The Friendly Match Fleet Street Tried to Stop - Hull City v Vasas

Friendly games between clubs from different countries were still relatively a novelty in the early to mid 50's as they invariably had to be played midweek and very few clubs had floodlights to facilitate larger crowds to cover the costs involved.

The Tigers were one of the few clubs in the country to have floodlights when the mighty Vasas of Budapest chose to tour England on the back of the famous 6-3 defeat of the England team at Wembley. The Hungarian uprising had not occurred and people like Ferenc Puskas were still playing domestic football in Hungary. The fact that Vasas (it means someone who works with metals – the club being founded by iron workers) were mighty may intrigue people now, but they vied with the legendary Honved for premier place and won both the Hungarian League and Cup during this era and twice lifted the Mitropa Cup, which was the forerunner of the European Cup in many ways, at this time.

How mighty Vasas were can be seen from their touring itinerary for that trip – matches against the tops clubs in Britain - Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City... followed by struggling and lowly Hull City. (It is interesting to note that Maine Road had lights some years before Old Trafford and that Manchester United's first games in Europe were played at the cross city rivals' ground.)

Most commentators on football expressed mild concern at the outset about the Tigers playing Vasas. At the time I was just a child and contemporary accounts are hard to find, but I recall that by the time Vasas had trounced the best in the land, national newspapers pleaded for the match at Hull to be withdrawn from the schedule.

However, it did go ahead before a bumper Boothferry Park crowd, with one very tired little lad (me) sat in the trainers' dugout beside "the old fella". The result? Hull City 3 Vasas 0 - the Tigers played them off the park and they did put out a full-strength team.