LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Budapest bar marks 70 years of 6:3

Match of the Century celebrated at a classic spot

Bar once owned by 6:3 star Nándor Hidegkuti puts on a special anniversary event in Budapest

There could be no better setting for a celebration of one of football’s most iconic matches than the 6:3 Bar in Budapest. Once owned by the player who scored a hat-trick in the game, Nándor Hidegkuti, this cosy spot on Lónyay utca near Petőfi Bridge is now overseen by a trio of expats determined to stay true to the spirit of the surroundings.

Original memorabilia and photographs decorate the wood-panelled interior, where a video of the fixture, in which Hungary beat England 6-3 at Wembley on November 25, 1953, is played on a loop every anniversary.

As 2023 is the 70th such occasion, a quiz and raffle are also scheduled for this Saturday, prizes provided by the Kispesti Futball Ház, a superb museum dedicated to the Honvéd club in Kispest which provided the bulk of the legendary Hungarian national team of the early 1950s.

6:3 Borozó/Peterjon Cresswell

Both sides included boyhood friends Ferenc Puskás and József Bozsik, who grew up together beside the current Honvéd stadium, and who would spend most of their later lives separated by the Iron Curtain following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.

The poignancy of watching the 6:3 game, the so-called Match of the Century in which the hosts and old masters were played off the park by Hungary’s quick passing and positional interchanging, is the knowledge of what would follow. While Hungary, Olympic champions in 1952, were easily the best side of the era and hot favourites to win the World Cup in 1954, Puskás was then undone by injury, his teammates unable to move the ball so swiftly on the muddy surface of Berne on the day of the final.

Two years later, key members of the team decided to stay abroad rather than return to a Hungary cast into the darkest depths of Communism. The 90 minutes at Wembley in 1953, therefore, the original broadcast of which is no longer complete, represent the pinnacle of Hungarian ingenuity on the football pitch.

6:3 Borozó/Peterjon Cresswell

Fortunately, film of the 24th minute is still very much with us, a flash of pure instinctive skill in which Puskás foxes the England defence, most notably his later friend and team captain Billy Wright, with a drag-back and snap shot. As a moment of brilliance, it’s up there with Pelé’s dummy in the 1970 World Cup semi-final and Maradona’s slide-rule pass to Caniggia to beat Brazil in 1990.

For England, who, lest we forget, hadn’t actually played that many non-British sides at Wembley before 1953, a defeat of this magnitude on their own turf led to serious soul-searching and more laps around the pitch when training. For Hungary, so much about the game is steeped in legend, the radio commentary by György Szepesi, the Cumberland Hotel near Hyde Park where the team stayed, the heroic return to Budapest.

Today, as well as the 6:3 Bar, a huge mural on Rumbach Sebestyén utca near the Great Synagogue celebrates the event pictorially.

This Saturday, November 25, from 7pm, guests at the anniversary event at the 6:3 will include local journalists, bloggers and representatives of the Kispesti Futball Ház.

6:3 Borozó Wine Bar, Lónyay utca 62, 1093 Budapest. Trams 2, 4 & 6 to Boráros tér.