for myself and my son. 10/10 for customer service Kispest! Kevin & his friends were in the same box – I think they were trying to minimise where they had us all really! Gaby was next to follow suit, he needed zero persuasion! Tom’s bank account read similar to mine, comments from the rest of us that he would regret not going was enough to put him in his bank managers bad books as well! So that was it – 3/4 of the Hungarianfootball.com team were booked and ready to leave. By a twist of fate, I was on the same flight out to Budapest as Gaby & the same flight home as Tom! Now it was Chris’s turn to seethe with jealousy – he did look into the cost of flights but being in the USA he had to say no and stick to it! Sorry Chris! A pre-match lunch was arranged with some of the Hungarian based lads and that was it – game & invasion on!

Travel day arrived, the taxi was picking Lewis and I up at 3.30am so there was no point in trying to sleep the night before. My normally grumpy teen was even grumpier than usual when we met up with Gaby at Luton airport, somewhere around 7am-ish! He soon perked up on the flight and by the looks of it managed to photograph every single cloud between Luton & Budapest – I’m not joking! We left Gaby at Budapest airport, he was off to visit family and we got our shuttle to the hotel. “See you tomorrow and stay out of trouble” – Gaby’s parting words! Lewis & I had arranged dinner & drinks with my friend Eszter – what could possibly go wrong! A Kispest fan staying in a hotel deep in the heart of district 9, just a few streets away from the Groupama, the night before football! A very civilised evening was spent drinking Cherry cider and eating chips! Grumpy teen declared tiredness and snuck back to the hotel quite early on, us girls drunk a bit more, chatted and laughed lots! I’m not sure what time I got back to the hotel, I was tired but happy.

The one thing I had noticed was that every person that I passed in the street smiled and said “Jó estét” (good evening) – wow not used to this living in the UK! I walk with the aid of crutches after a back injury that saw me medically retired from the prison service several years ago so I happily shuffled along at my own pace, enjoying the sights and the sounds. Next thing a police car pulls up next to me – uh oh the rendörség… The very nice, as it turned out, officer spoke to me in very fast Hungarian & was met with a blank stare before I was able to explain that I didn’t understand & only spoke very little Hungarian. Having established I spoke English, he asked me if I was ok & did I need a lift anywhere! Very sweet of him but I declined the lift managing to explain that the hotel was just around the corner. Whilst still congratulating myself on staying out of trouble I hobble into the hotel reception right into a huge group of very drunk Fradi fans! The biggest in the group, who made Gaby look like a 5yr old in terms of size, was holding a 1l plastic water bottle out at me and saying Palinká, palinká! As I was now surrounded, I wasn’t about to cause offence and therefore agreed to a shot of palinká! After 6 shots of homebrewed apple palinká, Mr big Fradi fan was rather miffed that I had not pulled one face while drinking it & was in fact still standing and speaking coherently! That whiskey running through my Northern Irish veins had finally stood me in good stead for something! Off he stomped, his gang of drunken friends in tow loudly declaring that there was no way I was from England and that I had to be Serbian! I have yet to work out if this was an intended insult or not but a very relieved (and rather drunk) me fell into bed about 1am!

Game day! My son’s alarm went off at 5.50am – try getting him up on a school day! After several cups of coffee off we went to Deák Tér to do the touristy bit. A 2 hour whistlestop tour of the biggest landmarks on the open bus followed and reinforced what I already knew – Budapest is beautiful! Arriving back at Deák Tér it was just a short walk down Király Utca to the Trófea Grill to meet the boys for lunch. Matyas and Danni were already there and we were soon joined by Gergo and Petya. Milkshakes (and a mountain of food for my teen) consumed in Goa Mamma Coffee house before we were joined by Gaby and Tom. The Hungarian based lads had to leave for work, the rest of us went over to Trófea grill for food. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Budapest – the food is very good! Soon after Kevin and Darren arrived it was time to head to the ground – it was already 4pm. The time had flown by. Having Gaby with us made the journey so easy, no frantic checking of metro station names or counting stops – it was a case of just follow Gaby! The tram was closed because of the now insignificant derby also being on, but the replacement bus took us to the tram stop we would need.

Now reality was kicking in – we were actually really walking towards the stadium. I was determined not to cry in front of the boys – I failed! With the noise from the fan zone in the background, flares, smoke bombs going off and lots of singing I just stood staring at the entrance to the ground not quite believing where I was. Kevin & Darren disappeared to soak up the atmosphere in the fanzone but I just wanted to be inside. The man on the gate directed me to reception – a small wooden table just inside the gate! Tickets in hand, off I went looking for the entrance we needed. I found the club shop – no stripey shirts available, I will get one, one day! I left with a mug, cushion and large Leo the Lion plushie instead. Thanks Tom for carrying that little lot around for me! Miraculously despite 9,000 people milling about, we never had any trouble finding each other again. My teen managed to wolf down 3 hot dogs while waiting in the line for drinks, you can take your drinks to your seats – including alcohol. Drinks in hand we went into the stand – at the wrong end & were directed to the other end by a very nice lady.  As we neared the stairs we needed, the National Anthem started up. A mix of amused and bemused looks our way as I belted it out loudly and proudly, not quite sure the Hungarians around us knew quite what to make of a woman with an English accent singing their anthem word perfectly! Finally we went up the stairs to our seats where we met the one and only unhelpful, rude member of staff at the club. The stewards are not what we see in England, they dress like the Rendörség and wear berets – they look very intimidating and this guy certainly enjoyed being intimidating as well! Having refused to look at our tickets or help us find our seats he then started yelling at us to sit down – well we would have mate but someone was sat in our seats & were refusing to move & he was not doing his job & helping! A kindly Kispest fan stepped in and helped, a combination of him reasoning with the people and me saying rather too loudly are you going to move or what saw them leave our seats and go back to their own at the back of the stand! Meanwhile Mr Security idiot just stood there shouting at us to sit down and preening himself!

Kevin, Darren & the nice helpful Kispest fan.

The game had started and Gróffy was in goal at our end. The game itself was pretty dire to be honest – it had dull, boring 0-0 written all over it. Neither team wanted to lose and the cagey affair on the pitch reflected this. The Kispest fans were nervous, you could feel the tension. The Vidi fans opposite were however in good voice and were totally out-singing the Kispest Ultras at the other end of the ground. It was no surprise that the teams went in at half time deadlocked. We were right above the tunnel so there were a few squeals of delight from me as the players were going in and I spotted all of my favourites! The start of the 2nd half was simply amazing – a series of flares started, first from the Kispest ultras. Perfectly spaced pools of light spaced out accompanied by red smoke – it looked awesome from our end of the pitch. The Vidi ultras response was even better – red, white and blue flares and smoke billowing out. The game had to be stopped briefly as the smoke reached us on the opposite side of the pitch – we could no longer see the Vidi Ultras or a large section of the pitch! I have to concede the Vidi ultras won the battle of the pyros!


It well and truly livened up then. Fans nerves were gone and the noise levels increased dramatically – Csak a Kispest ringing out loudly. The players responded and the battle on the pitch intensified.  We were treated to a moment of pure comedy gold from Danko Lazovic – winner of worst dive ever award! Not sure what was going on in his head at the time but it was as if his human mask had slipped and he had transformed into a fish out of water, flopping this way, that way, back the other way, I lost count of how many times – hilarious! I hope he realises that he will never live this down & he will be forever remembered for this moment alone! Disbelief gave away to complete hysterics, the home fans crying with laughter, the away fans hanging their heads in embarrassment at their players antics! Once he had finally finished flopping about he managed to jump up and try to confront the ref for the lack of free kick! Mr Bognár however, luckily for Lazovic, was too busy laughing himself to dig out his yellow card & book him for simulation! Lazovic strolled off of the pitch to receive treatment, accompanied by a very loud chorus of boohs!

As play re-started, the Vidi players were still reeling with the shock that they were playing with 10 men and a fish, Kispest knuckled down and got on with it, a great ball in from Ikenne-King was met by Eppel who cooly slotted it home – 1-0 Kispest and the home fans went mental. Vidi threw everything they had at Kispest in the last few minutes, but the Kispest defence were having none of it – the script had been written and nothing was going to ruin the fairytale ending of the soon to be demolished grounds long and proud history. This was our moment, 24 years of waiting, my ears are still ringing from the eruption of noise that accompanied the final whistle. Kispest – champions of Hungary! For the 2nd time that night I cried, this time however I was joined by many grown men!

As the celebrations slowed down on the pitch it was time to make our way back to the fan zone. We managed to lose my teen at one point but he finally turned up again! The fanzone was just mental, as we walked towards it, fireworks were going off at a rate of knots that make bonfire night seem tame! More squeals of delight from me as George Hemingway, Kispest owner, was driven past as we neared the gate! I stayed just outside the fanzone, it was chockablock in there, the ground is very uneven and I felt safer just standing at the periphery taking it all in. Music blaring, fans singing, enough palinká to sink a battleship, flares and smoke bombs going off with alarming regularity and the rendörség stood opposite watching. My teen was bouncing between me at the edge, Kevin and Darren inside and Gaby & Tom – a bit of sensory overload for him really. While stood there, there was a loud commotion to my left and next thing Marco Rossi swept by – he was there to party with the fans. The man was in tears, joy written all across his face and despite having just announced his resignation he wanted to enjoy this moment with the fans who have stood by him over the years – Respect Signor Rossi!

One particularly loud bang made me jump and I accidentally hit one of the ultras with my crutches – thankfully it was a good evening & the only consequence was being hugged by about 10 of them, lots of shouting Csak a Kispest & a quick slurp of more homebrew palinká before they continued back into the heart of the fanzone! Exhaustion and pain were hitting home for me, I sent my teen back to tell Kevin we were going, hugs all round with Gaby, Tom, Peter Murphy & other media types and off I shuffled in the direction Gaby had pointed me in for the journey back to the hotel! Cheekily I said good night to each rendörség I passed, it seemed to confuse them, being on the end of a big smile and a good night! Approaching the bus I tried to speed up, we’d already missed one bus, I didn’t want to miss the next one! A big scary looking guy spoke to me in rapid Hungarian, tired and weary by now I sighed and muttered nem ertem/I don’t understand. He wasn’t so scary when he then smiled and said don’t worry we will wait for you. He was one of the security staff from Kispest & having held the bus up until I got there, stood over me “protecting” me for that leg of the journey! I was absolutely exhausted when I finally arrived back at the hotel and have yet to work out how Tom left the fanzone long after I did but reached the hotel well before me!

As I sat reflecting on what a fantastic day it had been my phone beeped – a message from George Hemingway to say he hoped I had enjoyed it! Wow! The man should have been out partying, enjoying his moment as the owner of the Championship winning team, yet he took the time out to contact a fan who he knew had travelled from abroad for the game – what a wonderful man! Thank you Mr Hemingway. I enjoyed every second of it. With one exception, the staff were an absolute credit to him, very warm, welcoming and helpful. Championship aside I felt a pride in my club. Back now to my dream of one day living in Hungary and having a season ticket to Honvéd! Csak a Kispest. Hajrá Honvéd.

One final mention for the boys – thank you for looking after me so well, being there with you guys made it just that extra bit special.

You can read Kevin’s blog here: https://kevinmccluskie.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/honved-vs-videoton-busting-my-magyar-foci-cherry/