It was a strange weather day in Sheffield with torrential rain downtown and April showers in July in Dronfield as Sheffield FC, the world's first football club entertained Ferencvaros of the Hungarian National First Division- the Soproni League.
The Bright Finance Stadium, or The Coach & Horses as it is commonly known, after the pub, owned by Sheffield FC attached to the ground, looked in splendid shape due to all the volunteers who helped keep it trim and tidy for the first match of the season, an attractive pre-season contest against The Magyars from Budapest. I really enjoyed chatting before the match with Lajos Mocsai and colleagues from the club www.ftc.hu and with Gabor Csekey and Mate Budai who run the extremely popular independent web site www.ulloi129.wordpress.com which evidently receives a million plus hits annually.
The club's nickname is FRADI, and they are the best supported in Hungary, home of the famous Magic Magyars of the 1950 with Puskas, Hideguti, Grosics and more, beating England 4-2 at Wembley and 7-1 at the Nepstadion in Budapest in 1953. (I am lucky enough to own the programmes from both matches). Sadly they were broken up due to the Soviet invasion in 1956. On my first visit to Budapest a dozen years ago with a couple of Czech soccer friends, we called up Puskas, 'The Galloping Major' and legend, and he got us rooms at the hotel of the Hungarian Army Officers Club, with lots of paintings of old warriors and battles. We also went to the Stadion Florian Albert in the Ninth district where Hungary were playing Ukraine, I think. Fradi are the only Hungarian club to have won a European title, The 1965 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, which turned into the new Europa Cup.
Florian Albert scored 245 goals in 339 matches and was top scorer at the 1962 World Cup in Chile, as did another Fradi, Sandor Kocsis who scored 11 at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. 75 goals in 68 matches for the Magyars and he ended his career with FC Barcelona. I watched Albert play in the Stadio Flaminio in Rome during the 1960 Olympic Games, and also at Old Trafford at the 1966 World Cup where they beat Portugal 3-1. Who can forget Lazlo Kubala who, after leaving Ferencvaros won 4 La Liga titles for Barca? He had for some reason played 6 times for Czechoslovakia while he playing for SK Slovan Bratislava and also later for the Spanish national team.
The club is owned by Kevin McCabe, chairman of Sheffield United and he will oversee the development of a new 25,000 seat stadium. United also own the Changdu Blades of China, Gold Coast United in Australia and White Star Woluwe of Belgian club plus an 'agreement' with FC Sao Paulo of Brasil. You can look them all up at www.footiemap.com
Well, the match kicked off with Sheffield, 'CLUB', dominating the early stages and taking the lead after 15 minutes from Will Senior. In fact they should have been 3 up but for the acrobatics of their goalie. I suggested to the dynamic, enthusiastic and innovative Chairman of CLUB, RICHARD TIMS, that he should be getting ready to pass around bottles of champagne after the match at the Coach and Horses. He said that he agreed, but that I might find it an aquired taste as he would disguise it in Carlsberg cans!!
A beautiful rainbow came out to delight the eye as the rain stopped, but Fradi started to play a bit and took command. Mixed in with the names Megyeri, Zcivoczky, Kulscar, Ference were English names such as Sam Wedgbury from Birmingham and Matt Lowton. Kevin McCabe installed Bobby Davidson, former player with Leeds United, Derby County etc.,as manager. Their shooting was exceptional and they finally wore the locals down coming out 5-1 winners. They will also play Lincoln City and Barnsley before returning home. Sheffield FC next play Sheffield United at home next Tuesday.
Sheffield FC, www.sheffieldfc.com are one of only TWO clubs in the world to have the FIFA ORDER OF MERIT, presented in 2007, their 150th anniversary. The other one is Real Madrid. CLUB were resplendent in their new jerseys with WELCOME TO YORKSHIRE on the front, sponsored by Yorkshire Forward. www.yorkshire.com These are available for sale on line NOW. Also in the club shop at the ground.