Pléhcsárda has been on my bucket list ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain trying manfully to finish one of their hubcap-sized schnitzels on his wonderful Parts Unknown travelogue. The place – which is little more than a shipping container full of meat – has become semi-legendary in Budapest, not just for Bourdain, but also as the “Tin Gundel”.
Let me explain. Gundel is a fancy schmancy restaurant near City Park. As legend has it a group of Hungarian bigwigs went there for a meal, but after the gargantuan feast they were still not sated (if you’ve seen a few Hungarian politicians you’ll understand). One of them was a Pléhcsárda regular and suggested taking a trip out to District XV. Chauffeured cars were duly called and the group of powerful, besuited VIPs headed over to the humble tin shack to further fill their bellies.
The politician’s reasoning was sound – after a meal at Pléhcsárda there is no need to ever eat again.
Why? Because upon asking (in your best faltering Hungarian) for a large schnitzel, the server gives a knowing shake of the head. A half-smile plays momentarily on his lips as he unsheathes something akin to a skateboard covered in batter. Plates? Well the best that can be said is that they’re in there somewhere. This is a meal that mocks every aspect of your being. It’s delicious of course, but despite consuming half your body weight in meat you leave feeling somehow less of a person. The cook’s knowing laughter rings in your ears as you carry your leftovers back onto the bus.
After this mere appetiser came the main course – The return of second division Hungarian league football. And we had company. Not only had I managed to enlist three of our long suffering partners and friends, but also Hungarian sports writer Kevin McCluskie. Kevin’s work can be seen in Fitba and Foci, as well as the Hungarian Football website. Little did they know what they were in for.
It’s all change at Vasas. New manager (the follicularly challenged Ferenc Bene), new owners (I haven’t quite figured out why yet), and – in an unexpected but very Hungarian football twist – a hulking new striker from Újpest, Róbert Feczesin – who is the current top goalscorer of Division 1. Why is the top-flight’s top goalscorer now playing for a second tier team with little chance of promotion? “Because Hungarian football” is the evergreen answer. Also because Újpest are totally in the shit financially.
Either way, with Feczesin upfront, as well as last year’s Second Division golden boot winner Ádám Balajti, plus 2017-18’s top scorer Botond Birtalan, plus the veteran goalscorer Sándor Torghelle on the bench, we should be seeing hatfuls of goals for Vasas in 2020.
But not today unfortunately. While Vasas have most of the ball, genuine chances are few and far between. This is partly due to a linesman who’s merely on nodding terms with the finer details of the offside rule, partly due to a few smart stops from the Békéscsaba keeper (I know I usually do a few paragraphs on the opposition, but honestly it’s not worth it today – they did next to nothing. So unremarkable are they that our Hungarian companion Szilvia thought the city was somewhere near Budapest – it’s actually near the Romanian border), but mainly due to a lack of service to Feczesin. Balajti does his usual intricate work on the edge of the box but couldn’t force a goal, while Birtalan is unlucky not to get a penalty for a blatent shove, but overall it’s hard to escape the fact that the home team just haven’t done enough to win.
They’ll improve no doubt, and with such talent in the squad there’ll be games where it’ll rain goals. But Vasas need to click quickly, before even the slightest hope of promotion is extinguished.
Vasas 0 – 0 Békéscsaba (Attendance 1700)
Selected observations from some first time visitors to the Rudolf Illovszky
“There was a player on the opposing team that kept falling on his face and having a little rest on the floor.”
“There were no goals, Daniel. Not a single one.”
“The highlight was for me when men were cursing at each other in masses yelling words such as ‘bitches’ which are apparently supposed to be for women.”
“Today there was a total of 22 goals scored across 9 NBII games. That’s an average of 2.44 goals per game. Thanks to Daniel inviting me to watch Vasas I got to see none of them.”