Monday, May 9, 2011

In Hungary the monopoly of Ujpesti Dozsa continued – 7th title in a row since 1969. Add the Hungarian Cup for a double this year. And not so bad performances in the European Champions Cup. Ujpesti Dozsa was mighty and unstoppable.
1st row, left to right: Kellner, Harsanyi, Horvath, Juhasz.
2nd row: Kolar, Toth, Dunai III, Nagy.
3rd row: Rothermel, Fazekas, Dunai II, Szigethi.
4th row: Fekete, Bene, Zambo.
Well, Ujpesti Dozsa followed the path of every big club – almost everybody in the squad played for the Hungarian national team at one time or another. The reserves were strong. Good players from other teams were brought when needed – for instance, when their old goalkeeper Szentmihalyi, a veteran national team player, was retiring, Rothermel, also playing for the national team, was recruited from a small club. No sweat. Good youngsters were available too to replace old horses smoothly. So it seemed… effortless transitions, keeping the team always on top. But… if one looks at the squad 6-7 years ago, something not so optimistic was detectable: it was essentially the same squad in 1970 and in 1975. Bene, Zambo, Fazekas, Nagy, Juhasz, Dunai II and Dunai III… Getting older. Yes, some other players – like Szentmihalyi – retired and were replaced by young players, who were in the team for few years already – therefore, no longer very young. Promising at first, winning with the club and included in the national team and destined for a great future, the former youngsters somehow reached their limits and those limits were unfortunately lower than the qualities of the players they originally replaced: Kellner, Harsanyi, Kolar, Szigethi were only good, not great. Perhaps the best example was Fekete, seen as replacement of Bene at first. Great future was predicted for him – by 1975 it was clear that he was not to be ‘the next great Hungarian player’. Better than Bene? No… Ujpesti Dozsa were coming to the end of their great spell – the team was no longer developing. It was experienced, settled, strong – but increasingly predictable and same. I saw them in the fall of 1974 and they played very open and energetic approximation of total football; they were fun to watch; yet, it was quite clear that they were not capable of more. Shining in Hungary, shining against East European clubs, good against West Europeans… but not good enough to win international tournament. At the end, Fazekas was the greatest player of this squad – but this was visible much later, in retrospect. However, in 1975 it was not obvious at all that this team was not going to continue winning.