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.

Soroksár means (according to Mike’s Google translation) “Rows of Mud”, which sounds like a metal band but refers to the swampy nature of the land there before it was drained (to general wailing and gnashing of teeth) by one Antal Grassalkovich in the 1730s. Today’s damp and muddy conditions should make them feel right at home.

A Soroksárian in traditional garb.

The newly-implemented seating restrictions mean that I can only hear Mike O’Malley’s neverending supply of footballing cliches from a distance, like the ghost of David Pleat whispering truisms about being patient and keeping the ball on the deck into my ear. On top of this the stewards are predicatably confusing in their instructions: we’re allowed to eat and drink while standing cramped at the back of the stands (in a crowd of unmasked people) but not at our newly-isolated seats. Someone hasn’t thought this through.

Vasas have put out a strong team. Gangly young prospect Milán Kovács gets a well-deserved start in midfield, while the formidable strikeforce of Balajti and Róbert Feczesin leads the line in another must-win match for the team’s promotion hopes.

It takes just 2 minutes for Kovács to make his mark. His long, spidery legs nick the ball before the Soroksár defender’s outstreched leg brings him down on the edge of the box. The ever-improving Erik Silye‘s freekick takes a huge deflection to beat the keeper and make it 1-0.

Milán Kovács and Ádám Balajti (photo from Vasas Facebook page)

It feels only right in my (possibly) final Vasas match report to pay tribute to one Ádám Balajti. I’ve written reams about Bala over the last few years: his inexhaustable love of stepovers, refusal to wear shinpads, dinked finishes and – of course – his near immaculate penalties. If you could custom-build a cult hero from scratch, you’d get an exact replica of the swarthy journeyman.

But with all my blathering and gushing it’s easy to forget that Bala does the “simple” job of putting the ball in the net regularly very well. Just 4 minutes later and it’s 2-0. Silye again with good work down the left, gets to the byline and cuts it back hard and low for Balajti on the edge of the box to slam home with his first touch. There’s a reason why he’s scored an astonishing 64 goals in just 3 seasons at the club.

The freescoring Ádám Balajti (photo from Vasas Facebook page)

12 minutes later and Feczesin drains the swamp all over again. Botond Terbe floats a perfect ball in from the right and the part-man, part-machine striker dangles out a leg to tap it home for 3-0. If Vasas can keep Fecz and Bala on the pitch they’ll be up there come the end of the season.

After that it’s job done and foot off the gas time. Soroksár get one back on the hour mark but the game’s long gone for them. It’s a bittersweet way to end my time here but the Vasas promotion push is well and truly back on – I’ll be watching from afar.

Vasas 3 – 1 Soroksár (Silye, Balajti, Feczesin)

The next you hear from me will probably be from Bahrain, when I head back to my old stomping ground covering newly-relegated (of course – god forbid I watch top-flight football) Al-Shabab (no, not that one). It’ll be a very different experience but one I’m looking forward to.

A whole new cast of characters in next season’s Sub Story – Al-Shabab FC.

Thanks for the years of ups and downs Vasas. Hajrá Vasas, Hajrá Angyalföld!

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