Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Mighty Magyars and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

"There is no more illustrious history than the history of the Magyar nation"
--Theodore Roosevelt

Yes, sometimes the Hungarian pride comes out. Hungary has existed in many forms over the years. For those of you who know me, I have long believed that a sustained diaspora from Hungary in the 20th century has affected the world broadly, and positively in many ways. However, a lot of cool things have come from within Hungary as well.

Watching Italy and England play today I'm inspired to share the story of The Magical Magyars of the 1950's. A team that once upon a time revolutionized soccer and dominated the world for years such that losing to West Germany in the 1954 world cup (beating Brazil in the quarters, and holders Uraguay in the semis) is referred to as "Das Wunder von Bern" ("The Miracle of Bern"). Just a year earlier they stunned England, and the entire world with the first foreign win at Wembley against England ever:

To quote directly from the FIFA website:
Sometimes referred to as the 'Match of the Century', Hungary's 6-3 demolition of England at Wembley Stadium in 1953 is seen by many to mark the birth of football's modern age. If so, then Gusztav Sebes, the manager of the 'Magical Magyars,' was the man most responsible for the game's shaping place in football history.
Though rightly remembered for the beauty of their play and the brilliance of the world-class players in their ranks, the feats of Hungary's Aranycsapat (Golden Team) also marked a turning point in tactics, group dynamics and on-field fluidity. Sebes's side have come to be regarded as a precursor for the most skilled and intelligent teams in the sport's subsequent history. As Hungary's inspirational captain Ferenc Puskas once said: "When we attacked, everyone attacked, and in defence it was the same. We were the prototype for Total Football."
And Johnathan Stevenson from the BBC Relates (quoting Jackie Sewell and of great England fame Sir Bobby Robson):

As if to prove their point, the rampant Hungarians demolished England 7-1 in a friendly in Budapest six months later. The old way of playing was over but a bond between the teams that would last several decades had begun.
In November 1993, the remaining survivors were invited to Budapest for a grand dinner to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hungary's famous win. "I've never experienced the sort of camaraderie with anyone else that we had with that team," Sewell told me. "There was a terrific bond between the players and it never went away.
"We were shown around Budapest, taken to some vineyards and then plonked on a big stage with TV cameras around where they presented us with these gold cups. It was marvellous, they really looked after us - but that's the sort of people they were."

Some interesting records:
  • World Record: most consecutive games scoring at least one goal: 73 games (April 10, 1949 to June 16, 1957).
  • World Record: longest time undefeated in 20th and 21st centuries: 4 years 1 month (June 4, 1950 to July 4, 1954). 
  • World Cup Record: 27 goals scored in a single World Cup finals tournament.
  • World Cup Record: 5.4 goals-per-match in a single World Cup finals tournament.
  • World Cup Record: +17 goal differential in a single World Cup finals tournament.
  • World Cup Record: 2.2 goals-per-match average for individual goal scoring in a single World Cup finals tournament (Sándor Kocsis 11 goals in 5 games).
  • World Cup Record: highest margin of victory ever recorded in a World Cup finals tournament match ( Hungary 9, South Korea 0 – July 17, 1954).
Some interesting notables:
  • First national side from outside the British Isles to defeat England at home since the codification of association football in 1863, a span of 90 years
  • First non-South American national side to defeat Uruguay (July 30, 1954), breaking a 17 game Uruguayan unbeaten run against non-South American competition dating from May 26, 1924.
  • First national side to defeat the Soviet Union at home (Sept. 23 1956)

Unfortunately the story's end begins just one month later with the start of the hungarian revolution. The revolt began with a student protest marching on parliament. When state security forces fired on the demonstrators, killing one, the news spread and violence erupted in the capital. Within a week militias quickly formed, fighting with the state and soviet troops, and had disbanded the existing government.

The majority of the team played for Budapest Honvéd and was out of the country playing Athletic Bilbao and chose, not to return as the revolution had erupted. While some players eventually chose to return to Hungary, 3 notables moved to Spain to play for Real Madrid and Barcelona.

On October 30th, the Soviet politburo decided to withdraw from Hungary. For a short time it looked like the peace would continue. On October 31st, the committee reversed it's decision, and by November 3rd Russian tanks had encircled Budapest, and on the 4th they rolled in, and the rest is history.

Hungary was brought back into the fold, and the diaspora continued. One other interesting interesting side story is the Hungarian waterpolo team which was training in the mountains near Budapest in preparation for the Sydney Olympics. They left the country, avoiding the revolution, and by December when the olympics happened, the revolution had been fully suppressed. Hungary beat the Soviet Union 4-0, in a heated match. Photos of a bleeding Ervin Zádor spread, and before to long the contest had been termed "The blood in the water match."


Awesome 30 minute video about Ferenc Puskás

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