Home is where…

 

It is exactly 866 days since MTK left home and now they are back. In the meantime, they have played home games at six different locations (Angyalfold, Dunaujvaros, Felcsut/Orbanabad, Gyor, Kispest and Ujpest) with a moderately decent amount of success with a third and fourth placed finish in the last two seasons.

All vowels need hats.  Give them hats.  Ideally slanty ones.

Today marks the opening of the New Hidegkuti Nandor Stadium located effectively on exactly the same site as the old stadium (although rotated through 90 degrees). As is well publicized the old version of the stadium was more famous for its starring role in football/war film ‘Escape to Victory’ than for being the home of MTK. Which is a shame. Although MTK are by no means the best supported team in the world, they do have an impressive history and the earlier part of the last century saw them play a fairly central role in the development of football in general. Those days are over. Tonight, MTK open the new stadium (and a new volume of the club’s history) with a friendly against Sporting CP of Lisbon. Why? Sporting were MTK’s opponents in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 196x. MTK lost 1-0, but something of a friendship has arisen ever since. Apparently. Tonight, MTK will face Sporting’s second string as the game clashes with a Portuguese Cup match. But to be honest, me and everyone else going are not going because of Sporting.

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The stadium has been built not without controversy. Firstly, MTK are probably not the most needing of a new stadium with their consistent low turn out (although this has been profoundly impacted by dragging the fans all over the shop in the last two years). This probably partially explains why the capacity of the new stadium is only x,xxx. This is small. And possibly unreasonably so. MTK would often get 5k+ three or four years ago especially when those rascals from the IX District showed their faces. I guess we will not be seeing those numbers for a while/ever again. Secondly, this stadium is part of the current government’s great stadium rebuild policy. At best, confusion reigns over why Hungary needs some 30+new football stadiums as attendance figures have continued to fall and ill-fated fan card system doing little to raise (and much to lower) spectator numbers. This stadium reportedly cost HUF 6.5bn (c. USD 25mn), which assuming a capacity of 4,000 and a ticket price of HUF 3,000 (a 100% increase) would require sell outs for the next 550 games before the place turns a profit (ignoring operating expenses). Ouch! Thirdly, the walls. When the stadium was introduced to the press last week, much was made by the fact that behind both goals are rather brutalist grey walls. The architect quite rightly pointed out that the realization of his plans should hardly have been a surprise to anyone although Nemzeti Sport took reporters down to find out the goalline was exactly 7.49m from the wall. It does seem strange although the decision to rotate the pitch through 90 degrees did limit space. Is it a good look? We’ll find out later. Fourthly, the porn. Above the wall is a big screen (or Jumbotron as Sony would have us call it). Initial tests of the screen were done using some video clips even the Germans would be reluctant to show on TV. Strangely, this gathered more attention than any other marketing tool.

Dramatic.  Where is Torghelle?

So to summarise, it was expensive, unnecessary and ridiculed. Sounds much like many Spurs teams down the line and I still loved them.

Tonight’s game is a sell out (anything other would have been pretty embarrassing), but I am not exactly excited by the game but more to have a nosey around. I have never really got on with friendlies. Perhaps because ultimately they are pointless. Sounds much like many Spurs teams…rehashing my own lines. Sue me. The gates open at 16.30, which seems excessively early for a 20.00 kick-off. I will head off for 19.00.

Actually, I popped for a beer on the way and then the police kindly blocked the road to the stadium for ‘DANGER’. Not entirely sure what that ‘DANGER’ was but it strangely coincided with Orban’s opening speech, which I fortunately missed, but was marked with some boos. I suspect the ‘DANGER’ was that there was lots of verbal sh’t flying around.

First impressions. Meh. It is grey. The beer is a reasonably priced HUF 500 (I can live with that). The toilets were partially broken and there were lots of security goons. The pitch looked pretty good, the walls looked pretty wall like and there was some weird as fuck light sphere drone floating around as MTK went all out to show that they had LED lights which could be turned on and off, by repeatedly turning them on and off causing a reported six epilectic fits (probably a lie).

The MTK fans I was with had made some tifo for the occasion, but the problem with tifo when you are underneath them is that you have no idea what is on them. Useful, TimmyB, useful information.

The game was non-descript as you expect a friendly. Sporting scored the first goal. We will ignore that and pretend that loval MTKist Jozsi Kanta scored the first goal at the new stadium from an extremely soft penalty. The last goal at the old stadium should have been a penalty but Bese Barnabas blazed over when he was on a hat trick. He was the future and has moved onto pastures new. (Although if you have been to Le Havre…). The first goal at the new stadium was scored by a player who is closer to the twilight than the dawn. I am trying to pull out some analogy, but no idea what it is.

First ever goal.  Kind of.

Half-time. It all kicked off. Some flares went off. Hungarian security guards are drawn to flares like cockroaches to the darkness. An opportunity to show some control drives them wild. There was some pushing and shoving and some barging. Eventually four(ish) MTK fans were ejected/arrested by the police who were called in by the security. The whole episode had undertones of the miserable politics and schism in this county, but I have promised (to myself) to try and stay quiet about politics.

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‘Mine, mine, mine’  Like moths to a flame.

It finished 2-2 – my favourite Poor P getting the second. Most importantly, almost two years after my last ‘TV’ appearance I was back. This time going bilingual and throwing around soundbites like Tony Blair after three bottles of Thai Red Bull. Bedaubing (no idea why I wrote that). Note the coat. I am trying to bring fisherman chic to the terraces. Sub-culture.

1.11 if you cannot wait 71 seconds.

So…I miss the old stadium. Always will. The new one is what it is. Like any new stadium, it will need some time to bed in, but ‘we will make it our home’.

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