Paks is home to Hungary’s only nuclear power station, which produces 40% of the country’s electricity. The town has a population of under 20,000. That is pretty much everything of any interest.
Paks does not even have a train station so we had to resort to catching a bus for the Friday evening game. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because as we were waiting for the bus, the MTK official bus slowly crawled pass to be serenaded by a suddenly enliven Gyöngyi. Special credit/thanks to Poor Patrick for responding with an enthusiastic wave (you now have a special place in her heart).
The town itself is small and pleasant enough although a tantalising enjoyable run along a foggy Danube was dashed by a footpath of 400 metres in length. A quick walk around the following morning made it clear that it was difficult to source decent coffee so we were back in Budapest by noon on the Saturday.
A word of warning – do not eat fish soup (halaszlé) in Paks. It is terrible. Whether this is linked to the nuclear power station, I am unsure, but I have never seen such odd looking fish.
Small with highly attentive security. I quite liked it and think the stadium was very much fit for purpose. That said it was probably the equivalent of a seventh or eighth tier English team’s stadium.
Sneaking into home team supporter’s bar before the game to relieve ourselves, Gyöngyi overhears a local saying that he had told his wife that he would drink a beer for every MTK supporter that came. As it turned out, he probably would have been quite drunk as there were a good 40 on the exposed metal terrace behind the far goal and the view-obscuring safety net.
MTK riding high. Paks riding high. Both teams with identical records going into the game, but with MTK having memories of a comfortable 3-1 win here earlier in the year when both teams were in the midst of a relegation scrap. Paks looked done during and after the game, but eventually avoided the drop with some ease.
Two ex-MTK players in the Paks front three. I should have heard the alarm bells.
Two minutes in floated cross to far post in fluffed by Nagy Tibor allowing some Paks player to slam home unopposed. Ah, my previous thoughts of a glorious championship season swiftly switched to a relegation campaign. Terrible defending, Tibor. I think you and your namesake (who had not made the journey) would probably agree. MTK recovered well and slotted into keep ball against dropped deep opponent. Bese Barnabas missed a one-on-one in probably the only clear cut chance MTK created all game.
Gyöngyi found some car keys lying in the away end (sometimes I get the impression that she does not watch the football that intently). She quickly located the owner who refused to let her go until he bought her some drinks. It is that kind of club and those kind of fans (by that I mean nice and not alcoholic, drink drivers).
Second half, MTK continued to press without doing much when after about 60 minutes the ball dropped to Eppel Marton who out of the blue slams one in the top corner from 35 yards. Bloody typical. Not only did he used to play for MTK, but he was absolutely terrible (not for want of trying I add). Added insult to injury by fist pumping the away fans. I will remember you, Marton.
It was at about this time that I came up with my first ever ‘witty’ chant in Hungarian. ‘Russkik hazak!’ A cross-reference to the 1956 protest cries and the recently announced, controversial Russian backed deal to expand the nuclear power station. I raised a few smirks (although they could have been grimaces).
MTK continued to chase without doing anything and another ex-MTKer scored with five minutes left on the counter.
3-0. Result was probably flattering to Paks, but it was always uphill after the early goal. The 100% record was never going to last and at least it went now at a game at which I was present. I could not have forgiven myself if MTK lost at the first away game I missed.
The British Museum contains five Bronze Age pendants found in Paks. Should these be returned? Don’t answer that. I think I need to move on mentally as well as physically from Paks. I hope they get relegated because I am not sure I want to go back (although apparently the nuclear power station has a visitor’s centre and fortunately I speak Russian). They are home to a rare multinational fruit though…