A Hungarian Revolution

1961 – Around the World and Close to Home

Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in outer space, the Berlin Wall closes the border between democratic West Germany and communist East Germany, and John F. Kennedy, at 43, becomes America’ s youngest president. Later, Kennedy Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver Seattle speeches eight days apart, and elsewhere ground is broken on the Space Needle and the first Burgerville USA opens in Vancouver.

A Hungarian Revolution

Sunday afternoons at Seattle's Woodland Park had always been thick with a stew of western European accents and the sight of a fast, physical and direct style of soccer. Yet as a new decade dawned, a decidedly different and far more powerful brand broke free of the pack. The Hungarian revolution and arrived in full force in Washington.

Three [check] years after entering the state's first division, the Seattle Hungarians began to hit their stride and left the rest of the Northwest in their dust. Funded by Balint Ducz, whose Burien bakery put thousands of pastries on United Airlines flights each day, the Hungarians won the first of their league trophies in early April, then quickly added two more cup victories before May. It was the start of a run that would see out the Sixties.

Unlike many of the Germans, Irish, British, Italian and Scandinavian men of the state's first division who had come to postwar Seattle seeking opportunity to work in aircraft-related industries, the Hungarians were largely refugees. Les Fabri and Mike Kuczi were soldiers who saw their country overrun by Russian army and tanks in the 1956 uprising. They, along with the likes of Les Muller and Lou Vitez, were among the 9 million fleeing the Communists, first into neighboring countries such as Austria and eventually North America. Vitez and Muller came directly to Seattle, Fabri and Kuczi via Vancouver.

At the time of the revolution, Hungary's national team and Budapest Honvéd were regarded as world soccer royalty. The Mighty Magyars won the 1952 Olympic tournament and were runners-up in the '54 World Cup. Honvéd was in the middle of the European Cup play when the revolution was crushed, and many of the players refused to return home, instead finding safe haven in Western Europe.

Across the state, four Hungarian refugees formed the nucleus of the Spokane Spokes of the Western International League. Although those who landed in Seattle were not world-class, several were proven professionals or members of the vaunted Hungarian army selects. In either case, they were the most talented players ever to kick leather around Lower Woodland. In fact, Seattle's soccer playground was among the first stops for the first wave of Hungarian players arriving in late 1956. Soon they were joining up with existing first division sides, however it was not until autumn of 1958 that the Hungarians formed their own club. Once Fabri and Kuczi joined the fold, the pieces had all fallen into place and the trophy hunting began in earnest.

After a second-place showing in the league's first half, the Magyars ran amuck. Displaying an audacious attack and deadly finishing, they averaged more than six goals per game in the second half, going 7-0-1. Loyal Realty managed to battle the Hungarians on even terms for 120 minutes of the final, forcing a replay. But the Hungarians won that and the knockout cup the following week before brushing aside Portland's German Club, 5-3, for supremacy in the Northwest.

Northwest Champion
Seattle Hungarians 5:3 German Club (Ore.)
State Men's Champion
Seattle Hungarians 2:1 Loyalty Realty
State Knockout Cup
Seattle Hungarians 5:2 Husky SC
Largest Attendance
2,000, Seattle All-Stars v Third Lanark, Memorial Stadium

1961: A Hungarian Revolution

Five years after they were forced to flee their home country due to the Soviets' crushing their revolution, a talented cast of Hungarians became the dominant side in the Northwest

Scots Rout Locals
June 4, 1961

Scotland's touring premier side Third Lanark is merciless in humbling the Seattle All-Stars, 9-0, before 2,000 at Memorial Stadium.

Huskies Win Apple Cup
May 21, 1961

Ivo Ceschi's brace is the difference as the University of Washington club beats Washington State counterparts, 3-1, at Pullman. The Huskies swept their eastern trip, having also won at Whitworth, 3-1.

Muller A Rising Star
March 1, 1961

Hungarians forward Les Mueller, 18, stars in sports seemingly year-round in Seattle. When he's not scoring in the state league on Sundays, the Budapest-born fullback and linebacker is a football force at Ballard High School. Nicknamed Crash and Carry, Muller leads the Beavers to the Metro League championship game on Thanksgiving Day, witnessed by 12,000 fans.

Canadians Take Cascadia Duel
February 19, 1961

Molson's Canadians defeat defending state champion Loyal Realty, 4-2, before 5,000 at Vancouver's Powell Street Grounds.

St. George's Makes It 3 of 4
November 18, 1961

Beacon Hill's St. George's wins its third CYO Cadet crown in four years, defeating St. Anne's, 4-1, at West Seattle Stadium. It completes a city sweep for St. George's, who also won the midget title.

Hungarian Spoken in Spokane
March 1, 1961

The Spokane Spokes of the Western International Soccer League feature four Hungarians who fought in their country's 1956 revolution.

BC Youth Reign in Cascadia
November 26, 1961

Vancouver's North Shore All-Stars defeat Seattle CYO All-Stars, 3-1 (4-2 aggregate), at West Seattle Stadium to retain the Oldershaw Trophy. It's the Canadians' ninth win in 10 years of the series.

Hungarians Claim 1st Title
April 9, 1961

In a replay of the state league final, second-half winner Seattle Hungarians edge defending champion Loyal Realty, 2-1, at West Seattle Stadium. It marks the first state league title for the Magyars. The teams tied, 2-2, two weeks earlier.

Eastside Starters
March 1, 1961

Jack Goldingay, a relocated British Columbian, starts the Eastside's first youth program through the Bellevue Boy Club. By 1962, it had grown to more than 300 players.

Hungarians Achieve Treble
April 30, 1961

Leaving no doubt virtually from the opening kick, Seattle Hungarians put four goals past Portland's German Club without reply and go on to claim the Northwest Championship, 5-3, at Catholic Memorial Field. It is the third trophy for the Hungarians. It's the ninth straight win for a Washington side in the annual Cascadia season-ending derby.

Magyars Clinch Double
April 23, 1961

Seattle Hungarians defeat Husky Soccer Club in Knockout Cup final at West Seattle, 5-2, to retain the trophy.

Victoria Victorious
May 20, 1961

Les Mueller scores for the Seattle All-Stars but they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Victoria All-Stars before 1,800 fans at Royal Athletic Park

Kuczi, Fabri Run Wild
September 24, 1961

Mike Kuczi scores four goals and Les Fabri three as the Hungarians rout Loyal Realty Vikings, 8-2, in the state knockout final at Lower Woodland. The first half of league play begins the following week.

St. George's Tops Among Midgets
November 12, 1961

St. George wins the CYO Midget Division, 3-2, over St. Francis.

I would like to have a scholarship to college. I prefer the University of Washington. But if that doesn't happen I will probably try professional soccer in Europe or South America.
Les Muller, Ballard High School football and Seattle Hungarians star
This is the best side in our state in 10 years.
Eddie Craggs, National Soccer Hall of Fame member, after seeing the Seattle Hungarians win its first two matches by a combined 11-1 score
On this Day in History
September 27, 2001
FieldTurf is approved as the field surface for the new stadium being built on the former Kingdome site. Scheduled to open in August 2002, the stadium will be home to the NFL Seahawks and a wide range of soccer events. But the Board of Directors of the Washington State Public Stadium Authority, which owns the facility, approves FieldTurf only after receiving commitments that temporary natural grass will be installed for major soccer events. First & Goal will pay for the installation of temporary natural grass. Further, if a natural grass field is required to attract a Major League Soccer franchise to Seattle, First & Goal will permanently replace the FieldTurf with natural grass. Board members noted that state voters approved the $430 million financing plan for the stadium on the condition that it host both football and soccer, and reminded that they are committed to a project that considers the needs of both sports.
More from 2001 ›
June 27, 2001
Kurt Ness's golden goal lifts Seattle Sounders Selects to a 3-2 shocker over the host Dallas Burn of Major League Soccer in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup in Duncanville, Texas. Ness, a 75th minute substitute, scores in the sixth minute of extra time when his shot deflects past the Dallas keeper. Greg Foisie (45') and Zach Kingsley (61') twice gave Seattle the lead in regulation. Billy Sleeth assists on both and makes a long run to set up the third. Carlos Castellanos makes six saves in the second half. The Selects are the only PDL or D3 Pro side to reach the third round.
More from 2001 ›
October 20, 2019
A stoppage-time goal from Ifeoma Onumonu momentarily gives Reign FC visions of a monumental playoff upset before top-seed North Carolina restores order and wins, 4-1, in extra time. Onumonu comes in as a substitute in the 79th minute and gets the equalizer three minutes into stoppage time. Debinha's free kick in the 99th minute restores the Courage lead. in the second overtime period, Reign hopes are dashed with an own goal and a Crystal Dunn score coming less than two minutes apart. North Carolina, undefeated at home, proceeds to win the NWSL title a week later, 4-0 over Chicago.
More from 2019 ›
November 30, 2014
Brad Evans and Clint Dempsey score as Seattle wins the second leg of the Western Conference Championship, 2-1, but falls on away goals to the LA Galaxy in front of a franchise postseason record crowd of 46,758. Juninho scores the decisive goal for the away side. Sounders FC went up 1-0 in the 26th minute through Evans. Six minutes later, Dempsey, scores his 17th across all competitions. The Galaxy now hosts New England in MLS Cup.
More from 2014 ›