Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First division seemingly settled into old pattern this season – the outsiders firmly took the last three places, endangering nobody else. Then 10 clubs were packed closely – 6 points was the difference between the 6th and the 15th – satisfied with easy life, and five clubs stayed on top of the pyramid. High above the bulk of the league, but also divided into three groups – three clubs scrambled for the bronze medals, then lone candidate for silver, but unable to put a fight for the title. Boring division really, but only on the surface – there were few interesting things: first of them, in the relegation zone. The last place was taken by Vasas Izzo (Budapest), modest newcomers, clearly not up to the challenge of first division footballs. No surprise... with 14 points they ended not only last, but 9 points behind the 17th placed Haladas VSE. Not much of a surprise in their relegation either – one of the modest clubs, Haladas played hide and seek with relegation almost every year. Two points better than Haladas and 16th were Csepel SC.

Now this was a news: old, strong and successful in the past, Csepel sunk to 6th place in the ranking Budapest clubs long time ago too. A real mid-table club for years and without chances for anything else – but never really weak. Nobody expected them to win a title, but nobody was expecting them to sunk either. Well, they sunk this season and badly too – it was not a matter of bad luck, losing by a point or two. Their relegation was even unpleasant news, registering a deep and may be irreversible crisis. Sad to see old revered club going to the dogs. It was not the only dangerous sign – MTK (Budapest) finished 14th. Looked like there were no enough players, or money, or both, to keep all big Budapest clubs strong – and the first victims or new reality appeared. Another club finished at lower place than their usual – Videoton ended 9th.

Looked like they were not going to challenge the status quo and giving up the ghost after few promising seasons. Typical provincials, one may say... but it was not really that. Videoton was only a point behind the 6th placed team and if they were not among the top, they were not really going down either – rather, taking a brake... their climb was going to continue and reach its peak in the 1980s.
Tatabanya finiched 7th – a rare strong season for uneven club.

Third row, from left: Magyar György edző, Csepecz, Dupai, Monostori Tivadar vezetőedző, Nagy I., Szabó György csapatkapitány, Dombai, Sándor Imre gyúró.
Middle row: Lakatos, Arany, Udvardi, Néder, Csapó, Gálhidi.
Bottom row: Schmidt, Zsidó, Barabás, Tamás, Kisteleki, Knapik, Hegyi.
The only interesting thing about this team was the picture itself: nice in the snow.
Honved was at 5th place.
Honved was still not capable to run for the title. It was coming back, like Dukla in Czechoslovakia, but not ready yet.
A place above finished Vasas.

A little bit of decline was sensed – Vasas was trying to keep its place, but it was mostly on inertia. Good squad, but the core players were with the team for years and getting past their peak.
Honved and Vasas fought for third place, but the winners were Diósgyőri VTK (Miskolc).
An old club, always accociated with Diosgyor Ironworks, but as most provincial clubs, winning nothing. Regular member of first division, but mid-table club. Did not give any signs of improvement in the recent years, so they were a bit of a surprise.

No stars here – second-stringers at best – but they contributed to the trend of rising provinsial clubs: proved to be at equal footing with the top clubs and players, and holded their ground. The title was out of their reach, but they edged Hoved and Vasas, taking bronze medals. 2 points ahead of Vasas, second-best defence in the league (only Raba ETO received fewer goals), and 4th best striking line. Not bad, overall, but in local terms it was something else: the best season to date was 1976-77, when DVTK won the Cup for the first time. It was their only trophy... They preserved the winning squad and the boys continued to play well. The third place was of historic proportions – it was the highest place of the club in the league. Highest ever, it turned out: DVTK never reached such hights. Thus, the team is legendary and also the season. And the coach Geza Szabo is rigthtly creditid with the success – he made the greatest team in the history of the club, guiding it to success between 1974 and 1981. Significant season in every aspect – the club scored its 1000th goal in first division; played its 800th match in the league. A season to remember.
As good as Diosgyor were, they were not a match for Ferencvaros. Yes, the obvious suspect, but also the club wnich was somewhat unable to master a great team during the 1970s.

Full of national team players, lead by Laszlo Balint and Tibor Nyilasi, younger than aging Ujpesti Dosza , but there was a little something missing... Ofr course, Fradi stayed at the top, but... not really winning. And this year they were firmly second – above the rest of the league, and bellow the arch-rivals. Quite bellow – 5 points behind at the end. Silver medals do not count for Ferencvaros.
Ujpesti Dosza won their 18th title. Easily, judging by the final standings.

It was a victory true to the club's style in the 1970s – attacking and high scoring football. It also looked like Lilak managed to avoid the dreadful slump usually coming with inevitably aging squad – since 1975 the team was clearly over the hill, and change of generations was expected to make trouble – but Ujpesti Dosza managed to stay on top and continued winning. Looked like they were dodging crisis and the critical moment was over by now. Looked like...

The champions still had 9 players of the squad reaching its peak around 1975. Some were getting old (Zambo, Rothermel, Dunai), others already had reached their potential and were no longer promising material (Kolar, Kellner, Fekete). New stars emerged and by now were top Hungarian players – Torocsik, Kerekes, Kardos – but still the team was dominated by the old guard. To a point, the case of Ujpesti Dosza illuminated the state of Hungarian football in the 1970s: talent was scarce and no matter what, the older generation was getting the upper hand at least domestically. Pal Varhidi was very good coach and managed not only to outfox the rest of the league, but to keep his boys well above anybody else. Looked like... looked like Ujpesti Dosza would be constant winner. The future had a bitter surprise for the club and its fans – this title was their last for the next 10 years.