Rajko Purovic: The Hoax That Fooled Football

By Daniel Cochran

In these long empty days of self-isolation with nought but Belarusian football to look forward to, the mind inevitably drifts to the past. A post on Facebook a few days back reminded me of my friend Leon Ward’s crowning moment of bullshittery back in 2009. I caught up with him to discuss the saga of Rajko Purovic: the Middlesbrough transfer target that never was.

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Boro and Vasas: Two very different failures

We’re a day removed from the promotion chances of the both my home and adopted teams going up in smoke. Middlesbrough seemed to be heading for the playoffs before a late Derby charge put paid to their hopes, while Vasas didn’t do themselves any favours by dropping 5 vital points this week. Although Vasas still have two games remaining, a 6 point deficit means there’s next to no way they’re getting out of NBii this year.

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Comeback Kings (Vasas FC vs. Balmazujvaros Sport)

I got to see the inside of a Hungarian public hospital last week; a hernia surgery meaning I missed the last few Vasas matches. Whilst the aesthetic was a wee bit Cold War and the welcome not as warm as the dear old NHS, I am now the proud owner of three small scars and a fixed stomach – thanks to the staff at Péterfy Kórház for that. And so I managed to get myself up and about in time to see Vasas play Balmazujvaras, a team determined to take top spot from Nyiregyhaza in the “teams whose names I can’t pronounce” stakes.

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Fish in a Barrel (Vasas FC vs. ETO FC Győr)

Photo from http://www.vasasfc.hu

It’s hard to motivate yourself to write after watching such a complete capitulation. Let’s get the score out of the way early. Vasas lost 4-0 today and – without exaggeration – it should have been at least seven. Győr were incisive, playing dangerous balls through the Vasas backline with alarming and repeated ease. I was surprised by how well the away team played given their league position; their direct, first-touch, purposeful work too much for a Vasas team that seem to have frittered away their pre-Christmas confidence. Tóth and Kelemen in the Vasas defence were bypassed by slide-rule passes to Győri strikers at will, and the pacy forwards gave them a torrid time all game.

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Hiding in Plain Sight (Vasas FC vs. Siófok)

Workrate can be deceiving in football. A player can bustle around for 90 minutes with plenty of the ball and yet hold back his team through lack of intent. When players start to think that running around, making sideways passes and looking busy are the same as having purpose, teams get into trouble. Yes, the manager can’t fault the workrate, but matches aren’t won with directionless effort.

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A Tour of the New Vasas Stadium (Illovszky Rudolf Stadium)

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The nearly-completed Illovszky Rudolf Stadion – future home of Vasas FC.

Due to an improbable series of events, I ended up being interviewed on Hungarian national media for creating an Instagram account about statues (@statuesofbudapest – should you be curious). The topic of the interview turned to football and I mentioned how I’d come to support Vasas since arriving in Budapest (namely – I like underdogs and the shared ironworking history of Vasas and Middlesbrough).

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A Game Too Far (Jubilo Iwata vs. Tokyo Verdy – J1 Playoff Final)

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Jubilo’s Koki Ogawa breaks Tokyo Verdy hearts in the J1 League Promotion/Relegation Playoff.

Before coming over to Hungary I lived in Tokyo and followed Verdy who – like Vasas FC – are another former championship-winning side fallen on hard times. Tokyo Verdy (formerly Yomiuri Verdy and Verdy Kawasaki) won Japan’s top flight 7 times in the 80s and 90s, boasting players such as legendary goal-snaffler Kazu Miura and Brazilian-born Japan international Ruy Ramos.

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Young Guns Go For It (Vasas FC vs. Ceglédi VSE)

With no league win in six and a managerial firing, I have to say I wasn’t expecting much from the home team in this one. Ceglédi lay just a place and a few points below Vasas and had won two of their last three. They also have a kit that demostrates what an Ikea international team would wear. Surely they saw a chance to take a big scalp against a side lacking confidence and in freefall down the league table.

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Vaskó da Gonners (Vasas FC vs. Gyirmot FC Gyor)

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Full of innocent hope…

One of the unfair things about dipping into a team’s story is that you don’t get the whole sense of things. Take Tamás Vaskó for example. I’d never really given him a second thought before this season. I now know he was a Vasas youth product and played for Bristol City for a bit. I know also that he’s the definition of a journeyman (12 clubs in his career, barely time to paint the bathroom). I know that he has one of those slicked-back mohican hairdos that immediately unravel into a wet duck’s arse on the football pitch. I know that he’s a committed tackler and seems to be one of the few players who’s consistently given his all this season for the team…

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Birthday Bumps (Vasas FC vs. Dorogi FC)

The stop-start nature of Vasas’ season continues since my last blog entry.  A couple of wins, a couple of draws and a continuing tendency to throw games away means Vasas remain stuck in sixth place in the NBii. They’re also more than a clear win behind Zalaegerszeg and Gyor in the two promotion places.

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