Reviving a Budapest legend
When four lads teamed up to take over a sacred football bar in Budapest, they knew what the score was. Steeped in soccer legend, the 6:3 echoes the most famous match in Hungarian sport, one that took place in 1953 and starred the bar’s former owner, Nándor Hidegkuti. This Sunday, it should provide the perfect ambience to watch Hungary take on World Cup finalists Croatia.
November 25th comes around like Christmas. Every year, on the anniversary of the match that changed football forever, a gathering congregates in the 6:3 bar to commemorate its significance and watch the match on a video loop. Candles are lit as György Szepesi’s original heart-in-the-mouth radio commentary describes a Hungarian victory like no other.
Urban legend has it that somewhere in Budapest on that November day back in 1953 a balcony collapsed, so passionate was the gathering around a radio set – though it would have been as freezing behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary as it was foggy in post-war London where the game took place.
But the most recent gathering here in 2018 saw a slight change to the ritual. With the bar under the new ownership of a foursome of long-term expats and nearby residents, the 6:3 has been given a new lease of life. Relaunched on the 55th anniversary of 6:3 by two North Americans and two football fans from the UK, this cosy nook just off the Grand Boulevard will respect history while appealing to a broader clientele.
Without changing the bar prices – it’s still well under €2 for a korsó of beer – the quartet now offer meat and cheese platters, and host regular events such as Burns Night in January. They’ve even got a dartboard.
But football remains the focus. By coincidence, the uncle-in-law of one of the new owners played on the same team as the great Ferenc Puskás, and also fled to play in Spain after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. Another co-owner is a passionate collector of Puskás memorabilia and has augmented the original décor with souvenirs a-plenty.
Alongside the framed portrait of Hidegkuti and special edition of Esti Budapest from the day of the game, on display here for decades, a match programme from 1953 and several new photos, some autographed, embellish the freshly repainted interior to create a Wall of Honour. The TV is flat-screen and not 1970s’ vintage and some lucky soul (grrrr!) has the jukebox that used to stand in the corner.
In a city where sports bars are ten-a-penny, the 6:3 offers that priceless element: authenticity. Here, Puskás really did hold court and his teammates raised glasses.
Where better, then, to see if Hungary can qualify for the first major football finals the country will be hosting, Euro 2020, when they play Croatia this Sunday night at 6pm?
District IX. Lónyay utca 62
Open: Mon-Fri 2pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 2pm-11pm