Difficult for evaluation season in Hungary – on one hand the country qualified for the World Cup finals and had pleasant national team. A group of talented players, some running strong for years like Balint and Fazekas, others just nearing their peak and rapidly getting recognition in Europe – Nyilasi and Torocsik. On the other hand the improvement was slight, the number of quality players limited, and no Hungarian club was truly impressive when really tested – that is, in the European club tournaments. A glance at the final table shows strange fragmentation – 2 clubs competed for the title. Behind them a group of three contested third place. Another segment of 4 clubs belonged to the upper half of the table and bellow them a lower half consisting of 5 clubs. At the bottom 4 clubs tried to escape relegation – one gave up early. Every segment appeared preoccupied with itself and unconcerned with anything else. Practically every club stayed where they usually were – hardly any surprises, except for the sudden slide down of Ferencvaros. Videoton was practically the only club rising – they soared the previous season and now confirmed that they were not one time wonder.
Second Division was any different – the 20-team league had its group of clubs meandering up and down and they were the likeliest favourites: Dorog, Komlo, Debrecen, Salgotarjan, Bekescsaba. The rest was insignificant. If anything, the second division was telling one unusual thing: big concentration of clubs belonging to one city in the top levels of national football – Budapest had 6 clubs in first division plus another 5 in the second. Of course the difference between Vasas and Volan SC was great, but at least in Eastern Europe there was no other country with so many clubs from the capital in the two top tiers. Apart from England, and to a point Greece and Turkey, there was no such concentration in Western Europe too. Anyhow, the bulk of the league was not really up to a serious task. Three clubs competed for two promotional spots. Debrecen finished third, losing the race by a point. Above them finished a strange club – Vasas Izzo.
Their logo gives 1899 as year of foundation, but the club is quite a mystery – names were changed frequently as well as the location. Technically, a Budapest club – at least in 1977-78. Not to be confused with the other Vasas of the same city: this one was entirely unrelated club. Hardly known, moved from one industrial ‘sponsor’ to another, amalgamated now and then with other clubs, but never successful. Occasionally appearing in first division, never staying long enough to get notice. This season they got ambitious – either that, or had some money – and finished second.
About the squad hardly anything can be said – as a Budapest club, very likely they had some aging players, arriving from better clubs. Some names sound faintly familiar, but those are also very common Hungarian names – could be just familiar names, but not the same players known from elsewhere. But the fate of small clubs is similar everywhere – whatever talent emerges is quickly scooped by the bigger clubs and old and tired veterans arrive to play their last season or two. A strong team cannot be built this way. Promotion, however, was possible now and then – and this season Vasas Izzo had a squad good enough for that.
The champions finished with 56 points – 2 more than Vasas Izzo. Their name is mouthful and confusing. Confusing, because it is often abbreviated to STC. The full name is Salgotarjani Torna Club, but it is popularly written either STC or Salgotarjan. As many Hungarian clubs the name was changed often… so it was STC this year, but on the logo it is different.
So, let’s stick to ‘Salgotarjan’ for now – a club,which often played in first division, hence, eager to return. They managed to do that. Not a overwhelming winners, yet, the strongest – best attack, second best defense, most wins, only 5 matches lost. Stable, competent.
Salgotarjan also had some descent players, particularly Szoo, whose presence explains why they won, but does not explain why the club sunk to second division. Well, not anymore… at least not the next season.
The newly promoted were not exactly strong – they were most likely just to try to survive in the near future and Vasas Izzo in particular. Joy was to be momentous.