BAK: a new beginning
A new tournament in Budapest is marking the 70th anniversary of the death in the Superga air disaster of legendary manager Ernő Egri Erbstein. The inaugural Egri Erbstein Tournament will be hosted by the pioneering coach’s first club, Budapesti Atletikai Klub (BAK), reformed last summer by a group of local enthusiasts.
Historic English club Corinthian-Casuals will join BAK and two other historic Budapest amateur clubs – BEAC and Testveriseg – in a four-team tournament to be played over the weekend of June 15-16 at the Szőnyi úti Stadion in Budapest. Budapest was the first European city that the Corinthians visited, back in 1904, at which time they were arguably the best team in the world.
Ahead of the tournament, we documented the stories of BAK and Corinthian-Casuals through the eyes of their players and staff. Peter Csillag is the captain of BAK.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your football life?
I'm Peter Csillag, a 35-year-old journalist working for Nemzeti Sport, the traditional Hungarian sports daily paper. In my work I'm interested in the social, historical and cultural aspects of football, my articles focus on these subjects. I started playing football at the age of 7 for Ferencváros, the most popular Hungarian team, and spent five years there. As I put more emphasis on my studies, I switched to a smaller club, Elektromos, which used to be the team of the electric workers.
As an adult I played in the Hungarian third league for Pénzügyőr and III. Kerület, before I went abroad to London and to Northern Italy to learn languages and see the world. I studied history and communication at university, and I got my degree in 2010. In 2007 I joined an amateur team called Respect FC, with a strong link to journalists. Last year we won the Budapest 4th league (for the second time in our history), and went up to the Budapest 3rd tier. Respect FC was incorporated last summer by the reborn, newly established BAK, a traditional Hungarian team that was dissolved in the 1930s. I am proud to wear the captain’s armband of BAK.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos
The photos were taken in our last friendly game in March and the first match of the season, and also the training of the blind football team. I tried to show the amateur spirit that we try to represent. The football that is close to the everyday people, where we play with our hearts and sacrifice ourselves for the team without any material interest.
What is your favourite photo?
The photo with the strange tower in the background, as it gives the real atmosphere of a Budapest Sunday football match.
Are there any good stories connected with the people or teams you photographed?
BAK always has a special place in our life, so we try to adapt our everyday life to our matches. With Gergely Borsi (Geri) I had a special adventure last year. At the time Geri also worked for the sports daily, and we had a media football tournament in the countryside, far from Budapest. The tournament finished late at night, so we had to sleep there, in Békéscsaba. The next day we had our championship game early in the morning in Budapest, so we had to wake up at dawn to get to the capital, as we had to drive three hours. I got injured in the tournament, so I was only the driver for Geri. We broke all the speed limits to arrive at the pitch; unfortunately we got there only at the beginning of the second half. Geri changed his clothes in the car, he ran out as a substitute, but with not much luck: without him the team was leading by one goal, but in the end we lost 7-6...
Why is the BAK story so unique and important?
It is a privilege to be part of a team that was one of the first participants of Hungarian football, founded in 1900. BAK always had a special spirit, it was called the poor people's MTK: the founders were originally members of MTK, but their intent didn't meet those of the club leaders. So the reformers quit the club, and established BAK (Budapesti Atlétikai Club), a kind of rebel team, which played in the first and the second league of the Hungarian football system until it ceased in the early 1930s. I really like the vision and the profile of a small team that has no money, no big names, no rich sponsors, "only" enthusiasm and tradition.
What role does BAK play in the local community?
The club has become an example of how history and tradition can meet modern amateur football.
What does football mean to you?
The biggest joy life can give. A total freedom, independent of all the social or psychological factors. I would quote Gyula Krúdy, the famous Hungarian writer, saying that it is an "ice bath for the soul."
What is the future for BAK?
We try to find ways to show amateur football values and to find new connections with teams and people on the same path.
Why is the connection with Corinthian Casuals so important for the club?
It is a great honour for us to enjoy the friendship of Corinthian-Casuals, a noble and great representative of English football culture. We really appreciate this valuable link, learn from the special sportsmen of the London club and try to show that we can be somehow the "Hungarian Corinthian".