The last three games of the winter season saw two home games in a week (sandwiched either side of the Gyirmot cup match) and also an away trip to Cegled (or at least their temporary home of Albertirsa).
The two home games will retain no memories for me. In fact, as I cast my mind back I can remember absolutely no details of either game. Both games were won 3-1. First up were Siofok to conclude the first half of the league before the return fixture against Csakvar against whom we had started the season way back in a much warmer August. Here are some stock photos (every game at the UHNS looks the same, I know) and the highlights at the bottom if you can be bothered to watch. I am not sure that I can. Still two more wins closer to the holy land of Nemzeti Bajnoksag I when we can look forward to trips to Paks, Felcsut, Szombathely and/or Mezokovesd.
Statue kicking man in head. Festive.
Cegled away was much more fun (fun here meaning I have something to write about). The game kicked off at 13.00, which meant a relatively early meet up. Fortunately, I was meeting up with the very person I had been out with the night before when we had wisely decided to meet at 10.00 to check out the tramp bar at Nyugati Ter. I knew it was a tramp bar so I am not sure what I was expecting. The overwhelming smell of a tramp bar without windows greeted us as we walked into the aforementioned tramp bar. We were possibly the odd ones out being the only non-tramps. But we ordered two very cheap beers and settled into the least noxious part of the tramp bar next to the Top Gun pinball machine. The beer was cheap, but had a reluctance to slip down my gullet without triggering a gag reflex. I blame the tramp bar we were in as opposed to the hangover.
‘Reszeg diszno. Reszeg diszno’ (‘Drunk pig. Drunk pig’) cried that remarkably upbeat barkeep at a remarkably downtrodden small female tramp. With prices this low, service quality is probably not an issue. We plonked our empty tankards on the bar and said our farewells. I inadvertently ignored the barkeeps high five offer. I am not sure I am ever going back. A beer was cheaper than the fee to use the next door toilet though….
We stumbled into Nyugati train station via Spar’s ample beer aisle and found our train awaiting for us with a few other MTKers. Beers were drunk as we pulled South towards the vast expanse of the Great Plain. It was a new train. A red one. I prefer the older trains that look like buses. They are orange. But I think that once they were red. Sunbleached.
It was sunny and cold as we arrived in Albertirsa. Little did I know (not that it mattered) that the stadium complex was a good 30 minutes’ walk from the station. I had a hat though so I was not going to get a cold head. The only 750kv substation in Hungary is located in Albertirsa. That is pretty much all I have got.
Until 2003, it was a village before being upgraded to a town in that year. Sure the residents felt much better after that. I remember the perennial discussion over whether Milton Keynes would get upgraded to a city. So determined they even built a cathedral to ward off the competition of Croydon. It transpired that the requirement for a city to have a cathedral had been previously dropped, which must have been a bitter blow as the town lost each of its bids in 2000, 2002 and 2012 (when it lost out to Brighton, Wolverhampton, Preston, Newport, Chelmsford and St Asaph (which has a population of 3,355 making it the second smallest city in the UK (excluding British Overseas Territories) after St David))).
Who is Ecsedi Laci?
The Ecsedi Laszlo Sportcentrum soon came into view. Across a couple of fields. It was not hugely impressive although it does somehow combine football pitch with a small main stand that would not look out of place as a Soviet bus stop in rural Tajikistan. Officially, the stadium can hold 509 (specific), but with plenty of room for standing, you could squeeze in a few more. The away section was pretty pathetic. A small bank of brown seats borrowed from a local theatre (I guess). The seats were way away behind a corner flag and a running track. Depth perception was difficult. Fortunately, it was so cold that the game was very much an afterthought to survival. A nippy wind blowing across the puszta and into my face. Beer was dispensed from a shed, but the cold was biting so hard this was one of those rare occasions were beer was a bad idea.
The game was not great. Cegled were comfortably beaten way back in August in Pest, but seemed far more organized this time out. The team are sitting in the middle of midtable where they have been for most of the season. The pitch was hard, bumpy and exposed. MTK missed a couple of half chances, but there was not much coming the other way. I think most of the players were casting their eyes towards flights to the Canary Islands or Turkey or wherever lower league Hungarian players travel to to catch some midwinter sun.
Towering stands intimidate the players
The breakthrough came on 86 minutes as Lencse pounced on a loose ball and slammed into the roof of the net. Muted pandemonium. It was really cold.
Championship rivals Kisvarda had lost 3-1 at home to Gyor meaning MTK would go into the Christmas break 5 points clear of second and a whopping 15 points clear of third placed Bekescsaba. Bekescsaba shall be the next opponents of MTK as they come to Budapest at the end of February. A win would open the gap to 18 points with 16 games to play. Promotion would be almost guaranteed (if it is not already).
Still now we go into hibernation for the Hungarian winter to emerge more pallid and lifeless some time next year. Hopefully, I can pick up a couple more games to bridge the gap.