Vasas were playing away in the cup this weekend, so Kevin McCluskie (Fitba & Foci) and I decided to visit somewhere we’d been putting off for all too long – Csepel FC. And so (via Kispest after we got on the wrong bus) we ended up in District XXI at the Béke téri Stadium.
If Vasas were Hungary’s team of the ’60s, then Csepel were probably its team of the ’40s, winning three of their four league titles in that war-torn decade, as well as later providing the “Golden Team” with two of its players: József Tóth and Zoltán Czibor, who are immortalised in a statue outside the ground.
Originally formed as an athletics club in 1912, the team have sunk into obscurity over the last few decades, bottoming out a few years back in the regional Budapest league (tier 4), where they now ply their trade. Csepel itself is actually a large island in the middle of the Danube, giving the team its nickname – The Islanders.
The ground itself is indicative of what’s happened to the club. Most of the stands are overgrown with weeds, and the main terrace has seen better days. The ever-faithful ultras seem to have snuck in through a hole in the fence opposite us, and – given the running track around the ground – appear to be miles away.
There’s a good turn out for this cup game against local rivals Soroksár, who play one tier above Csepel in NBii. I never thought I’d describe Soroksár as a safe bet, but for the first time I’ve seen them they’re not the underdogs. There’s no massive gulf in class overall, but the visitors are more confident and clinical. Whilst Csepel’s forwards snatch at their few chances, Soroksár put theirs away. The first goal sees a nice reverse pass take out the home side’s defence, leaving the striker to slot home a nice one-on-one finish. Soon after a speculative long shot slips past the baggy-shirted keeper for 2-0. A simple header made it 3-0 and over before half time.
There’s a small victory for Csepel when a scalliwag of a ballboy holds the ball until the very moment a Soroksár player makes it over to him, before petulantly throwing the ball back towards the stands and walking away shaking his head. The kids clearly take defeat hard on the island.
Csepel 0 – 3 Soroksár