Lights, Camera, Redemption: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Budapest Honved 1954

Who? – Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club

What? – Exhibition Match (Leading to creation of Champions League)

Where? – Wolverhampton, West Midlands, U.K. and showed on BBC1

When? – 13th December 1954

How? – With England still recovering from the footballing lesson Hungary offered in 1953 in a 6-3 rout at Wembley, English Champions Wolverhampton Wanderers were top spot once again during the 1954 season when a number of exhibition matches attracted crowds to games under new £30,000 floodlights at Molineux. Having defeated several European opposition sides, Budapest Honved, a club to feature several of the Hungarian runner-up team members including Ferenc Puskás were set to return to England again in an exhibition match.

Having been 2-0 down at half time through ‘delightful football’, it was requested by Wolves boss Stan Cullis to Ron Atkinson to heavily water the pitch, making it very difficult for the Hungarian side to play their style and in turn Wolves ran away 3-2 winners having played a more conventional and direct long ball style which forced a penalty and headed goals late on, a time which Wolves often scored goals against other European opposition.

The win was hailed as a huge moment in European footballing history as Wolverhampton Wanderers were hailed as champions of the world. The match touted key talks in creation of an continental tournament for the best teams from each country to compete each year, now commonly known as the UEFA Champions League, which is arguably now the biggest domestic competition in world football.

Team Line-ups:

Bert Williams

Eddie Stuart, Bill Shorthouse, Bill Slater, Billy Wright (c), Ron Flowers

Johnny Hancocks, Peter Broadbent, Dennis Wilshaw, Les Smith

Roy Swinbourne

Ferenc Machos (sub: Lajos Tichy)

Zoltán Czibor, Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, László Budai

Nándor Bányai, János Kovács, József Bozsik, Gyula Lóránt, Tibor Palicskó

Lajos Faragó

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