Tag: Hungary

Sixty Years Ago Today: England Brought Down To Earth By Magnificent Magyars

Seldom has there been one match that has come to define the fortunes of two football nations as appropiately as the afternoon in November 1953 when the Hungarians landed in London. The shock and horror with which the result that afternoon was greeted, however, also indicated the begnning of another trait in the history of the English national team, a brief period of turbulence followed by relative inactivity and plenty more of the same, underwhelming football and – with one, brief, glittering exception – a familiar feeling of relative under-achievement. In short, the twenty-fifth of November 1953 was the English national football team was found out, by a mass audience, for the first time. For those who paid close enough attention, the signs of decline had been clear for several years. In 1949, the Republic of Ireland became the first non-Home Nation to beat England away from home, when they won by two goals to nil at Goodison Park. A year later, a considerably more seismic shock should have hit the Football Association when the United States of America beat England by a single goal during the World Cup finals in Belo Horizonte. A complete lack of television coverage and minimal newpaper coverage, however, meant that the myth of innate English superiority was allowed to further fester. On the other side of Europe, however, a sporting revolution had begun...

Read More

World Cup Tales – Magyarország! The Greatest Team Never To Win A World Cup? Hungary, 1954

The story of football in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War often seemed to be following a pre-prepared script, but it was a script that, at the World Cup finals at least, the competing nations seemed unwilling to follow. In 1950, the tournament should have been a procession for the host nation, Brazil, but in the final minutes of the final match, Uruguay silenced the Maracana. And four years later, one of the greatest teams in the history of the game would come unstuck in similar circumstances. They were the “Golden Team” – the Hungarian team of Ferenc Puskas, Nándor Hidegkuti and József Bozsik. This Hungarian team was, tactically, one of the most important in the history of the game, and it only lost one match in four years. It just so happened, however, that the match that they did lose was the most important of all. The building blocks of the team were laid by Gusztáv Sebes, a Communist party member that had played for the Hungarian club MTK during the 1920s and 1930s. Sebes, along with fellow party members Béla Mandik and Gábor Kompóti-Kléber, took control of the national team in 1948. They realised immediately that the political capital of a successful national team was potentially massive and, using the Austrian Wunderteam and the Italian team that had seemed likely to dominate...

Read More

Canada & The 1986 World Cup

You wouldn’t know it from the absolute lack of media coverage in the UK, but the CONCACAF Gold Cup – North & Central America’s equivalent of the European Championships – is currently being played out in the USA, and one of the minor surprises of the competition so far has been the progress of the Canadian national team, who have comfortably qualified for the quarter-finals with two wins from their three group matches against Jamaica and El Salvador. In the next round, they take on Honduras next Saturday in Philadelphia. The Canadian men’s national team has, however, a somewhat less than glorious record in the international stage. They have already been eliminated from the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa, picking up just two points from their six matches in a group which also contained Honduras, Mexico and Jamaica. They did qualify for the World Cup Finals once, though, in 1986, and they did so against what should have been insurmountable odds. The story of Canada’s run to the 1986 World Cup Finals begins two years earlier at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. They qualified from their group, beating Cameroon 3-1 on the way, to make the quarter-finals of the competition, where they met Brazil at the Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. What should have been a very one-sided match, however, didn’t go according to plan...

Read More

England 3 Hungary 1

I’m probably in a minority in so far as that I really enjoy these friendly matches. No pressure, no stress, just an exhibition involving some of the best footballers in Europe. If they contrive get their back-sides spanked by, say, Denmark or Australia, we can put it down to a bad day at the office and get on with it. Tonight’s match was an intriguing one. I don’t really know anything about Hungary (as they are now – >everyone knows about the Puskas team of the 1950s that – quite literally – dumped Billy Wright on his arse at Wembley in 1953), and places for the Paraguay match are up for grabs. It all made for an interesting evening. So… as ever, a mixed bag. The first forty minutes was poor. Not for the first time, Ericsson played it too cautious for the first forty minutes. Hungary sat back relatively well, and the “experimental” formation wasn’t equipped to pressurise them into making mistakes. Of course, as soon as they did start pressing, things started to happen. Beckham was magnificent – his best England performance for a long time – and Owen started to get into decent goal-scoring positions. Pity Lampard missed the penalty, but there we go. The second half performance was considerably improved. The midfield got forward to support Owen, and the goals started flowing. I was particularly...

Read More