Time for a short Transylvanian sporting update.
Starting, obviously, with Ice Hockey, since that's what Csikszereda lives, breathes, and gets vaguely enthused by. After two seasons in which Sport Club Miercurea Ciuc have taken part in both the Romanian and Hungarian leagues, and one season in which the other team, HC Csikszereda, did the same, it became clear to everyone that Romanian teams participating in the Hungarian league got much better from the increased competition, and so to be competitive you therefore had to be taking part in Hungary too. An invitation had been on the table for the other big club in Romania, Steaua Bucharest, to join up too, but they'd always refused. This year however, having failed to qualify for the league final for the first time since ice was invented (by Gunther Eis, an Austrian physicist, in 1902), Steaua realised that they needed to be in it. However, somehow they managed to convince everyone else to turn the league into a combined Hungarian Romanian league.
With me so far? Good, because now it gets really confusing.
So there is a league (the MOL League) comprising ten teams - 6 from Hungary and 4 from Romania - as well as the three mentioned above, Romania's fourth representative are Progym Hargita Gyöngye, from Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni) (another town in Harghita County). There is still some kind of rump Hungarian league in which the 6 Hungarian teams will participate in after this league has finished, and which will be based in some way on the league positions obtained here. I'm not really sure. As for the Romanian league, I have no idea. I can't find information about any plans whatsoever, so perhaps this league will be it. There doesn't seem to have been a cup this year either, and normally the season opens with the Romanian Cup. Just to complicate matters still further, one of the Hungarian teams in the league is the reserve team of Alba Volan who actually now play in the Austrian league.
Flushed with excitement at all these incomprehensible rule changes, the Romanian clubs have gone out and brought in players of a calibre not previously seen in this part of the world. There are Swedes playing for both of the teams here, and they are supposed to be good. I haven't actually seen any obviously Swedish people walking around with broken noses - the sign of a hockey player - but I presume they are here somewhere. I'd guess they were living it up in some gated community of millionaires and celebrities, but this is Csikszereda and we don't have one. Steaua have gone one better and brought in a Canadian who once played in the NHL (the first former NHL player to have ever been signed by a Romanian team). I'm not quite sure how much this bloke played in the NHL, and possibly it was just once for five minutes at the end of the game his team was winning 7-0 at the time, but still. It's all very high powered (I'm told). The season has already begun (another sign of encroaching winter) and the Romanian teams are already all at the top of the league (albeit after only two games).
Meanwhile in football, this evening sees the debut of CFR Cluj in the Champion's League, which since I'm nominally a CFR fan, I ought to be excited about, but I'm not really. they're going to get seriously bulldozed by all three teams in the group and it's just going to be fuel for the likes of Becali and the compliant Romanian media to rail against anything that doesn't come from Bucharest. Broadly speaking football in the country (at least in terms of the media) is Steaua (with some attention given to Rapid and Dinamo, and everybody else merely obstacles between those three and each other). it's really dull, and CFR Cluj's rubbish start to the season (they've already sacked the manager who got them the league and cup double last year) means that this will be a disaster. (I ought to point out that Gigi Becali, the main reason I despise Steaua with such passion, is not in any way associated with the ice hockey team of the same name, so they are in no way as abhorrent as Steaua the football team)
Meanwhile, the League is currently being led by a bunch of upstarts from a scruffy little town (Urziceni) which is on the road towards the beach. They are managed by Dan Petrescu who used to play for Sheffield Wednesday, and so, in the absence of the "Dirty Hungarians" of Cluj ((C) the repugnant Becali family), having them at the top is the next best thing. Anyone but Steaua really.
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