The team who beat Manchester United 11-3 were in Budapest – and we loved it!

Edited English translation of an article on Rangadó by Áron Aranyossy about the Egri-Erbstein Tournament. Click the link for the original article in Hungarian. The English version is produced with his permission and all credit goes to him for the article itself.

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A hundred and fifteen years – that’s the amount of time England’s oldest amateur team, Corinthian Casuals took to return to Budapest. In 1939 Corinthian FC and Casuals FC merged to form Corinthian Casuals and by choice, they have remained an amateur club since. They wanted to start football as a movement, spreading a message of fair play and enjoyment, they even had players appearing for the English national team in the early days. It’s a club with a rich history that continues to the present day. Currently they compete in the Bostik League along with semi-professional clubs. Their achievements include:

  • Beating Manchester United 11-3, the biggest margin of the Red Devils’ history,
  • Real Madrid plays in full white in honour of them
  • One of Brazil’s most popular team, SC Corinthians was named after the Englishmen.

During the 1900’s the Corinthian “half” of this club took several trips abroad, making friends through football, this included a trip to Budapest in 1904. Meeting the Hungarians went so well that the English club left a trophy, the Corinthian Cup, in honour of the meeting. After 115 years, Corinthian Casuals have now returned to Zugló, the exact district they attended back then, only this time at BVSC’s stadium.

Credit for this historic moment in amateur football goes to Bertalan Molnár who brought Budapesti Atlétikai Klub back to life after 92 years. However, that itself wouldn’t have happened without a book written about Ernő Egri-Erbstein, BAK’s former player, by Dominic Bliss. Egri-Erbstein embodies everything Molnár and his club wishes to bring back to amateur football, his motto says it all: “Pass the ball around and play fairly with a smile on your face”. Reading the book inspired Molnár to bring BAK back to life.

After Bliss and Molnár found each other they quickly reached out to Corinthian Casuals as well and there was no doubt that sooner or later the team would meet BAK and the idea of the Egri-Erbstein tournament was born. Not many thought that would happen within a year, however that’s exactly what happened.

The Egri-Erbstein Tournament was held between 14th and 16th of July with BAK, BEAC, Testvériség SE and of course Corinthian Casuals taking part. Saturday’s semis quickly became the centre of attention as the organisers were drawn against the English side. This special and historic game was very fittingly the tournament opener. Approximately 60 fans came from England to support their team and they made the opening game’s atmosphere amazing. It was very much needed though as the incredible heat unfortunately took a toll on the football on display. The crowd had fun and one stand was even coloured in the infamous pink and brown of Corinthian Casuals. Some of the supporters put on the Brazilian Corinthian’s jersey. Friendship though football.

I asked Dominic: “Corinthian Casuals should easily win this trophy on paper but I’m wondering if this is your strongest team?”

He replied “That is more or less the strongest line up with a few exceptions. That player there, for example, is Jamie Byatt, he is a club icon” He certainly did not exaggerate his statement!

The 37-year-old forward has the honour of being one of the players who went to Brazil in 2015 to play in a friendly between the two Casuals teams. As a gesture of friendship, the sides swapped two players for the last ten minutes and Byatt was chosen to be the English footballer to change places with Danilo, making him the first Corinthian Casuals player to wear SC Corinthian’s jersey.

BAK fought well in the heat, however the Hungarians quickly conceded in the second half. The foreigners dominated the game even more from that point and the only question was the margin of their victory. After missing a few clear-cut chances, the match ended with a 3-0 victory. The second semi-final was an even more straight forward game as Testvériség banged in eight goals against BEAC leaving no questions as to which team was the better side. Some of the English supporters attended this game as well, rooting for the underdogs to score a consolation goal. Although that didn’t happen there was a great moment when a BEAC player came to the crowd and he received a sip of beer from Casuals fans along with the chant “we love you Soma (the players name) we do!”

The surprises came on Sunday. The first thing a spectator would notice were the trophies next to the stands. Part of the collection was a replica of the original Corinthian Cup from 1904. Then the weather changed drastically, it was raining heavily during the BAK-BEAC match, which was also forced into a delay due to lightning. Interestingly this was handy for the organisers since they were 1-0 down at the time having conceded due to a penalty. BAK hadn’t looked like scoring before the unplanned break however once the game continued, BAK equalised and with the very last kick of the ball Barnabás Kántor scored the winning goal with an astonishing strike.

The rain was still pouring down and I encouraged the English fans by saying this weather fits them better anyway. Finally, Corinthian Casuals walked onto the pitch wearing the names of Grande Torino – the magical team which Egri-Erbstein managed in Italy before his tragic death.

The final had some amazing honorary guests such as Egri-Erbstein’s daughters, Susanna and Marta, and his grandson, Stefano, as well as Iain Lindsay, the British ambassador to Hungary and Torino’s general manager Antonio Comi who gifted BAK a shirt with Erbstein’s name on it.

While all this has happened in the stands, an enjoyable, competitive football match was played on the pitch. Testvériség SE made Corinthian Casuals work hard for the trophy, they even had a few chances to win the final themselves. In the end the English team’s physicality tired the Hungarians out, leading to a late winner scored by Harry Ottaway. Corinthian Casuals won the trophy and can add being the winners of the first ever Egri-Erbstein Tournament to their list of achievements.

It should be mentioned that Hungary’s top referee, Viktor Kassai, who was in charge of the Champions League final in 2011, was the referee for the final. He put in a great performance himself, although he didn’t really have too much to do as the final was played in a very friendly manner, just as the entire tournament had been.

All that was left was the awards ceremony with the crowd cheering for all of the teams. By the looks of it the guests enjoyed their time in Hungary, even though some of them lost their voice after Saturday. You could hear them doing the Icelandic clapping celebration as well as shouting B-A-K for the rest of the evening.

A hundred and fifteen years ago Corinthian Casuals brought a trophy to Hungary and in 2019 they took one home from Hungary. We cannot wait for the second Egri-Erbstein Tournament and we probably don’t need to wait too long either.