This year’s program book for the Birmingham Ethnic Festival will be dedicated to teams of the Hungarian Soccer Club.
Festival organizers are looking for players who competed during the seasons from 1957 through 2005 to be recognized at the festival on Aug. 17.
Soccer has been a tradition in the Birmingham neighborhood since the arrival of a new wave of Hungarians after the 1956 revolution in their native country.
In 1957, there were three teams playing soccer in Toledo: the Bavarian Sports Club, the Kossuth, and St. Stephen’s. Eventually, St. Stephen’s became the Hungarian Club soccer team.
The early teams traveled to Detroit, Fort Wayne, Cleveland and other cities to compete with other ethnic clubs.
As the popularity of soccer in the U.S. grew, the Toledo Soccer League came into existence and teams were organized by other ethnic groups, with both the Hungarian Club and Bavarians joining in league competition.
The original Hungarian Club team consisted mainly of players who escaped Hungary and resettled in the Toledo area to start a new life. As these original players began to have families of their own, some second generation Hungarian-Americans and others from the Toledo area joined the team.
Former members of the North Toledo Old Timers as well as players from the Bavarian Soccer Club and University of Toledo students also began playing for the team.
Karoly Rona was the first coach of the Hungarian Club team. Others that followed in his footsteps included Frank Sipos, Steve Lefevre, Charles Ujvagi, Ed Ujvagi, Alex Vinciczky, and Ewald Gatzke.
Some of the former players include Karcsi Kiraly, Gyusi Deri, Laci Deri, Sandor Domozi, Karoly Visi, A. Vinciczky, Laszlo Koltai, Sanyi Hornyak, Mihaly Nagyivan, Stan Avalos, Dennis Szollosi, Cesare D’Emilio, Laszlo Goda, Bill Pasztor, Denny McDonald, Raphael Valdez, Manuel Valdez, Tom Szollosi, Matt Roharbacker, Doug Prymierski, Pudd Pudlowski, Bruce Peterson, Gabor Balazs, Steve Cherry, Noel Farmer, Marcel Hesseling, Michael Lease, Mike Lindsay, Brandon Pelton, Adam Schoen, Marc Seymour, Dave Wachowiak, Ryan Williams, D.M. Maze, Alex Vinciczky, Jr., Joe Hoppe, Dave Prediger, Mike Duty, Bob McClain, Johnny Kern, Brian Rossi, Mike Lease, Ron Reeder, Jr., John Cook, Gary Cook, and Mike Jagielski.
Competition between the Hungarian Club and Bavarian Club blossomed over the years with players and coaches becoming close friends and many of the games “ending” at the Hungarian Club over a few beers.
Former players can register online at www.birminghamethnicfestival.org to be recognized in the program or call (419) 693-1500.