It only took me 20 days to cheat on football. Puck it I thought. Let’s go to the (ice) hockey.
I like (ice) hockey because for all effective purposes the rules are the same as those of football. Get the ball/puck in the back of the net and get a point and team with the most points wins. Dig a little deeper and there all sorts of things that make (ice) hockey nothing like football. For one, it is played on ice. This is a fundamental difference (unless you have been watching the Hungarian third tier recently). Other differences include massive pads, no throw-ins and big sticks.
We had received complimentary tickets (thanks employer) to watch one of the four games played as part of the Christmas Hockey Party taking place at an outdoor rink in the city’s central park. This made for a frankly beautiful spectacle with the rink in the shadow (of the moon) of the Vajdahunyad Castle. This castle was built to celebrate Hungary’s 1000th birthday back in 1896 with a design encompassing elements of various notable buildings from around the then-Hungarian Empire and most notably from Transylvania Hunyad Castle. Originally built in cardboard and wood, it was rebuilt in stone in 1904 after it rained for the first time in eight years.
The combination of ice and being outdoors in December meant that it was incredibly cold. Despite the cold, there was a surprising large turnout with the two stands along either edge of the rink full and the other stand at one end being reasonably busy as well. My copy of Nemzeti Sport is telling me 3,050 were present which is more than most football matches I have seen in the last five years in this country.
Who were we watching? Did it matter? Yes. DVTK Jegesmedvek against MAC Budapest. DVTK are (unsurprisingly) part of the DVTK sport club from Miskolc. As far as I know there are no jegesmedve (polar bear) in Miskolc, but I have only been to Miskolc once and was not on the look out. MAC played in shirts that looked like suits. That is probably the only interesting thing I can come up with. My copy of Nemzeti Sport is telling me that this was 1st versus 3rd in the MOL Liga. The MOL Liga is a quasi-regional tournament featuring teams from Hungary (7 teams), Romania (3) and Serbia (1). There used to be a Slovak team, but no one liked them.
Good player is Albert.
My summaries of football matches are bad. This will be worse. MAC went 2-0 up before 3 goals whilst I was in the toilet made it 3-2 at third-time. MAC managed to keep DVTK at arm’s length (scoring another goal while I returned to the toilet) from then on and they never managed to pull themselves on level terms before running out of steam after the two-third time. We did see a hockey player get his arm trapped between the plexiglass and advertising board below, which prompted a brief moment of absolute panic on the ice as concerned players from both teams took turns to shoulder charge the plexiglass to free the victim. He escaped after a while looking shocked more than hurt and after a sit down was able to carry on.
We were DVTK fans for the day. One man took his shirt off. I imagine that he will regret that foolishness. It was a bold decision and he was probably expecting others to follow. They did not and being a man there was no way he was admitting to his mistake so went semi-naked for a good 30 minutes. Despite all this casual tomfoolery, the highlight was definitely the polar bear. It turns out that there is a polar bear in Miskolc and he had been transferred to Budapest for the day. I’ll be honest and say he looked more like a human dressed as a polar bear, but as it is Christmas I will not challenge the fact that there was a dancing, slightly grubby, incredibly friendly, ice-hockey shirt wearing polar beer let loose in the arena. I hugged him. He was warm.
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