College team with a century of sports heritage

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Sharing hosting duties of the Euro U-17 Championship, the DEAC Stadion is the modest home of the Debrecen University Athletic Club, second banana to nearby DVSC in Hungary’s second city.

In over a century of activity, multi-sports society DEAC has seen its football team play a few short seasons in Hungary’s second tier, NBII. The most recent came in 2020-21, a one-campaign sojourn coinciding with that of Hungary’s seven-time champions based at the Nagyerdei Stadion.

The regular European competitors duly claimed top spot to return to NBI after the aberration of relegation, while DEAC finished firmly bottom. Calling the decorated railway team and DEAC ‘city rivals’ would be geographically correct, and the two would meet again in the Hungarian Cup in 2022. 

Their grounds are separated by a pleasant stroll across Nagyerdei Park, past the stately university to which DEAC are attached. But they are leagues apart in so many ways, not least in Hungary’s football hierarchy. This is a university sports club whose focus is traditionally athletics.

This has been the case since 1906, when the Debrecen Academic Athletic Club (DAAC) was founded. While football was included in the sports practised by students when the club was reformed as DEAC in 1919, a pitch laid in 1921, the running track saw the most action, particularly after the current stadium was unveiled in 1928.

While football remained a relatively serious pursuit, woman long jumper Olga Gyarmati earned the club the most kudos by winning gold at the London Olympics in 1948 – although she had moved to Vasas by then, DEAC having been briefly dissolved by the newly established Communist authorities. The locally born athlete defected after the 1956 Games, made it to England and then headed to the States. She died a lonely recluse in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 2013.

Another Olympian, 1968 gold-medal winner Gyula Zsivótzky, set a world record for the hammer throw at the DEAC Stadion in 1965. On the football side of things, the team at last made the second tier, NBII, in the early 1960s, when it was formed of two divisions, then again 20 years later, when there were three.

In recent times, a link-up with suppliers Szertár Sportbolt allowed the club to attract players of a higher quality, most notably former DVSC striker and Hungarian international Zsombor Kerekes, who had won a league title as recently 2009 when he came on board in 2011. 

Coupled the club’s 90th anniversary celebrations – Professor István Nyirkos was named hereditary president and honoured with a bust at the stadium – it raised the club’s profile as never before.

Across Nagyerdei park, DVSC were regular European competitors, making Debrecen Hungary’s provincial football capital, overtaking Győr and Székesfehérvár.

In 2020, promotion for DEAC to NBII for the first time since 1989 involved more old hands from DVSC: twice title-winners, defender Zoltán Nagy and Loki legend Ibrahima Sidibe. Although nearly 40, the Senegalese striker still had the chops to hit nine in three months of the DEAC’s winning campaign, the last against Debrecen II, DVSC’s reserve side.

Sidibe still managed to notch three in NBII but DEAC were clearly out of their depth, and returned to the relative ease of NBIII.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The DEAC Stadion dates back to the 1920s, the first grass pitch laid in 1921 and a stadium built around it five years later. It was designed by Aladár Mattyók, who had also worked on the Millenáris before the World Cycling Championship in 1928.

That same year, the Minister of Culture, Kuno Klebelsberg, came to officially open the stadium, further evidence of its status between the wars.

While Olympic-class athletes continued to run, jump and throw here, the football team rarely rose above the third tier, spectators filling a few rows in the sturdy wooden stand still in place today.

Still separated by a running track, the lush pitch is lined along the other sideline by a low, roofed, new stand of seating in the DEAC colours of white and black.

Visiting supporters are placed at the far end, diagonally opposite the bar beside beside the main stand, one of the finest of its kind in Hungary. The corner is anchored by the DEAC clubhouse, where members also gather to watch the game over a beer from their terrace table.

Behind the goals are all the trappings of track and field, along with tennis courts. Stadium capacity is 1,500.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

The DEAC sports complex lies at the far western edge of Nagyerdei park, on Dóczy József utca. While it has its own bus stop, Egyetemi sporttelep, services there are either infrequent or not convenient from town. Half-hourly bus 10 from Debrecen station, Nagyállomás, via the main cultural centre of Kölcsey Közpönt, is the best bet, stopping at Kartács utca five minutes from the stadium. Allow 20mins from the station.

Alternatively, frequent tram 1/weekend bus 1V goes straight up from the station, through the city centre, to Egyetem 20mins away. From there, the ground is a 10-15min walk, past the grand university building and keeping in the same direction.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

On DEAC match days, tickets are a straightforward Ft500/€1.30, cash only, from the little window to the right of the main gate as you enter, with the stadium bar Teniszke to your left. There are student and senior reductions of around 50%.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

You’ll see little DEAC merchandise on sale, even on match days. The DVSC Shop at the Nagyerdei Stadion usually carries a modest selection of white-and-black collegiate souvenirs.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

First things first. The Teniszke is one of the finest stadium bars you’ll find in Hungary, its covered terrace overlooking the action from the angle of the corner flag, meaning a couple of tables closest to the pitch might be reserved by name.

Inside is a cosy mess of football scarves galore, including a match-day one from the Debrecen-Torino game in the Europa League, plus at least one screen beaming TV sport. Attila, your friendly barman, dispenses Pilsner Urquell, Dreher and Arany Ászok as the place fills with buzzy bonhomie.

There are more outside seats just beyond the terrace, dovetailing with others adjoining the clubhouse. This means that a fair few spectators never bother with a seat in the two sideline stands and wisely plump for a bar table in the sun with the action observed from a different angle.

On your approach to the ground from Egyetem tér near the tram stop, if you veer slightly to the left, you’ll find the somewhat upscale Next Bistro, whose terrace overlooks the stately university building and fountains, and whose prime steaks are sizzled on a Josper grill. Fine wines may accompany. There’s TVs inside, too. If you’re just after pre-match scran, the Academy Grill  next door should suffice. No booze, though.