So MLSZ in its infinite wisdom put the game on a Friday night in a small provincial town making it nigh on impossible to get there and back without a car and without taking a few hours off work. I don’t have a car and I don’t have much free holiday so television it was.
As it turned out less than twenty MTK fans made the trip so clearly MLSZ unwritten policy of reducing crowd numbers is working. A true shame in a week where Sandor Karoly, MTK (379 games and 182 goal) and Hungary legend (75 games and 27 goals) passed away at the age of 85. I will write more about this man who had been an integral part of the club for over 60 years in a separate post (I think he deserves more than being filed away by an ignorant Englishman together with a match report.)
Fortunately, we had a very good second best alternative to going to Papa (happens to be a near neighbour of Tata in a part of the country that was primarily inhabited by pre-toddlers at the time town names were dished out): our local pub or the new very unofficial 6th District MTK Supporters Bar.
Felni is very much our local pub (https://www.facebook.com/FelniSorbistro?fref=ts). Some 100 yards from our front door, with friendly bar staff and owners (MTK fan) and a dog that even like. It was recently voted one of the best pubs in Budapest. Furthermore, they have a rotating selection of five draft beers and incredible baked cheese snack products that are possibly the best thing ever derived from cheese. Also they showed the football (although we were the only two people watching).
Papa (or Lombard Pápa Termál Futball Club to give them their full name) have been bumbling along in the top tier since 2009. When I had seen them play at the Hidegkuti Nandor Stadion earlier in the year, I thought that they may have been the worse football team I have ever seen (although they had already avoided relegation so may have been on the wind down). I was particularly intrigued by their portly goalkeeper Szucs Lajos (41). This was intrigue was piqued yet further by the rousing reception he received from Fradi fans when they visited Papa a couple of rounds previously. (Incidentally, they lost to a well drilled Papa team, which reduced by confidence in MTK getting anything from this game).
It turns out that old Lajos had moved from Ujpest to Ferencvaros (where he played over 200 games) via a brief sojourn as reserve goalkeeper in the 1997/98 Kaiserslauten Bundesliga winning side. He also won three caps for Hungary, which given Kiraly Gabor’s 80 odd caps is not a hugely difficult feat. It seems like he did not like his original club either based on the picture below (Ujpest wear purple for those of your not in the know).
I cannot remember a huge amount about the game (possibly because I was sitting in a pub drinking fairly strong beer) other than that MTK won by the old goal in one. A ‘soaring’ header from the big man, Vass Patrik with Lajos showing his age, weight and lack of mobility in trying to save.
MTK grinding out the results. They were not impressive, but again controlled the ball, choked the opposition of chances and took home the three points. Back in the Top 3.
A win was the least that Sándor Károly’s memory deserved…