Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hungary 2 - Austria 0

I got up today at 4.00 am to watch the Hungary v. Austria game in the the Euro Cup competition. I wake up in the middle of the night any way, so it was no special hardship, but I watched the game to share it with my late father. One of my childhood memories is listening to the commentary on the Hungary v. Austria game with my father approx 1947 or 1948. There was, of course, no television, we listened to the commentary on the radio. This was the biggest annual sporting fixture. The commentator was Pluhar whose distinctive voice was so well known that people imitated him. He covered sporting events for generations. Football played an important part in my father's life. He witnessed the ticker parade when the Ferencvaros football team was carried on people's shoulders through the Ninth District, the Ferencvaros, after their European tour in 1911 - 1912 when they beat  teams in Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin, and the biggest scalp, the English Premier side, Woking in London. My father was 10 years old. Celebrated players, Imre Schlosser, whose playing career spanned over twenty years, Gyuri Sarosi, who played for Ferencvaros for eighteen years and his younger brother, Bela, not to mention more recent players, Puskas, Bozsik, Hidegkuti,  were part of the family lore. Ferencvaros was a sports club with a number of amateur and youth teams and my father played for one of these teams. He was a skilled footballer even in middle age. I myself kicked a football around on the waste ground in Budapest with friends, on the tiny enclosed courtyard of my school, the Jewish Gimnazium, and when we moved to New Zealand I played soccer, (in New Zealand football is rugby and soccer is football) and my great ambition was to get into the first, or at least the second eleven of my school. Those were the days when the Hungarian national team, lead by Puskas, was the best in the world. It was perhaps a great disappointment to the football coach of our school that I was not made of the same mettle. I worked hard to get fit, pounded the pavement every evening, and though I was a puny teenager with a slightly dickie heart, I made one of the school teams. Once I was even mentioned in the Manawatu Evening Standard, commended for my enthusiastic defence. School sport was big news in Palmerston North. I  played football when I came to Wellington to university. My footballing career came to an end when on one occasion I couldn't find the ground we were meant to be playing at. Who knew where Macalister Park was and how to get there by tram? So when I turned on the TV today to watch the Hungarian team play Austria in Bordeaux there was more to it than watching just any ordinary sporting encounter. I relived part of my life and shared it with my father. That Hungary won against great odds was a bonus.