Posted: 11/16/2015


   The date was 25th November 1953 and it was a date that will go down in football history. Hungary, the Olympic champions had come to play at the historic Wembley Stadium against England, unbeaten at home by a foreign team from outside the British Isles in their 90 year history. For the first and last time there were FOUR players from my hometown club, Blackpool,: Defender Harry Johnston and forwards Stanley Matthews, Stanley Mortensen and Ernie Taylor.

    It was 1-0 in the first minute and 4-1 after 27 minutes with the final score 6-3. As the teams lined up in the tunnel Harry told his team mates, "They are not wearing proper kit". In fact, in contrast to the Three Lions heavy boots, woollen stockings, baggy shorts and buttoned long shirts, the Hungarians in their maroon short sleeve tight jerseys, brief shorts and cut away football shoes were in stark contrast. Six months later manager Walter Winterbottom flew out early for the retun match six months later  on 23rd May 1954 and 3 weeks prior to the World Cup in Switzerland. The newly constructed Peoples Stadium - Nepstadion, was full and obviously the visitors had learned nothing. The result was 7-1 and could have been ten according to reports. Their national anthem HIMNUSZ is one of my favourite and quite melencholy.

    Last night in Budapest the newest Hungarian team beat visitors Norway 2-1 in the second of two play-off games for FRANCE 2016, having won 1-0 away in Oslo. Hungary had not qualified for a major tournament since FIFA World Cup Mexico in 1986.. A few years ago I was in the Hungarian F.A, offices overlooking the Nepstadion and had a chat with their press officer. I told him that I had the programmes of both matches as treasured possessions. He remarked that they were all tired of history and wanted modern success. I had called Ferenc Puskas' friend earlier and my 2 Czech colleagues and myself were able to spend the night at the historic Hungarian Officers Club. Puskas had been made a major in the army as a reward.

    From 1950 until 1956 The Golden Team , or the Majic Magyars had won 42, drawn 7 and suffered only one defeat, the 1954 World Cup Final -THE MIRACLE OF BERNE- 3-2 to West Germany at the Wankdorf Stadion.  Hungarians call them ARANYCSAPAT-THE GOLDEN TEAM. Under the manager GUSZTAV SEBES they played TOTAL FOOTBALL and he pioneeered the deep lying centre forward system in contrast to the widely used WM formation. At the 1952 Olympic Games in Finalnd they demolished defending champions from 1948 Sweden 6-0 in the semi final and Yugoslavia 2-0 in the Helsinki's Olympic Stadium. with goals from Puskas and Czibor. 

    Despite communist suppression of individual freedoms many players were put on the Honved club, controlled by the army and played wonderful football. Besides The Galloping Major, Ferenc Puskas the mainstays were Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hideguti, Zoltan Czibor, Josef Bozsik and goalkeeper Gyular Grosics. 

    At the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland the 16 teams were in groups of four but only played two group matches. They beat South Korea 9 -0 and then West Germany 8-3. Unfortunately Puskas suffered a badly injured ankle from Werner Liebrich and missed the quarter final Battle of Berne when Brazil went wild on the pitch in in the tunnel afterwards but prevailed 4-2. English referee Arthur Ellis said if he had sent off all who dereved it the match would have had to be abandoned.

   In the semi-final in Lausaunne Hungary, again without Puskas,  beat defending champions Uruguay 4-2 in a beautiful advertisement for football. So we go to the final in Berne in what was called 'Fritz Walter weather', raining cats and dogs. Sepp Herberger the manager had a secret weapon. His pal Adi Dassler had given his team revolutionary Adidas football boots with screw-in studs which were ideal for the conditions. Despite not being fit Puskas started the match and put his Magyars ahead after only 6 minutes and Czibor doubled the lead two minutes later. Max Morlock scored after ten minutes  and Helmut Rahn equalised at 18 minutes and scored the winner in the 84th minute. Hungary should have equalized in the final minute but Welsh linesman Mervyn Griffiths indicatetf offside to English referee Bill Ling.

    Two years later the Hungarian Revolution caused Soviet tanks to roam the streets of Budapest to supress the uprising. Honved were away in Bilbao in the 1st leg of a European Cup match in 1956 and lost 3-2. Most players stayed away and the second leg was moved to Brussels where they tied 3-3 and lost 6-5 on aggregate. They organized a fund raising tour to Italy, Portugal, Spain and Brazil and many brought their families out of their homeland. Then they parted ways and many signed for Spanish clubs including Puskas for Real Madrid. The Golden Team was no more.