Distant ETO

Győri Egyetértés Torna Osztály Football Club or ETO FC Győr as they are more commonly known were formed in 1904 and have a rich history of European competition participation and the no little matter of 69 seasons in the Hungarian top flight, the Nemzeti Bajnokság I.

The club are four time champions of Hungary, the most recent of which came in 2012/13. So why you might be asking are the club currently languishing in the murky depths of the regionalised third division? Győr’s most recent season in NB I was 2014/15 when despite finishing eighth in the then 16 team league the club were found guilty of breaching licensing and financial regulations and were demoted to the third tier.

The Győr club has undergone many name changes over the years and these Include the name of Rába Vasas ETO Győr for which they are probably best known to English football fans. This was the club’s name in the 1984/85 when they were drawn against Manchester United in the old Cup Winner Cup competition.

Győr’s past European pedigree is truly impressive. They had been crowned Hungarian champions for the first time in 1963/4 and the success meant a tilt at the European Cup the following season. The green and whites defeated Chemie Leipzig, Lokomotiv Sofia and somewhat forgotten Dutch club Door Wilskracht Sterk before drawing the mighty Benfica in the semi final. The home leg was played in front of 62,000 people at the old Népstadion in Budapest and the Portuguese won 1-0. Braces from the legendary Eusebio and José Torres in the second leg ended Hungarian hopes of success.

Continued success in Europe saw the club move into a new stadium in 1967, the ETO Stadion. Initially it had a capacity of 25,000 but in its later existence this had been savagely cut to 14,000. In 2008 Győr moved again to a new stadium, hotel and a total white elephant of a shopping centre complex on the eastern edge of town called ETO Park. It has two huge modern double tiered stands on either side, one end has nothing other than a scoreboard while the hotel end has a blink and you will miss it tiny section of terracing for away fans. After the old Ferenc Puskás Stadion in Budapest was decommissioned and the Groupama Arena was opened the Hungarian national team played several home internationals at ETO Park.

After the success of clinching the NB I championship in 2012/13, the club faced huge problems when in 2015 its owners, Quaestor Financial Hrurira, went bankrupt. Unable to operate ETO Györ declared debts of 200 million florints (over £500,000) to the Hungarian FA. The enforced demotion was inevitable as the club looked to just survive and regroup in the third tier.

This season has been one of hope for Győr as they are challenging for promotion from NB III and also enjoying a run in the Magyar Kupa. Having already eliminated top flight Debrecen (1-0) and Komárom (7-1), the draw was harsh for the green and whites as they were pitted against NB I league leaders Vasas FC.

Tonight Győr played some scintillating attacking football with Lukas Szabó really catching the eye up front. The hosts were never out of this contest until virtually the last kick of the game when Vasas substitute Yevhen Pavlov prodded home an undeserved winner.

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Tuesday November 29th 2016 – Magyar Kupa 8th Round 

ETO FC Győr 2 (Rácz pen 39, Szabó 46)
Vasas FC 3 (Saglik 11, Remili 80, Pavlov 90)

Att: c.2,000

Admission HUF 1,000 (£3) Programme 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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