Budafok are you?

Budafoki Labdarúgó Club’s history dates back to 1912 when they were formed as Világosság Football Csapat, the first of twelve different identities. The latest moniker has stuck since 2007. Prior to World War II this modest village in the 22nd District of Budapest was represented by two clubs, the other being Gamma FC who would eventually be consumed into the BKV Előre club in 1950.

Budafok play in the Nemzeti Bajnokság III, a division they have won on three occasions in 1972-73, 1985-86, 1988-89. The club has also enjoyed some success at the second tier, winning the title in 1944-45 and 1950-51. The club’s sole season in the top flight came in 1945-46 when they finished next to bottom winning only five of their 26 matches. Arguably the clubs’ best known players over the years have been József Zakariás, who was part of the squad for the legendary Hungarian national team fondly remembered as the “Golden Team”. More recently Márton Esterházy started his career with Budafok before winning 29 caps for the national team. He scored for Hungary against Canada in the 1986 World Cup tournament.

Confusingly Budafok’s modest stadium actually has several names BMTE Sporttelep, Budafok Stadion and Promontor utcai Stadion, and it forms part of a bigger sports venue which also accommodates athletics and tennis. The stadium has clearly undergone recent renovation with new plastic seats, electronic scoreboard and an elevated dignitary’s stand opposite the open seating. It’s a modest but tidy venue and it seems scarcely believable that 7,000 people crammed into it for a Magyar Kupa match against Ferencváros in February 1984. The venue now has 1,200 seats with standing available around the athletics track which would mean looking through a fence for the duration of the match.

A lack of floodlights means a 12pm kick off for this Magyar Kupa tie against mighty FC Videoton who sit in second place in NB I just a point behind leaders Vasas FC. On a cold day, the hilltop location of the stadium clearly unsettles the illustrious visitors and they are very slow out of the blocks. The hosts play well and skipper Tamás Grúz gives them the lead at half time. Thoughts of a cup upset dwindle as Videoton exert huge pressure on the home goal in the second half. Clearly the half time team talk and a triple substitution have galvanised the visitors. Therefore it is no surprise when Videoton draw level when Ádám Bódi cleverly disguises his shot enough to beat the home goalkeeper with ease. It was evident that Videoton did not fancy extra time as the temperature dropped and they upped the pressure further really throwing players forward. As the game drew to a close Videoton cracked a shot against the post before the unthinkable happened and a quick break saw Sándor Kovács lash home an unlikely and wildly celebrated winner. Who doesn’t love a cup upset?

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Wednesday November 30th 2016 – Magyar Kupa 8th Rd

Budafok LC 2 (Grúz 29, Kovács 84)
FC Videoton Fehérvár 1 (Bódi 66)

Att: 336 (at BMTE Sporttelep)

Admission free, teamsheet free

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Glorious Előre

For the last few years, while the redevelopment of old Hungarian football stadiums has marched on apace,  I have felt somewhat left out as the likes of the Ferenc Puskás Stadion (the old Népstadion), the Albert Flórián Stadion (former Ferencváros home stadium) and more recently  Vasas’ Illovzsky Rudolf Stadion and MTK’s iconic Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion (we all surely remember its’ starring role in “Escape to Victory”?) have been erased from the footballing map if not its consciousness.

They have been replaced by undoubtedly better facilities but as always the shiny new arenas lack the grace and elegance that can only be achieved with the reverence and patina that only old age affords. I hasten to add that one new Hungarian stadium that is the exception to the sterility of modernist construction is the Puskás Akadémia stadium in Felcsút, which is audacious in design and alluring in appearance. Felcsút is a small village which has become synonymous with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a huge football fan, and one of the driving forces behind the provision of better football facilities. The collective hope is that better stadiums will lead to the country challenging on the world stage once again.

With the wind of change sweeping across the football landscape of Hungary I was determined to get to a few grounds this season and probably top of the list was BKV Előre’s quite magnificent Sport utca Stadion. Erstwhile neighbour to MTK’s old, and now new, Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Előre’s huge grandstand rightfully holds a lofty status among football stadia aficionados.

Előre currently ply their trade in Hungary’s third tier and since formation in 1912 have never really hit the heights of success, a sole appearance in the final of the Magyar Kupa came in 1934, but ended in defeat to Soroksár. The club has spent a total of four seasons in the top flight of Hungarian football during their 1940’s and 1950’s heyday. Előre’s wider sports associations have produced several Olympic Games medallists. The club has its roots in the cities’ iron workers and in 1923 a merger occurred with a team representing transport workers. The grandstand at the Sport utca Stadion dates from this merger era, the original pre-merger club played at a field simply known as Nova Pálya (New Field). The rest of ground is, by comparison, somewhat of a disappointment. Opposite the gargantuan grandstand is a small sized all weather training pitch with a token few rows of seating and a couple of dugouts. Previously there was a large covered standing area on this side of the ground. One end of the ground houses MTK’s old offices and the other end is BKV’s indoor bowls club.

This afternoon’s match sees Előre gaining some much needed additional income as MTK’s second string use the main pitch for their Nemzeti Bajnokság III Keleti fixtures and today sees Debrecen’s second XI role into the capital.

A muddy pitch sees the hosts ease to comfortable win in a game low on excitement, although strangely all three goals come from substitutes. The real excitement comes from the wonderful grandstand, some might say a draughty almost redundant relic of yesteryear but most will regard it for what it is an iconic and beautiful old stand belligerently still doing sterling service in a throwaway society. And after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

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Sunday November 29th 2016 – Nemzeti Bajnokság III Keleti 

MTK Budapest II 3 (Csicsek 31,71, Lustyik 80)

Debrecen II 0

Att:42 (at BKV Előre)

Admission free, teamsheet free

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