Pécs is the fifth largest city in Hungary and the town was first mentioned in 871 under the name Quinque Basilicae (“five cathedrals”.) The name refers to the fact that when constructing the churches of the city, the builders used material from five old Christian chapels. The modern day name is said to derive from the Turkish “beş” meaning 5 and is also not a million miles from the Slavic root for the word five either. Fascinating.
The trip also represented my fifth game as an away fan with the previous being in Moscow, Budapest and, most illustriously, Barnet. More importantly it was the first game of the new season and the real start of my new blog.
I do not plan on this blog being a travelogue, or a series of match reports, or a commentary on the state of contemporary Hungary. It will instead be a vomit of my thoughts on any given day with a single theme being my attempts to follow MTK in their pursuit of glory/avoiding relegation throughout the 2014/15 season. I will be bravely accompanied most of the way by faithful companion (makes her sound like a dog or a character from Tintin), soon to be wife, translator and reincarnation of that woman at Highbury with the very high squeal, Győngyi Tóth.
Pécs is beautiful. If you come to Hungary and venture outside Budapest, I strongly recommend Pécs including the delightful Palatinus Hotel in the centre of town. Having just seen The Grand Hotel Budapest, I will fall for the easy comparison of saying it was just like the hotel in the Grand Hotel Budapest. It was Art Deco and had had better times. It also had a selection of five honeys at its honey breakfast bar. That alone gets my vote.
Like most Hungarian provincial cities, Pécs is quite small so by about 14.00 on game day, we had done the sights and our thoughts turned to drinking (especially given the 35C heat) and we stumbled across a Balkan themed craft beer bar. I love craft beer.
Strongly recommend and a good way to kill a few hours before an early evening kick-off. (People have often tried to define a hipster to me as I seem to have missed the rise of the hipster since I left the UK some five years ago, would this fall within that description?) Drinking done, we stumbled out of town towards the stadium in the delightfully named suburb of Uranvaros, a dormitory suburb built for workers at the local Uranium mine. Fortunately, the beer had wiped away any sense of impending doom that otherwise may have haunted me.
Inpronounceable. Újmecsekaljai stadion. Steep conrecte steps and an away section crammed in the corner behind a heavy metal fence. It was hot. Small buffet serving locally brewed Pécsi Szalon (nice touch of localisation). MTK fans numbered about 30 at a push. Still I was ready…Grrr!!
Pécs finshed a respectable 7th (a place and five points clear of MTK) and were unbeaten in their last ten home league games so getting anything from the game would have been an achievement.
The highlight of the first half was seeing MTK’s 74 year old manager walk past the away fans towards the far side of the pitch. He has come to say hello, we think. But alas no, he seems to have forgotten where the dugouts are located. (Having written and rereard this, maybe it was a ’you had to be there’ moment). The players seemed to stuggle with the heat and a seemingly bone hard pitch. Apart from a couple of Pécs half chances the first 45 passed without incident.
The lowlight was the anti-Semitic chanting from the home fans (I will come back to this topic in a subsequent post in much more detail.)
The second half started with a bang (at least as far as we could see from our terrible vantage point at the other end of the pitch) as the ball for no discernible reason trickled past the Pécs keeper and into the net. Hurrah! One-nil and only later would we understand that it was a terrible deflected own goal that gave MTK the lead and first goal of the season. Two-nil followed in equally bizarre circumstances as the Pécs goalkeeper clawed out a Kanta freekick only for the referee to give a goal about five seconds later. Hungary still uses the goalline assistants so he must have given the goal, but the Újmecsekaljai stadion is a few years awy from goal line technology so we will never know.
Goals number three and four came in the last minutes of the game. Frank Richard*, MTK’s seventh choice striker, calmy finished on the counter while a Kanta freekick (recurring theme) rounded off the victory with the last kick of the game.
The scoreline was hugely flattering, but who cares. MTK top of the league – highlights below. I am just about visible giving it the big hands in the air as Pecs put one over the top.
As a final goodbye to Pécs, let me present the Magashaz (aka the originally named tall house), the fifth tallest building in Hungary constructed in the 21st century (really stretching the statistics here). Constructed in 1976 before being permanently evacuated in 1989 due to serious structural flaws identified in the mid-80s (Communist health and safety in action). Possible a word of warning to the current administration against throwing up football stadiums without due thought and consideration. Pff, sod that politicians don’t deal in thought and consideration.
Pécs – a city of fives…except for the result (which I cannot really change to fit the narrative so the narrative is actually pretty terrible).
* This was Richard Frank’s last goal for MTK. He would seen be released to be signed by none other than Pecs. Bet he scores in the return game.