Groundhopping in Bahrain #4 – Muharraq Stadium (Muharraq vs. Al Ahed – AFC Cup)

With my first forays into Bahraini football finding nought but low attendances, single-stand grounds and a distinct lack of visible fan culture, I was looking forward to visiting Muharraq, Bahrain’s footballing powerhouse and by far their most supported club.

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Groundhopping in Bahrain #3 – Riffa Sports Club (Al Khaldiya vs. Isa Town)

Alexander Hleb is not here. The ex-Arsenal Belorussian has apparently signed for the home team but after a social media unveiling of sorts a few months back, it’s been radio silence. I’m getting the impression that he was just “signed” to come over for a meet and greet, but it’s hard to tell from the posts on Al Khaldiya’s Instagram. Either way, I’m getting Asprilla at Darlington vibes from this one.

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Groundhopping in Bahrain #2 – National Stadium (Bahrain vs. Haiti)

Tonight is my first visit to Bahrain’s National Stadium in Riffa, and I’m here to catch the national team against CONCACAF’s Haiti in the first game of a three-way friendly tournament (Jordan make up the ménage, visiting the island next week).

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Groundhopping in Bahrain #1 – Hamad Town Stadium (Al Ittifaq vs. Tadamun Buri)

The first place on my Bahraini groundhopping tour is Hamad Town Stadium, home of – I think – both of today’s teams. It’s often hard to work out who plays where in Bahrain because a lot of the games default to the National Stadium. I’m not sure why, but I’ll no doubt find out. It can’t be for logistical reasons as you can travel between the two furthest grounds in 25 minutes.

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Two Seas, 8 Stadiums: Groundhopping in Bahrain

Welcome to a shift in tone for Sub Story. Budapest’s wonderful old stadiums are no more, my Vasas season card sits idle in my wallet, and I’ve said goodbye to my erstwhile matchday companions Kev and Mike. Instead we (metaphorically) and I (literally) move to Bahrain – a name which means Two Seas. The country is a small island in the Gulf, located between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

I’ve just moved back here, and am primed to do some more groundhopping, but unfortunately information in English on Bahraini club football is thin on the ground – hopefully I’ll be able to learn and share a few things on my travels so that visiting fans can step into the world of Bahraini football more easily. Let’s take a look at what’s in store.

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Last Match in Budapest (Vasas vs. Soroksár)

So it looks like this is my last football match in Budapest. I’m making the move back to my adopted home of Bahrain next month; the second lockdown in Hungary is upon us; and all games are going back behind closed doors. There was an inevitability about this announcement, despite Vasas taking all the precautions they could to stop the spread of Covid at their matches it was never going to be enough with the spike in numbers here.

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Groundhopping: BKV Előre vs. Veszprém

Continuing our adventures around the grounds of Budapest, Kevin (Fitba & Foci), Mike, and I recently took a long overdue trip to the Sport Utcai Stadion, home to NBIII (Keleti) side BKV Előre SC.  After several weeks of writing individual reviews, Kevin and I have decided to co-author on this one.

There’s an absurd truism over here that every Hungarian team gets a brand spanking new stadium paid for by Viktor Orban’s football obsession and its resultant funnelling of Hungarian funds. The fact that Orban’s hometown of Felcsút (population 1688) has a beautiful, wooden football cathedral with a 3800 capacity tells you everything you need to know about the endemic corruption in the Hungarian football system, but also throws the “have-nots” into sharper relief.

BKV Előre’s Sport Utcai Stadium on the left, in sharp relief with MTK Budapest’s Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium on the right.
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Running in Budapest (Vasas vs. Debreceni EAC)

Vasas’s victory over Szeged before the international break was much-needed, if not convincing. On Sunday they had a chance to consolidate this against basement-dwellers Debrecen (not that Debrecen, the other, less successful one – DEAC).

But before that it was time for a race or two. Since lockdown my mate Dom and I have taken up running. Having never run anything beyond a 5K before (good old Middlesbrough Parkrun), I was keen to see how I’d handle something a bit more onerous. A few weeks back I managed my first 10K race, and on Sunday the NATO Run seemed too good to pass up.

Me (right) with Dom. NATO approved beers in hand.
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A Map of Football Teams in Budapest by District

Original

I’ve been to a fair few grounds in Budapest over the last year or so, so thought I’d put this district map together. Teams in bold are in the upper leagues or have won league titles in the past.

Space-wise, I only had room for the most notable team in each district (sorry BKV Előre, it’s not you, it’s me). I couldn’t find anything of note in the central districts.

I’ve updated it with a few of the notable historical connections and associations, either from when the clubs were founded or during the communist regime, when clubs such as Honvéd and Újpest were co-opted into being army and police teams.

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Groundhopping – BVSC Zugló

Vasas were (losing) away again this Sunday, so once again we used our free day to visit another of Budapest’s storied lower league teams, this time heading north to District XIV to see BVSC Zugló.

Szőnyi úti Stadion: built in its current form in 1952. Home of BVSC Zugló
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