Friday, September 01, 2006

FC Fehérvár – Grasshopper-Club Zürich (10-08-2006)

As my friends preferred to go to the Sziget festival on Saturday rather than Thursday, I decided to visit the UEFA Cup game between FC Fehérvár and the Grasshoppers Zürich in the Hungarian town of Székesfehérvár, roughly 70 km southwest of Budapest (which equals one and a quarter hour by Hungarian train). For the older readers, knowledgeable in international football, FC Fehérvár used to be known as Vidéoton.

I arrived well before the beginning of the game (20.45) and decided to head into ‘town’. As there was no map outside of the station, and none speaks English or German in these towns, I just tried to follow the few people with red-blue shawls, but they went all over the place. At a certain point in time I asked a young guy, who indicated that he was going himself and I followed him. Not much was said, as he didn’t speak more than a couple of words in English and my Hungarian is… well, it isn’t. It was good that I had asked him, as I was heading completely in the wrong direction. J At a certain time we walked passed a large housing estate for Roma (‘Gypsies’), which was guarded by a police car (were they guarding the Roma or the football fans?). In the end, the stadium turned out to be at a decent 15 minute walk from the station, if you know the way.

The Stadion Sóstói Út is relatively old-fashioned, but with a big new stand on one side of the pitch (see pic). I bought a ticket for 4.000 Ft (or ca. 15 euro) which gave me a nice spot at the new stand – very close to the pitch. The stadium holds 20.000 and for this game some 7.000 had turned up – only some 30 from GCZ! The atmosphere wasn’t bad, but far from impressive. Still, in most post-communist countries stadiums are dead and empty, particularly when the game is shown live on television, so it wasn’t too bad actually.

The game itself was fairly poor, with FC Fehérvár being the more active, and GCZ the more talented. In the second half the visitors scored the 0-1 lead, not completely deserved, and tried to defend that for the rest of the game. The home team had many chances, but showed very poor finishing. However, in the 93rd minute, the last of the game, a young substitute scored the equalizer and the crowd went wild.

After the game I walked back to the station, where I had to wait for an hour for the train to Budapest. It seemed that the station bar functioned as the local disco, so I could ‘enjoy’ the newest music in Székesfehérvár. Around 0:30 am I arrived back in Budapest, where I found the one honest taxi driver to bring me to my hotel (another 30 minutes!). Still, an entertaining groundhop with a fantastic end of the game.

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