'It was Honved who danced to Wolves' tune at the finish' - Sixty years on, read full historic match report

Wolverhampton | Sport | Published:

As part of our extensive coverage of the 60th anniversary of Wolves' defeat of Honved, today we reproduce our match report.

In 90 tempestuous, and often tormenting minutes at Molineux, last night, Wolves lifted English soccer to a plane compared with which the Himalayas are mere foothills. They beat Honved, pride of Hungary, one of the best footballing combinations in the world 3-2 to complete, with a straight left, the two-fisted battering of continental cracks which began with the right hook that recently floored Spartak.

But that was not all. In getting this most memorable of all their victories before 54,998 oh-so-proud followers, they did what almost every football-wise follower in the world would have said was impossible – they hit back to win after being two goals down. And the team who are two goals down to Honved are usually on the way to a crushing defeat.

At one fell swoop, and urged on by Wolverhampton's own roar, they went a long way towards avenging England's humiliating reverses at Wembley and Budapest, and completely avenged their neighbours, rivals and friends, West Bromwich Albion, who had had a boot-on-the-other-foot experience against this side, whom they led 3-1 and then failed to overcome.

How it appeared in print

This was a minor version of England v Hungary. Wolves had five England players in their line-up and Honved had seven men who play for their country, including four of the forward line who devastated England at Wembley.

But Wolves refused to be devastated.

They were shaken, it's true (as any team would be shaken by two goals in the first 14 minutes), but they were never put right out of their stride and the way in which they fought back to win was something all who saw them will never forget. And the man who marshalled them must be the proudest in Britain today.



He is Billy Wright, Wolves skipper, who as captain of England, had twice been mortified by most of the same Hungarians. Wright meant Wolves to win this match if it was humanly possible and it was he whose unflagging energy and outstanding football sense enabled him to set the example to a side every man of whom was ready, willing and well able, to back him to the hilt.

What Wolves did was, by soccer standards, almost super-human. It was Honved, not they, who were shaken; Honved, whose pride was trodden into the Molineux mud.

And the mud, by the way, was not such a hindrance to Honved as to give them any excuse for defeat.

They were beaten fairly and squarely after they had shown us during parts of the first half why they have come to be regarded as the soccer masters. Their first goal, in ten minutes, following a generously awarded free-kick, for hands against Flowers, was well taken by Kocsis from the Puskas kick. Their second, four minutes later, was superb, and was soccer at its best.


Roy Swinbourne looks on as Honved full-back Kovacs clears the ball acrobatically


Finding a way out of heavy pressure in their own penalty area, they worked the ball down the right wing for Kocsis, with the craftiest of passes, to put the flying Machos clean through to beat Williams with a cleverly placed shot.

This was good, but was it any better than Wolves' 77th minute winner?

It began with a tenacious fight for the ball by Shorthouse and Smith almost on the halfway line. Smith won and slipped away down the wing.

He pushed the ball forward to Wilshaw, who slid it into the patch of Swinbourne for the centre-forward to leave even the acrobatic and accomplished Farago (what a reserve goalkeeper!) groping at thin air.

This goal came at just the right time – exactly a minute after Swinbourne with a well-directed downward header from a perfectly placed Wilshaw lob had brought Wolves level.


Honved went out of the game as a possibly superior force in the 57th minute when Lorant jumped in the centre circle to get both hands to a ball that must have gone to Swinbourne. By its very desperation it was an admission of defeat, and from that point, Wolves might have 'done a Spartak' with such another goal rush.

The Magyar calm had gone, and the hitherto confident continentals were reduced to merely ordinary opposition.

Another factor was the Hancocks penalty shot (only scoring attempt which left Farago on both feet) four minutes after the interval. This did Honved no good, but it roused Wolves to the fighting pitch which showed them to be surely the fittest eleven in football.

How they lined up – the 22 men that battled it out on that famous night at Molineux in 1954

Their greatest strength was in their half-back line, where Slater and Flowers reduced the potential effectiveness of the free-scoring Puskas and Kocsis at an almost negligible quantity. We saw some of the craft of these two fine forwards, but it was plain to see they did not like the close marking and quick tackling of their opponents.

Nor were the much-vaunted wingers, Czibor and Budai, entirely happy against Stuart and Shorthouse, the latter, in my view, coming out as the best of the four backs.

One or two of the Honved movements looked like carving up the Wolves defence, particularly those side flicks to flying wingers, but Wolves found the answer even to this.

In Wolves' attack this inside trio compared more than favourably with their Hungarian counterparts; Wilshaw the craftsman of the line, with Swinbourne the hardest forager and Broadbent the midfield collector and distributor. Wolves' wingers played their part too. Hancocks might have scored once, and so might Smith. And behind them all was the familiar Williams. Not half so busy as Farago, he nevertheless made brilliant saves at crucial stages of the game.

There were those two at close range from Kocsis and Machos midway through the first half when a third goal might have put a much different complexion on the game. Then there was the save in the last few seconds from the penetrating Puskas.

WOLVES – Williams; Stuart, Shorthouse; Slater, Wright, Flowers; Hancocks, Broadbent, Swinbourne, Wilshaw, Smith.

HONVED – Farago; Rakoczi, Kovaks; Bozsik, Lorant, Banyai; Budai, Kocsis, Machos (Tichy), Puskas, Czibor.

Referee: R. J. Leafe (Nottingham).

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