The demolition of the fences in front of the Bozsik Stadium stands may signal a new dawn at Budapest Honvéd FC as they resume their UEFA Cup campaign.
The ageing ground has seen some fine nights in the past, and Honvéd's new owner, American-born entrepreneur George F. Hemingway, is hoping to signal a fresh start for the club after being permitted to remove the fences which separate fans from the pitch. "We would like to bring football even closer to the fans, especially to families and children," he said.
Honvéd are hoping it will help reignite their European spark as they take on Nistru in the return leg of their UEFA Cup first qualifying round tie, having drawn 1-1 in Moldova last week. "In theory, 1-1 away is a good result but we have made it difficult for ourselves," said coach Attila Supka. "With better concentration we could have won." "We definitely don't want a goalless draw in the home game," added playmaker Zsolt Bárányos, who rejoined the club this summer after a seven-year absence. “We want to beat Nistru this time. In the away game we felt we were the better team and we want to prove it to our fans.”
Things are looking up at Honvéd. Hungarian Cup winners in 2006/07, after wins in their opening two games of the season they share top billing in the league with MTK Budapest and reigning champions Debreceni VSC, and the involvement of Hemingway has left them with a financial backing the envy of most of their local rivals.
"The owner has provided us with foundations not seen at many other clubs in terms of the infrastructure, financial background and the quality of the players we have signed," said Supka. Summer arrivals include Bárányos and forward Mihály Tóth, while 21-year-old Ivorian striker Abraham Guie-Guie Gneki, signed last season, has scored twice in three games this campaign.
Wind of change
Supka said of his side: "Team spirit is our main strength. Everyone does whatever he can and the players know what they have to do. We can still improve." Certainly, Honvéd have a long way to go if they are ever to emulate the Magical Magyars of days gone by, but with the fences coming down, a wind of change is blowing through the Bozsik Stadium.