Stadion Hidegkuti Nándor, Budapest, Hungary

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Stadion Hidegkuti Nándor, Budapest VIII

Club: MTK Hungária FC Budapest
Capacity: 12.700 (5.700 seats)
Opened: March 31 1912

Tram 1 in the Hungarian capital could easily be nicknamed the Stadium line”. When you take the tram at Ferencváros stadium in the direction of the National Stadium, you’ll pass, within only a few kilometers, 2 adjacent antique football arenas. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the wonderful ruins where I rode past was the home of the proud leader in the Hungarian League: MTK Hungária FC Budapest.
The full name of the club is a mouthful Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre Hungária Futball Club Budapest”. Which translates loosely to “Association of Hungarian practitioners of physical exercise”. The Association with the chosen club colours of blue and white was founded in 1888. The club has Jewish roots and is today mainly popular with intellectuals”. The first decades of the 20th century MTK dominated, along with archrival Ferencváros, the Hungarian Football. What’s more, between 1903 and 1929 all Hungarian Championships were distributed among both superpowers. Of their 23 league titles (the last being in 2008) MTK won 7 in the 1920s. Added to those the club has 12 national cups and 2 Mitropa Cups in the trophy case (1955 + 1963). In 1964 the Hungarians just missed the UEFA Cup winners’ Cup. The final against Sporting CP at the Heysel in Brussels became after a 3-3 tie and was 2 days later repeated at the Bosuil in Antwerp. MTK lost that replay with the smallest difference.
For almost its entire existence the club has had to cope with anti-Semitic behaviour. After persistent harassment during the 30’s of the last century the “Jewish team ceased operations during the second world war. After the war, MTK was again created and this time adopted by the Hungarian secret service. In the early 1950s the club name changed to Vörös Lobogó but that name change only lasted 4 years. After the last League title in 2008 MTK ended the season 200809 on a disappointing 7th place in the Soproni Liga. In 2011 the club even relegated but gained promotion from the second division immediately. In the extreme right-wing Hungarian supporters landscape the club still faces expressions of anti-Jewish hatred on a regular basis.
After a record building time of barely half a year,the stadium with athletics track and a capacity of 20,000 was inaugurated on 31 March 1912. Same as the arch-rivals of Ferencváros MTK also continued to expand the stadium during the following years. The capacity doubled during the 30’s to 40,000. When the club folded during the war years every splinter of wood was robbed from the stadium. So after the war a new concrete main stand was erected, the building quality however was of such poor quality that the club for a while had to play at the stadium of their green-white rivals. The current stand dates back to 1952 and was modernized in recent years. Thanks to floodlights evening games at Hidegkuti Nándor are possible since 1987.
When I passed the stadium for the first time on a drizzly Sunday morning the gates were firmly closed. The outside of the stadium could use a lick of paint and is of little interest to the average football fan. For groundhoppers however observing the dilapidated infrastructure is a real pleasure. Long live the desolation of past glory!
When I passed Stadium again 2 days later, I saw that the gate close to the street was open and I took the liberty to take a look within the stadium walls. Luckily the inside is less ruinous than the outside suggests. Still, the chairs on the open all seated stand opposite the main stand have lost their shine and color through years of exposure to the bright sunlight. The terraces” behind both goals breathe pure nostalgia. Behind one of the goals a statue of György Orth was unveiled on 8 May 1974. This in 1962 deceased exfootball player who ended his playing career at MTK, mainly gained fame as a football manager. In addition to a career in his own country, Orth worked in Italy, Chile, Nazi-Germany, Mexico, Peru and Portugal, where he died at the age of 60.
Sources:

Fussball Derbys: die 75 Fußball-verrücktesten Städte der Welt. GISLER Omar, uitg. Copress Sport

Sporting Spaces (in de reeks „ Our Budapest“). ZEIDLER Miklós, uitg. City Hall