The Egri Erbstein Tournament 2022

By Dominic Bliss

Budapesti Atlétikai Klub are among four clubs that will be compete in a world football competition in London this summer, in memory of the great Hungarian coaching pioneer Ernő Egri Erbstein.

The Egri Erbstein Tournament will bring together amateur and semi-professional teams from Hungary, England and the USA, at the home of historic London amateurs Corinthian-Casuals in Tolworth on the weekend of July 23-24.

Budapesti AK – better known as BAK – will join Sheffield FC and Fall River Marksmen at the two-day event, which consist of four games: two semi-finals on Saturday 23 July, followed by a third-place play-off and the final on Sunday 24 July.

BAK vs Corinthian-Casuals

Tickets are available now and you can buy a pass for the whole weekend, or for individual days, allowing you to come and go as you please and enjoy as much or as little football as you desire. Matches will kick-off at 12pm and 4pm on both days, while the clubhouse bar will be open all weekend and there will be a range of local street food available from Rockey Street, Happy Hill Kitchen, and Moooh Ice Cream!

The tournament was born out of the desire to celebrate and memorialise the achievements of Egri Erbstein, who began his remarkable career as a tough-tackling young midfielder at BAK in 1916. He went on to make history as manager of the great Torino team that won five Italian league titles in a row before perishing in the Superga air disaster of 1949, but not before he had escaped a Nazi labour camp to survive the Holocaust during the Second World War.

His legacy was overlooked for many years, but was recently uncovered by English sportswriter Dominic Bliss, whose biography of Egri Erbstein has now been translated into Hungarian and Italian.

Erbstein sat outside the plane with Rigamonti (left) and Bacigalupo on the way back from a friendly in Barcelona

Bliss is also a committee member at Corinthian-Casuals, who travelled to Budapest for the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2019 and came home with the trophy. Now, the famous London amateurs welcome three other historic clubs who have made a significant impact on the growth of the sport around the world to their home ground in Tolworth.

BAK can chart their history back to 1900 and were founder members of the Hungarian Football League a year later. They once boasted several top internationals among their number and reached the Hungarian Cup Final in 1913. Today they play in the amateur ranks of their nation’s football pyramid and have just achieved promotion to the fifth tier of the Hungarian league system.

Fall River Marksmen made their name in the 1920s, when the American Soccer League was one of the strongest in the world. The Marksmen – named after their original owner Sam Mark – won the league six times and lifted the US Open Cup on four occasions during that period before disappearing during the Great Depression in the early 1930s. This famous old club was re-established in 2019 by soccer enthusiasts with a passion for sporting heritage and they now compete in the Eastern Premier Soccer League.

Egri Erbstein stood astride his Lucchese squad

Sheffield FC can proudly boast that they were the world’s first football club. Founded in 1857, they were instrumental in the development of the game from a leisure pursuit to an organised sport. Nicknamed simply ‘Club’, they have not played Corinthian-Casuals for 128 years, having come up against both Corinthian FC and Casuals FC several times in the late 19th Century, many years before the two teams amalgamated.

“We are so pleased with the line-up for the 2022 tournament,” said co-founder Dominic Bliss. “Egri Erbstein respected tradition but he also held progressive values and I think these clubs reflect that combination perfectly.

“To complete the line-up with the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC, along with a great name from the first golden era of the game in America, in Fall River Marksmen, is fantastic.

Corinthian-Casuals captain Danny Bracken is mobbed by fans after lifting the new Corinthian Cup

“Then it will be really quite special to see Corinthian-Casuals – the current holders, with their great heritage – welcome the original hosts, BAK, to London for the second edition of the tournament. I honestly can’t wait.”

Visit egrierbstein.org for more information on the tournament and how to get your tickets.