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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

History in the Players' Tunnel that is no more - Updated with additional clue(s)

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

KesterTester99 - You don't need to be a football fan to sleuth this (though it could help)

Photo: Scene in the tunnel through which players passed from the dressing rooms to the pitch. The middle photo depicts a European Cup Winners' Cup game against a London-based soccer club, which the home team won 1-0. My pic taken mid-2010s.

This tester is rather a sad tale of alleged intrigue and likely corrupt goings-on in the upper echelons of this former communist country's football league. As far as I can make out, the club, at least in this final legal entity, was ultimately put out of its economic misery in 2021, although a so-called phoenix club with a similar name, created by passionate supporters, is alive and well.

Furthermore, the stadium (one of the biggest in the country) is scheduled for demolition and a total rebuild, indeed the process may well have begun, so these historic photos have, hopefully, been carefully stored and protected.

The club, based in one the country's most important (and today, most vibrant) cities, had something of a yo-yo history in the top two divisions. Though never winning the Division 1 championship, it made runners up in 2008-9 and 2010-11. The club won the national cup twice. (Giving you the exact years might make this tester too easy, at least for footie fans.)

Super sleuths could get it from the clues above, but I suspect I shall have to give some more clues next week. (I think I have a good one for non-football fans.)

I am pondering adding extra clues to KT98, last week's tester.

Have a good weekend. If you are in Budapest, remember the Pontiff is on an official visit and roads will be closed at times, especially the airport clearway late on Sunday afternoon.

UPDATE: Additional Clue(s)

Additional clues are hard to find, given that some sleuthers jump to google at the drop of a hat. (I know that's not cheating, but it kind of makes giving certain clues a giveaway, so I try to avoid doing that. )

So, it's difficult to shed light on this. However, I can say this city lays claim to a couple of 'firsts' - not global firsts (as far as I can make out), but national/regional firsts - still, I can't say which ones because, well, see my previous sentence :) But perhaps most interestingly, certainly surprisingly to me, my research revealed that this city was the capital of its country for some years in the dim and distant past. Obviously, I can't say anymore on that score ... but the funny thing is, nobody seems to say much on this subject today. Hmmmm. Happy sleuthing :)

Well, even some football fans are struggling with this one. Before I put the numbers into the Afghan hat, I'll perhaps tease an answer out by showing (left) a photo of the ground. It doesn't give a lot away, but...

UPDATE: Contestants and the Winner!

Very sorry to take so long over KesterTester99 – too much work and admin issues to deal with.

OK, here we go with the results – and it proved a toughie.

Gary Morrell, good working-class soul and ardent Fradi supporter that he is, tentatively though it might be …. "Diosgyor?" - meaning the Miskolc club, but then complained that the clues were not logical because different teams were runners-up in the seasons cited.

Nobody said it had to be a Hungarian team, Gary! Anyway, Forest stayed up, so Gary is happy for another season.

Alan Sutton pondered a bit and came up with:

Dear Kester

I'll have a stab at Inter Bratislava. I know this club had permanent problems, and that the ground (where I saw England play Slovakia in 2002) has been up for demolition - which is why the last time England played in Slovakia, the match was held in Trnava.. I think it was the capital city hint that suggested that one.

Of course as Pozsony it was the Hungarian capital for a time."

I'm not sure Pozsony was actually the capital, Alan – even if the Hungarian parliament sat there back in the day, but yes, I can see your thinking.

Photo: The friendly groundsman that let me into the stadium one Sunday back in 2015. Let's hope he still has work if he needs it.

Photo: A friendly bunch of supporters in a pub just outside the old ground. From memory, two of these played for the club back in the day, with at least one playing against Celtic in a European competition.

Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann swooped in with:

KT 99 that sounds a lot like FC Politehnica Timișoara, a club that did not survive the turbulent post-Ceaucescu years. Their stadium was renamed after their star player, Dan Păltinișanu, but had become dilapidated to the point of being an embarrassment with lights going off during matches.”

Tom Chilton worked on the football same line, idntifying the top of "West Ham" in the original photograph.

Having eliminated Celtic in the previous round of the Cup-Winners Cup, FC Politehnica Timișoara beat West Ham 1-0 in the first leg before losing 4-0 in London.”

John Cantwell also opted for the Romanian team:

FC Politehnica Timișoara seems to fit the description,” sayeth he.

Photo: A shot from outside the once proud Dan-Paltinisanu ground.

Meanwhile, the day before, across town, the Phoenix club ASU Poli, founded by supporters, played a game in, I think, the Romanian League Division 3.

Photo: Supporters sell tickets for the game - as I remember, the entrance fee requested was EUR 5, but it was a voluntary donation - and more if you could afford it. Perhaps the guy on the right is pondering if he should offer EUR 5 or EUR 10 :)

Photo: ASU Poli 'ultras' having a good time being noisy at the game against Gazde Oaspeti. Alas, ASU Poli lost 0 - 1, if I remember correctly.

And now, for the winning draw!

So yes, just three number into the Afghan hat (EU registration pending) … and the winner is … (I don't know how he can get into and out of his front door because of all his fans)... Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann.

Congratulations Hubert and thanks for all who 'had a go'. Thanks too to the kind fans of ASU Poli who took time to explain the tortured history of the various incarnations of the various Polis over the years. I'm afraid the webmaster of the site that I was taking these photos for never used them, so I spent rather a lot of money in Timișoara for no economic returns, but you did give me a memorable time.

Oh yes, I should say that Timișoara - known by the monarch as Temesvár back then - was the capital of Hungary from 1315 to 1323. (Really! How many of you could honestly say you knew that!) Yes, I know it was rather a long time ago, but I had never read or heard anyone talk about this.

And one other of its claims to fame was to be the first city with street lighting in the Habsburg Empire.

Right - must get down to some more work. Have a good weekend.

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