It’s not just one of Europe’s greatest and most glamorous cities, the Hungarian capital Budapest is also a great place to catch a game. Here, we take a look at the football clubs of Budapest.
In football, nostalgia is a powerful force. The media in England goes on and on about 1966, some Scots go on about 1967. But in Hungary they seem to delve even further back – to the fifties, in fact – and in particular one night in November 1953, when the “Mighty Magyars” beat England 6-3 at Wembley, the first continental European team to do so.
The great Hungarian team that played in that “Match of the Century” included Ferenc Puskás, Sandor Kocsis, József Bozsik and Nándor Hidegkuti. Take a note of those names, as they’ll pop up again. Puskás is rightly a legend whose name adorns the national stadium, but Hungary had – at one point – an impressive record: twice a losing World Cup finalist (1938 and 1954) and three times Olympic champions. [Continues…]
Hungary’s fortunes have faltered since then. The national team’s appearance at Euro 2016 was its first at a major championship since the Mexico ’86 World Cup.
Domestically, Budapest dominated the Nemzeti Bajnoksag 1 (NB 1) – the Hungarian top flight – until recent years, when regional teams including Debrecen, Videoton and Györ have all taken the title away from the capital.
In alphabetical order, here’s your guide to Budapest’s main football clubs:
Based not far from the national stadium, BKV Elöre SC plays at the 2,500-capacity Sport utcai Stadion in the Hungarian third division. The club, which plays in yellow and blue, has never seriously challenged for honours.
The Ferencvárosi Torna Club has won the Hungarian championship 29 times, and is the current champion (2015-16). The club also won the UEFA Fairs Cup (now Europa League) in 1965, the only Hungarian team to have won a European trophy.
Ferencváros plays at the 23,700-capacity Groupama Arena, which opened in 2014. [Continues…]
Budapest Honvéd FC, based in the Kispest suburb of Budapest, became the Hungarian army team in 1949. Hence soldier Ferenc Puskás – who won five titles with Honvéd – gained the nickname “The Galloping Major” after his rank.
The club plays at the 10,000-capacity Bozsik Stadion. The club won the championship in 2017 after waiting since the 1992-93 season for a title.
MTK Budapest FC
Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre Budapest Futball Club translates as “Circle of Hungarian Fitness Activities Football Club of Budapest”. So just as well we can call it MTK Budapest FC!
The club has been national champions 23 times, most recently in 2007-8, and plays at the 5,500-capacity Stadion Hidegkuti Nándor. The stadium is currently being rebuilt, but it was used as for the stadium scenes in Escape to Victory.
Formed in 1885, Újpest FC has spent 102 consecutive seasons in Hungary’s top flight, winning the championship 20 times. Older readers may remember the club being named Újpesti Dózsa, the police club.
The club plays at the 13,500-capacity Ferenc Szusza Stadium in the north of the city, and enjoy a fierce rivalry with Ferencváros.
The metal workers’ club, Vasas SC, plays at the Stadion Rudolf Illovszky, which holds 18,000.
The club has won six national championships, the last of which was in 1976-77. [Continues…]
What else to see in Budapest
Budapest has to be one of my favourite cities. The views from the hillsides of Buda across the rooftops, spires and domes of Pest are quite something. Chill in the parks around Heroes Square, cycle around Margaret Island, there’s something for everyone.
Plus it’s a fascinating city very much defined by its recent history. If 20th century history interests you, check out the Terror Museum or get a cab/bus out to Memento Park, where the Hungarians placed their unloved Soviet era statues after the fall of Communism.