Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for the ‘football’ Category

Sporting update

Posted by Andy Hockley on 5 May, 2008

A couple of pieces of sporting news to report today.

Most relevant to Csikszereda is the news that Steaua Bucharest ice hockey team (not to be confused with the football team of the same name – they are not linked as far as I can tell) has decided to next year play in the Hungarian league. The invitation to participate in that league has been open ever since Sport Cloub from here decided to join it two years ago, but Steaua previously decided not to go down that route. Having watched the Romanian league title be contested by the two Csikszereda teams (Sport Club and Hochei Club) this year, squeezing Steaua out of the championship game for the first time since the 50s, they have obviously realised that the only way to stay competitive is to be in Hungary as well. I think it’s good in many ways that they have decided to do this – partly because if it were just the “Hungarian” teams from Romania that took part it would all look a bit nationalistic, partly because I think the more competitive the league the better, and partly because I just don’t think it can do any harm to have what will essentially become a Hungary-Romania league in a sport (there will be 4 Romanian teams and 7 Hungarian teams in this league next year)

More intriguing from an external perspective is the ongoing saga of the football league. This is going down to the wire with the last games being played on Wednesday this week. The last time I wrote about football here, CFR Cluj were well ahead but I feared a comeback by Steaua, which duly came to pass, thanks partly to some wobbling by CFR and some very suspiciously dodgy decisions and moments in Steaua’s games (including one game against Rapid in which they were 1-0 down, but the ref called off the match gifting Steaua a 3-0 win). A good summary is here from Jonathan Wilson in the Guardian.

Anyway, last night, Dinamo beat Steaua 2-1 to leave CFR one point clear at the top. They only need to win their last game to take the title. It’s just that this last game is against city rivals U Cluj. And U Cluj’s fans hate CFR passionately. And while U are already relegated, I assume the players will do their utmost to knock CFR off so that they can give something back to the fans who’ve watched them through a very bad season. And who knows what pressures the ref will have come under.

If Becali, the most vile man in Romania, gets his way and Steaua win the league, I’m giving up on football in this country. It’s corrupt beyond belief. So come on CFR. Please.

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Posted in football, ice hockey | 3 Comments »

A different perspective on CFR

Posted by Andy Hockley on 10 March, 2008

Actually this has nothing to with my previous post on CFR.

Every now and again I feel compelled by some strange force of habit/cultural upbringing/personal interest to make a post about football. This is one of them (though it does have a bit of politics thrown in), so if you are football-averse or even football-uninterested, feel free to stop reading now and go and do something more productive with your time.

This season’s Romanian football championship has become a vector for nationalist sentiment thanks, in the main, to the patron of Steaua – arch scumbag Gigi Becali. This is because the league is being led by CFR Cluj who threaten to take the title away from Bucharest for the first time in 14 years and away from Wallachia for the first time in about 40 years. You can read some of the background to this story in this pdf file of an article in the February edition of When Saturday Comes magazine (you may recognise the writing style of the author of that piece)

Anyway, the nationalist rhetoric I mentioned there has not abated, with Becali and his odious kin ( a couple of cousins are also involved with football in various shady-ish ways) carrying on about stopping the Dirty Hungarians from winning the title. These would be the dirty Hungarians of CFR Cluj, a squad made up of (at the current time) 5 Argentinians, 2 Brazilians, 1 Canadian, 1 Frenchman, 1 Nigerian, 7 Portuguese, 7 Romanians (all of whom are ethnically Romanian), and 2 Swedes. Though maybe a club calling themselves CFR 1907 Cluj (which is the full name) is subtly (perhaps) highlighting the fact that they weren’t born in Romania. It’s a bit of a stretch though.

Anyway, at the start of the season I didn’t have much of an opinion about who I wanted to win the league (other than knowing I didn’t want Steaua to win it purely because of Becali, who is quite possibly the vilest, most repulsive man in Romania, and having a soft spot for Unirea Urziceni because they are coached by former Sheffield Wedenesday player Dan Petrescu). Now, after the waves of anti-Hungarian rehtoric launched by Becali and co, I am firmly behind CFR and hope they win the title by a street (and that Steaua don’t even finish second and get a Champions League spot).

Current standings (22 games played out of 34)
CFR Cluj 52 points
Rapid Bucharest 44
Steaua 44
Poli Timisoara 42
Unirea Urziceni 41
Dinamo Bucharest 39

Haide CFR! (By which I mean the team, not the railway, though I would like that to improve too)

Posted in football | 2 Comments »

Most famous Hungarian dies

Posted by Andy Hockley on 17 November, 2006

RIP Puskás Ferenc. To most non-Hungarians I know, Puskás was almost synonymous with the nation, and for most outsiders (from footballing nations – ie most of them) he would be the first person they would mention if asked to name a famous Hungarian.

Nothing much more to add. Here’s his Wiki-entry

Posted in football, news | 1 Comment »

Most famous Hungarian dies

Posted by Andy Hockley on 17 November, 2006

RIP Puskás Ferenc. To most non-Hungarians I know, Puskás was almost synonymous with the nation, and for most outsiders (from footballing nations – ie most of them) he would be the first person they would mention if asked to name a famous Hungarian.

Nothing much more to add. Here’s his Wiki-entry

Posted in football, news | 1 Comment »

Star Wars

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 October, 2006

On Sunday night Real Madrid arrived at Otopeni airport. This event was trumpeted like they were …well, I was going to say royalty, but if it had been Juan Carlos showing up, for example, there would have been much less fanfare. Like gods maybe. The TV stations all had someone stationed in the presidential lounge of the airport where the team would appear (why in the presidential lounge I have no idea, why they couldn’t come through passport control and customs and baggage reclaim like the rest of us is beyond me, but you know these are overpaid and overhyped celebrities we’re talking about), and the sports sections of all the Sunday evening news shows were all taken up with exciting trivia such as whether Posh Spice would be on the plane and what exact route the bus was likely to take from Otopeni to the Marriot Hotel. Two stations even elected to cover the arrival and subsequent bus journey live in all its detail. Really, I swear I’m not making any of this up.

The excitement continued to build on Monday with press conferences being covered in full, training ground action and various sundry bits of information. Then yesterday came the reason that this exalted bunch had deigned to touch down on Romanian soil and bless us all with their presence. The match against Steaua. [“Star Wars” as one channel oh so cleverly billed it – you see Madrid are all stars and Steaua means star. Oh ho.] Sadly, for Romanian football fans, many of whom had travelled across the country to watch this game, and who had played vast amounts for a ticket, Steaua had seemingly been watching too much awestruck breathless TV coverage themselves, and they too seemed to feel unworthy of being on the same pitch as the wealthy has-beens from the Bernabeu, capitulating miserably and losing 4-1.

Still, the upside of that result is that we won’t have to endure weeks of Gigi Becali crowing on TV with the compliant Romanian media hanging on his every word. Even more pleasingly the killer third goal was scored by black Brazilian forward Robinho, thus being one in the eye for the bigot Becali and the racists who seem to make up a reasonable proportion of Steaua’s fan base.

I have to say that the fawning arselicking of the Real team and their presence in Romania did the nation as a whole no favours. They’re not messiahs, they’re just overrated footballers. Steaua deserved to be in the Champions League group stages (much as it pains me to say it), and Romania is just as much part of Europe as anywhere else. This media-led prostration at their feet is pathetic. It’s at times like these when I feel an understanding of those who can’t stand football.

Posted in football | 3 Comments »

Star Wars

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 October, 2006

On Sunday night Real Madrid arrived at Otopeni airport. This event was trumpeted like they were …well, I was going to say royalty, but if it had been Juan Carlos showing up, for example, there would have been much less fanfare. Like gods maybe. The TV stations all had someone stationed in the presidential lounge of the airport where the team would appear (why in the presidential lounge I have no idea, why they couldn’t come through passport control and customs and baggage reclaim like the rest of us is beyond me, but you know these are overpaid and overhyped celebrities we’re talking about), and the sports sections of all the Sunday evening news shows were all taken up with exciting trivia such as whether Posh Spice would be on the plane and what exact route the bus was likely to take from Otopeni to the Marriot Hotel. Two stations even elected to cover the arrival and subsequent bus journey live in all its detail. Really, I swear I’m not making any of this up.

The excitement continued to build on Monday with press conferences being covered in full, training ground action and various sundry bits of information. Then yesterday came the reason that this exalted bunch had deigned to touch down on Romanian soil and bless us all with their presence. The match against Steaua. [“Star Wars” as one channel oh so cleverly billed it – you see Madrid are all stars and Steaua means star. Oh ho.] Sadly, for Romanian football fans, many of whom had travelled across the country to watch this game, and who had played vast amounts for a ticket, Steaua had seemingly been watching too much awestruck breathless TV coverage themselves, and they too seemed to feel unworthy of being on the same pitch as the wealthy has-beens from the Bernabeu, capitulating miserably and losing 4-1.

Still, the upside of that result is that we won’t have to endure weeks of Gigi Becali crowing on TV with the compliant Romanian media hanging on his every word. Even more pleasingly the killer third goal was scored by black Brazilian forward Robinho, thus being one in the eye for the bigot Becali and the racists who seem to make up a reasonable proportion of Steaua’s fan base.

I have to say that the fawning arselicking of the Real team and their presence in Romania did the nation as a whole no favours. They’re not messiahs, they’re just overrated footballers. Steaua deserved to be in the Champions League group stages (much as it pains me to say it), and Romania is just as much part of Europe as anywhere else. This media-led prostration at their feet is pathetic. It’s at times like these when I feel an understanding of those who can’t stand football.

Posted in football | 3 Comments »

World Cup Fever

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 June, 2006

The first ever blog I did, before I even knew there was such a thing as a blog, or even that such a word existed (and in truth, it may not have existed at that time) was in 1998. It was called something like “Ramblings of a disenfranchised football fan”, and it recounted the amusing(ish) details of my life as a football fan living in the Federated States of Micronesia, attempting to follow the 1998 World Cup, which was not televised in that country (almost uniquely I was led to believe). I suspect it has vanihsed into the periodic clean-ups of a server somewhere (it was on Geocities before Geocities was bought up by Yahoo). I certainly can’t find it via any search engine.

Now, however, eight years later, I live in a country that televises every game and which does so in a very convenient time zone for TV-based match watching. And hence World Cup fever has come to our living room. Sadly there is no Romania or Hungary to cheer on, so we have to make do with spotting players with Hungarian names (yesterday’s red-carded Czech defender Ujfalusi being the most obvious). The World Cup for me is all about cheering on good football and hoping that the team playing the best football wins. Hence, I am not really that patriotic, since the last time England played good football in the finals of a major championship was ten years ago now, and even then it was only one match. So far, honours in the “great football” stake have been taken by Argentina and Spain, and long may they continue to prosper (Spain will, of course, get no further that the quarter finals, because they never do).

I’ll spare you all my commentary on every game, since you can read such things in about a billion other places on the Internet, but I may just pop on from time to time to rave about a performance or criticise a ref (such as the horribly biased one who handed Holland an undeserved win over the Ivory Coast). I have learned, though, through the miracle of football, that Cote D’Ivoire is “Elefántcsontpart in Hungarian, which translates, I believe, as “Elephant bone coast”. Either the Hungarians took the bits that were left after the other European countries had taken all the ivory, or there is a serious misunderstanding as to what ivory actually is.

Posted in football | 3 Comments »

World Cup Fever

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 June, 2006

The first ever blog I did, before I even knew there was such a thing as a blog, or even that such a word existed (and in truth, it may not have existed at that time) was in 1998. It was called something like “Ramblings of a disenfranchised football fan”, and it recounted the amusing(ish) details of my life as a football fan living in the Federated States of Micronesia, attempting to follow the 1998 World Cup, which was not televised in that country (almost uniquely I was led to believe). I suspect it has vanihsed into the periodic clean-ups of a server somewhere (it was on Geocities before Geocities was bought up by Yahoo). I certainly can’t find it via any search engine.

Now, however, eight years later, I live in a country that televises every game and which does so in a very convenient time zone for TV-based match watching. And hence World Cup fever has come to our living room. Sadly there is no Romania or Hungary to cheer on, so we have to make do with spotting players with Hungarian names (yesterday’s red-carded Czech defender Ujfalusi being the most obvious). The World Cup for me is all about cheering on good football and hoping that the team playing the best football wins. Hence, I am not really that patriotic, since the last time England played good football in the finals of a major championship was ten years ago now, and even then it was only one match. So far, honours in the “great football” stake have been taken by Argentina and Spain, and long may they continue to prosper (Spain will, of course, get no further that the quarter finals, because they never do).

I’ll spare you all my commentary on every game, since you can read such things in about a billion other places on the Internet, but I may just pop on from time to time to rave about a performance or criticise a ref (such as the horribly biased one who handed Holland an undeserved win over the Ivory Coast). I have learned, though, through the miracle of football, that Cote D’Ivoire is “Elefántcsontpart in Hungarian, which translates, I believe, as “Elephant bone coast”. Either the Hungarians took the bits that were left after the other European countries had taken all the ivory, or there is a serious misunderstanding as to what ivory actually is.

Posted in football | 3 Comments »

Nasal Octopus

Posted by Andy Hockley on 28 April, 2006

This has been a bad couple of weeks healthwise. Bogi came down with mumps (conveniently “mumpsz” in Hungarian) while I was away. This weekend, having sat out the requisite two weeks at home we noticed that she was not hearing very well. A visit to the ENT doctor on Monday confirmed that there was a problem – that she had a large octopus in her nose. So yesterday she went to have it surgically removed (obviously having an octopus in your nose is not especially healthy nor does it make it easy to breathe). All is well now, though and there are no more octopi or any other form of squid or cuttlefish clogging up her nasal passages as far as we know.

OK, OK, it wasn’t actually an octopus. It was a polyp. However, the Hungarian word for octopus and the Hungarian word for polyp are one and the same (polip). So, like a true dad I have been amusing myself all week referring to it as an octopus. In my defence, it has made her laugh too, and helped her reach the operation with at least a couple of laughs to punctuate the pervading sense of fear.

She now has some spots which may or may not be the onset of rubella, another childhood disease which is also very popular at the moment in Csikszereda. Rubella when I was growing up was the best disease going – a week off school with no ill effects barring a couple of non-irritating spots. Of course in those days rubella was called German Measles for reasons I’m not sure of. Was it like Spanish flu in that it seemingly originated in Germany? Or were there more xenophobic reasons? Perhaps it was seen as very efficient form of measles – in and out in a few days without causing much fuss. Who knows? In other etymology-of-spotty-childhood-illnesses, chicken pox may be so called because it’s like a rubbish version of small pox (see also “chicken feed”) or because the spots look like chick peas. Not like any chick peas I’ve ever eaten, I have to say.

To top that off, I have a raging flu, though not of the avian variety. (Although I learned recently that all strains of flu originated in birds). Still, such is life.

Falling Star

Last night, contrary to my usual form, I found myself cheering on an English club in European competition (It’s not unheard of, but it’s fairly rare. I certainly won’t be doing it in the upcoming Champion’s League final). This is because of my overriding hatred of Steaua – and especially Gigi Becali. However, I had been slightly swept up by the seeming unitedness of the nation behind them (though this may have been a media invention) and thought it might be nice if they got to the final (and then got humiliatingly thrashed).

At half past ten Romania time last night, the game was all over. Steaua were three nil up on aggregate (effectively 3½-0 up because they had scored away goals) and there was only an hour left to play. At half time, even though Middlesboro had pulled one back, there was actually a discussion of the possibility that Steaua would get to play Barcelona in the European Super Cup final, and so relive the EC final of 1986. I thought that it was a bit premature, though I did assume that they would at least get to the UEFA Cup final.

The rest, as they say, is history. A stunning fightback by Middlesboro (for the second time in two rounds), and Steaua crashed out at the death, beaten 4-2 on the night. I was happy and still buzzing from seeing such an incredible game of football. But then as I flicked round the TV channels, the shock and dismay of everyone told its own story. This was a match that a lot of Romania wanted Steaua to win so they could represent the nation on a European stage. I don’t really understand that level of national feeling for a club side (I’ll be very very happy if both Arsenal and Middlesboro lose the two finals to come), but I could see that it was there. I’m sure there were hardcore Dinamo and Rapid fans who were happy that Steaua had lost, but most of the country it seems was shell shocked. I started feeling sorry for those Romanians who had willed the team on and seen them crash out in such unbelievable circumstances, so close to the finish line. As channel after channel wheeled their best pundits on to try and make sense of this national calamity, I began to wish that Steaua had indeed clung on to get to the final.

Then one channel cut to live footage of Gigi Becali leaving the stadium. He was so gaunt, so haggard, so white, and for the first time ever didn’t look like he was enjoying being on TV, and in fact remained tight lipped and silent. He looked utterly broken and almost like he was about to burst into tears. At that point my heart lifted and my spirit soared and I remembered why I wanted Middlesboro to win in the first place. Grazie mille, Maccarone.

Sorry Romania – you deserve to have something to cheer, but not led by that cretinous oaf. Rapid in the final? Now that would have really been great.

Posted in football, health, language | 4 Comments »

Nasal Octopus

Posted by Andy Hockley on 28 April, 2006

This has been a bad couple of weeks healthwise. Bogi came down with mumps (conveniently “mumpsz” in Hungarian) while I was away. This weekend, having sat out the requisite two weeks at home we noticed that she was not hearing very well. A visit to the ENT doctor on Monday confirmed that there was a problem – that she had a large octopus in her nose. So yesterday she went to have it surgically removed (obviously having an octopus in your nose is not especially healthy nor does it make it easy to breathe). All is well now, though and there are no more octopi or any other form of squid or cuttlefish clogging up her nasal passages as far as we know.

OK, OK, it wasn’t actually an octopus. It was a polyp. However, the Hungarian word for octopus and the Hungarian word for polyp are one and the same (polip). So, like a true dad I have been amusing myself all week referring to it as an octopus. In my defence, it has made her laugh too, and helped her reach the operation with at least a couple of laughs to punctuate the pervading sense of fear.

She now has some spots which may or may not be the onset of rubella, another childhood disease which is also very popular at the moment in Csikszereda. Rubella when I was growing up was the best disease going – a week off school with no ill effects barring a couple of non-irritating spots. Of course in those days rubella was called German Measles for reasons I’m not sure of. Was it like Spanish flu in that it seemingly originated in Germany? Or were there more xenophobic reasons? Perhaps it was seen as very efficient form of measles – in and out in a few days without causing much fuss. Who knows? In other etymology-of-spotty-childhood-illnesses, chicken pox may be so called because it’s like a rubbish version of small pox (see also “chicken feed”) or because the spots look like chick peas. Not like any chick peas I’ve ever eaten, I have to say.

To top that off, I have a raging flu, though not of the avian variety. (Although I learned recently that all strains of flu originated in birds). Still, such is life.

Falling Star

Last night, contrary to my usual form, I found myself cheering on an English club in European competition (It’s not unheard of, but it’s fairly rare. I certainly won’t be doing it in the upcoming Champion’s League final). This is because of my overriding hatred of Steaua – and especially Gigi Becali. However, I had been slightly swept up by the seeming unitedness of the nation behind them (though this may have been a media invention) and thought it might be nice if they got to the final (and then got humiliatingly thrashed).

At half past ten Romania time last night, the game was all over. Steaua were three nil up on aggregate (effectively 3½-0 up because they had scored away goals) and there was only an hour left to play. At half time, even though Middlesboro had pulled one back, there was actually a discussion of the possibility that Steaua would get to play Barcelona in the European Super Cup final, and so relive the EC final of 1986. I thought that it was a bit premature, though I did assume that they would at least get to the UEFA Cup final.

The rest, as they say, is history. A stunning fightback by Middlesboro (for the second time in two rounds), and Steaua crashed out at the death, beaten 4-2 on the night. I was happy and still buzzing from seeing such an incredible game of football. But then as I flicked round the TV channels, the shock and dismay of everyone told its own story. This was a match that a lot of Romania wanted Steaua to win so they could represent the nation on a European stage. I don’t really understand that level of national feeling for a club side (I’ll be very very happy if both Arsenal and Middlesboro lose the two finals to come), but I could see that it was there. I’m sure there were hardcore Dinamo and Rapid fans who were happy that Steaua had lost, but most of the country it seems was shell shocked. I started feeling sorry for those Romanians who had willed the team on and seen them crash out in such unbelievable circumstances, so close to the finish line. As channel after channel wheeled their best pundits on to try and make sense of this national calamity, I began to wish that Steaua had indeed clung on to get to the final.

Then one channel cut to live footage of Gigi Becali leaving the stadium. He was so gaunt, so haggard, so white, and for the first time ever didn’t look like he was enjoying being on TV, and in fact remained tight lipped and silent. He looked utterly broken and almost like he was about to burst into tears. At that point my heart lifted and my spirit soared and I remembered why I wanted Middlesboro to win in the first place. Grazie mille, Maccarone.

Sorry Romania – you deserve to have something to cheer, but not led by that cretinous oaf. Rapid in the final? Now that would have really been great.

Posted in football, health, language | 4 Comments »