Forty Three Years On
Since our own club’s last major trophy win we have seen many ups and downs and a trophy drought spanning 43 years and counting. So what of our opponents and the clear favourites on that day, Ujpest Dozsa, and the Hungarian champions of that season picking up the club’s 10th domestic title. Since then they have gone on to pick up a further 10 titles, the last one coming during the season of our ill-fated F.A Cup final in 1998. Aside from the 20 league championships, Ujpest have finished runners up on 21 occasions and as recently as 2009.
As well as being serial title winners, the club Ujpest are one of Hungary’s oldest and have been through several name changes since formation in 1885, after a similar merger between two clubs Ujpesti TE and Ujpesti F.C. in the then City of Ujpest before it was swallowed up by the growing capital of Budapest.
Within which the current Ujpest F.C is now contained in a reversion to the name first used after the introduction of professional football to Hungary in 1926, a year before our own fourth and final title triumph to date and 3 years before the first of 20 for the ‘Lilak’.
Ujpest Briefly changed to the snappy Budapesti Dozsa Sport Egyesulet to reflect this 6 years later, before reverting back to the club’s original moniker Ujpesti TE, only to go back to the name etched in Black & White minds Of Ujpest Dozsa (Sport Club) a year later in 1957. Retaining that name until 1991 before reverting back again to the club’s original name between 1991 and 1998. Despite the apparent indecisiveness over the club’s name, Ujpest have always worn the purple and white colours and have the distinction of being one of only 2 teams never to miss a domestic season in Hungary.
The team defeated by Newcastle in the Fairs Cup Final went on to pick up every league title between 1969 and 1975, adding further silverware to the cabinet by winning the Hungarian Cup in 1969 and again in 1970, a historic 2 in a row double, the club during this period became known as Magic Ujpest. Ujpest have continued to pick up their domestic cup semi-regularly since the last coming in 2002. A year in which they also picked up the Hungarian super cup, a game similar to our own community shield.
Despite a fine domestic history and consistent European qualification the most notable marks on the European front since that final defeat were by making 2 European Cup Qtr Finals and 1 Semi in the early seventies, the Semi Final V Bayern Munich 1974 being the highlight. Ujpest managed a draw (1-1) in Munich but were overcome 1-4 by the eventual winners Bayern back in Budapest. However, Ujpest were winners of the 1930 Coupe Des Nations beating Slavia Prague 3-0 in the final of the competition held in Geneva. This was the first time an organized competition between Europe’s national champions had taken place and as such is considered by some as the European Cup’s forerunner.
Fans after our own heart, the Ujpest support laud their goalscorers and in the years following 69 they were spoilt by a team containing the likes of Laszlo Fazekas, 252 goals in 407 appearances for the club, and another silver boot winner Antal Dunai, plus the five times domestic top scorer Ferenc Bene. All of whom appeared over the 2 legs of the 69 final, Bene being the only one of the feted threesome who managed a goal over the 2 legs, scoring the opening goal of the 2nd leg at the Megryi Uti Stadium.
In more recent times, Ujpest have not quite been the force they once where but maintain their presence as one of Hungary’s top clubs and a fierce rivalry with Ferencvaros. The club has still appeared regularly in European competition although the last came during Newcastle’s championship season of 2009/10, going out in the 2nd qualifying round to a 4-1 aggregate defeat by Steau Bucharest. Ujpest’s last appearance in Europe’s elite competition in 1998 also ended in the 2nd qualifying round with a 7-1 defeat to Austria’s Sturm Graz.
On the domestic front the club’s last league title came during 1997-1998 season, a year they also lost out narrowly(1-0) to MTK Budapest in the Hungarian cup (Magyar Kupa). League form like our own has been up and down since the turn of the millennium as the club has struggled with finances and varied between mid-table finishes and 3 runners up finishes in the Hungarian Nemetzi Bajnoksag 1 (top flight).
Ujpest finished last season in 6th spot after a period of upheaval where many experienced players departed the club and were replaced by players from the club’s youth system in an effort to balance the books. After this unexpected success, hopes were high for the new season but inconsistency from a young squad sees Ujpest Lying in 10th place going into the mid-season break.
So if like myself you always thought our opponents on that famous day in Magpie history had reached their Zenith in 1969 and then faded into obscurity, that is far from the truth.
Although that process does appear to have started since the fall of communism and the general decline of Hungarian football, so it will be interesting to see where the club is in another 43 years.
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