Everything Looks Pre-Planned With These Hungarians
May 12, 2014 4:12 AM   Subscribe

"On 25 November 1953, an international football match was played between Hungary - then the world's number one ranked team, the Olympic champions and on a run of 24 unbeaten games, and England... The British press referred to it as the "Match of the Century" - the originators of the game, against the finest team in the world at that time."

[via] The Guardian - 60 years on from the game that stunned a nation

The match on wikipedia

How they lined up:


GK 1 Gil Merrick (Birmingham City)
RB 2 Alf Ramsey (Tottenham Hotspur)
LB 3 Bill Eckersley (Blackburn Rovers)
RH 4 Billy Wright (Wolverhampton Wanderers) (c)
CB 5 Harry Johnston (Blackpool)
LH 6 Jimmy Dickinson (Portsmouth)
RW 7 Stanley Matthews (Blackpool)
IR 8 Ernie Taylor (Blackpool)
CF 9 Stan Mortensen (Blackpool)
IL 10 Jackie Sewell (Sheffield Wednesday)
LW 11 George Robb (Tottenham Hotspur)

Manager: England Walter Winterbottom


GK 1 Gyula Grosics (Honvéd) (c) Substituted off 78'
RB 2 Jenő Buzánszky (Dorogi)
LB 3 Mihály Lantos (Vörös Lobogó)
DM 4 József Bozsik (Honvéd)
CB 5 Gyula Lóránt (Honvéd)
CB 6 József Zakariás (Vörös Lobogó)
RW 7 László Budai (Honvéd)
FW 8 Sándor Kocsis (Honvéd)
AM 9 Nándor Hidegkuti (Vörös Lobogó)
FW 10 Ferenc Puskás (Honvéd)
LW 11 Zoltán Czibor (Honvéd)

(Substitutions: GK 12 Sándor Gellér (Vörös Lobogó) Substituted in 78th Min.)

Manager: Gusztáv Sebes

Wikipedia article on Football Positions Through The Ages

Things to look out for:

1) Foul Throws.
2) Backpass to the keeper.
3) Offside? Jonathan Wilson explains the history of the offside law
4) Trequartista?
5) Name That Commentator.
6) Alf Ramsey.

if you haven't time to watch the whole match, the first 5-10 minutes will suffice - it doesn't change.

[spoiler warning -England Fans - look away now and keep looking away!]

Short Highlights clip of the reverse fixture the following year (warning - loud Hungarian commentary)

In other Football News, the World Cup starts in 1 months time...
posted by marienbad (21 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Fascinating and timely—thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 6:02 AM on May 12

A read of Inverting the Pyramid is a good way to pass the time before Brazil next month. It's a pretty accessible history of soccer tactics and at the very least will give you a spiel when someone at the bar asks "The hell does 'offside' mean?"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:47 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]

England Squad Announced..

Looking forward to seeing others posted up...
posted by marienbad at 8:10 AM on May 12

The Guardian has also been running an excellent series: 25 stunning World Cup moments. The moments themselves are mostly famous and familiar but the writing has been very enjoyable. For example, check out the Bergkamp goal article - after watching this (YT, 0:37) again, of course.
posted by shortfuse at 8:44 AM on May 12

I love the Dutch version of the Bergkamp clip, just for the announcer screaming DENNIS BERGKAMP! over and over again.

If I ever go on a Milk & Cheese-inspired crime spree, I will be yelling "Dennis Bergkamp!" the entire time.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:02 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]

I am also listening to Handel's Coronation Overtures as I watch the Bergkamp clips. Seems apropriate.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:05 AM on May 12

Oh wow, excellent! I've heard loads about this game, but never knew a film of it existed. Don't have time to watch the whole thing right now, but that first goal (1:00-1:12 on the video) - terrible defending by England. 7 players standing around doing nothing.
posted by IanMorr at 9:11 AM on May 12

so, they blotted their copybook?

6-3 would be a close game in american football. wikipedia said mr. winterbottom had no previous professional coaching experience. isn't that like a fan replacing jim harbaugh at the helm of the SF 49ers? why yes, i can wear a headset, walk up and down the sideline, call plays and bellow orders at people, just like he can!
posted by bruce at 9:13 AM on May 12

Mind you, terrible defending for the England equalizer too. (15:04-15:20). 3 Hungarians standing in midfield doing nothing as the England strikers run in behind them.
posted by IanMorr at 9:21 AM on May 12

Holy shit, the winger who crosses for Puskas' famous pullback goal could have stopped for tea before a defender got near him. (22:30).

Alright, I'll stop posting every single comment in the thread now, but thanks for posting this, it's great.
posted by IanMorr at 9:41 AM on May 12

This loss is the base of a few Goon Show jokes. Nice to know what they were referring to.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:53 AM on May 12

"that first goal (1:00-1:12 on the video) - terrible defending by England. "

Hidegkuti is in acres of space, no one knows whether to come or go, it is unreal, we were completely out-thought. Also, England have 3 touches of the ball before the goal, and one of them is a throw in.

"the winger who crosses for Puskas' famous pullback goal could have stopped for tea before a defender got near him. (22:30)."

That would be the Hungarian Left Winger Czibor playing on the Right Wing. The drag-back is almost Cryuffian.
posted by marienbad at 10:06 AM on May 12

Even the throw in they only got 'cos of a foul throw!

The little juggle Puskas does before passing for the 6th (52:11) goal is great too. What a player.
posted by IanMorr at 11:21 AM on May 12

wikipedia said mr. winterbottom had no previous professional coaching experience. isn't that like a fan replacing jim harbaugh at the helm of the SF 49ers?

Not really. He'd played professionally and had been managing the England national team since the '40s. Winterbottom wasn't the problem; the rest of the English football establishment was.
posted by asterix at 11:30 AM on May 12

Watching the 1974 World Cup final makes for an interesting comparison to this match. Both teams are more organized, and the level of technical ability has gotten better, but there's still so much more space and so much less purpose than in a contemporary game. Watch Cruyff's run in the first minute (the one that ends in a penalty); he carries the ball from the halfway line into the box without a real challenge on him. That would never happen today.

(And going back to the '53 game: listen to the announcer talk about Puskás juggling before kickoff. These days goalkeepers are expected to have that level of skill.)
posted by asterix at 11:36 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

Hidegkuti ought to be remembered as well as Puskas, IMO. His positioning and role was the revolutionary one -- a striker with the ability and mandate to also be a distributor positioned high up the field. That's the position that Don Revie, Francesco Totti, Wayne Rooney and (to some extent) Messi all play today.

In many ways the Magyars of 1949-54 was a team that was tactically well ahead of their time.
posted by all the versus at 12:16 PM on May 12

There are pubs in Hungary simply called 6-3. No explanation is required. It is one of those figures/numbers that is ingrained in very soul of all Hungarians. Like '56'. The match is the very stuff of legends.

A great post marienbad. Thank you.
posted by vac2003 at 3:43 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

There are pubs in Hungary simply called 6-3
For example, here is one at 62 Lónyai utca in Budapest.
posted by vac2003 at 3:57 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

So, these were the good ol' days when players didn't purposely fall and wince as if they were in pain - delaying the game for some possible gain - stifling momentum or some such?
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:16 PM on May 12

Yes in terms of that which you speak, but if you watch the game you will see just how dire England are at that point, and so technically and tactically, no.
posted by marienbad at 3:16 AM on May 13

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