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Saturday 9th November 2013 ko 20.00

NB-I

MTK BUDAPEST 1 (Kanta 82)

BUDAPEST HONVÉD 1 (Hidi 85)

Att 2,000

Entry 2000 HUF (approximately £5.60)

No Programme

Team Sheet FREE

Scarf 1500 HUF  (approximately £4.20)

From Vasas it didn’t take long for Andy and I to retrace our steps back to
Stadion Hidegkuti Nándor, home of Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre, or MTK Budapest.

We’d called in earlier, before the Elóre game and called in at the main office to try and buy tickets. We were met by a man who spoke absolutely no English but more than made up for it with a magnificent Magyar moustache! He gave us a magical guided tour of the ground, including a sight of the new statue of Nándor Hidegkuti to be unveiled before the evening’s game.

MTK was formed in 1888 as the Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre (Circle of Hungarian Fitness Activists). A number of its founding members were aristocrats and members of the capital’s Jewish community and as a result the colours of the club became blue and white. In 1949 when Hungary became a communist state, MTK were taken over by the secret police, the ÁVH and eventually their name was changed to Vörös Lobogó SE, or Red Flag, reverting back to MTK in 1956. The club has won the Hungarian championship 23 times and was the first to represent Hungary in European competition, in the 1955 European Cup.

Nándor Hidegkuti played and managed MTK with distinction. As a member of the “Mighty Magyars” of the 1950’s he played as a deep-lying centre-forward, a revolutionary tactic at the time, and the type of position commonly seen today with the likes of Wayne Rooney playing in a manner Hidegkuti would no doubt recognise.

But for all of MTK’s wonderful history, the stadium has one massive footnote, but its in movie history, the stadium was used for the football match in the 1981  film “Escape to Victory,”  The film’s climax involves a German Wehrmacht team taking on an Allied POW team, which featured the likes of Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Paul Van Himst, Mike Summerbee, Hallvar Thoresen, Werner Roth, Pelé, with Michael Caine, and goalkeeper Sylvester Stallone (!). To refresh your memory here’s 10 minutes from the film. 

The script called for a 1940’s-style stadium in Paris, and the old-fashioned, and dare-I-say crumbling MTK stadium proved to be perfect stand-in, even if the main stand at Elóre is clearly visible! The pale blue seats in the film are a giveaway to the true identity of the stadium.

We arrived back at MTK around 90 minutes before kick-off, and discovered that to buy a ticket you either needed a fan card or your passport. Since our passports were safely back at the hotel, I found our friendly Magyar, and he quickly found someone who spoke English, the club secretary! He walked round to the ticket booth and instructed the attendant to take our names, dates-of-birth, and home towns.

The tickets were then bought, and thanks given! I’ve little doubt we had enough time to get to Deák Ferenc tér and back with the passports but his kindness took the pressure off so Andy and I had time to soak up the atmosphere. With the benefit of hindsight, it is good practice to have your passport handy when buying tickets for games, especially high-profile ones like this, a capital city derby.

We were surprised at the fact that the club had no merchandise for sale. With the inevitably large numbers of foreign visitors, particularly with the film connection to have nothing on sale at all struck me as a massive lost opportunity. We were fortunate that the MTK Ultras had produced a scarf for the evening, a celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary, and those were all snapped up quickly.

As beautiful as the ground is, the stand does sport very little leg room so after obtaining a team sheet I discovered that the press box was less than half-full so Andy and I commandeered two seats for a wonderful view. It took us but a few minutes to realise where we were. An MTK shot whistled wide, so I turned to Andy and in my best cartoon German accent went “And ze crowd goes….Vild…!” whilst motioning to turn up the piped crowd noise!

We’d been treated well by both clubs so perhaps the draw was best for us. It was another hard-fought midfield battle with shots few and far between. We looked on for another nil-nil draw but typically as soon as József Kanta scored for MTV, Honvéd immediately equalized though Patrik Hidi.

The home fans were held for a few minutes while the Honvéd fans were shepherded on to the tram back to Népliget station. As we left I did allow myself a quick “Victoire,” as we left, even if we didn’t leave by the gate behind the goal!