Hungarian Kopite Balint Ferke tells us what it’s like being Red in a far off land and what we can expect from their national champions, Debrecen.
You live in Hungary - so how come you're such a passionate Red?
I started supporting the Reds right before the kick-off of the 1981 European Cup final. We were considered underdogs at the time and I remember the pundit only talking about Real Madrid before the game. As soon as the Liverpool players emerged from the tunnel that night I could tell they meant business somehow. I was hooked.
You're supporters' club is relatively new - tell us how you all got together...
We became an official member of the Association of International Branches last year. However, many of us have been cheering on Liverpool since the Seventies and Eighties. We also have a few junior members and quite a few expatriates. We formed from a bunch of fans who went to the same bars to follow Liverpool on the telly week after week. We meet regularly and also have family events called Supporters' Club Weekends in the summertime. And we operate our own website with a message board.
How often do you get to see the Reds in action?
I have been going to Anfield for about 15 years. I try to go at least once a season. Many of our members are regular match goers and we encourage our other members to experience match day first-hand. It takes a lot of effort on our side as most of our members need to save up for months to be able to afford a trip. Obviously we try to follow the Reds when they play in the vicinity. We had hundreds of Hungarians making the trip to Vienna against Rapid this summer.
When are you next at Anfield?
For almost every home game we have some members travelling. There were a few at the Man City game at the weekend. I was very fortunate to witness the 2-0 win against Man Utd a couple of weeks ago and will be in Liverpool against Arsenal and Wigan in mid-December.
What was your reaction when Debrecen drew Liverpool in the Champions League?
Excited. It has been 35 years since the Reds have played on Hungarian turf so for many of us it will be the first time to be able to witness Liverpool playing against Hungarian opposition. And, of course, for thousands of Hungarian Reds it will be their very first opportunity to see the lads playing live.
What have you made of our start to the season?
It could and should have been better but we were really plagued by injuries and nothing seemed to go our way sometimes. I have supported the club through thick and thin and a few disappointing results will not change that. I am absolutely thrilled with Glen Johnson, he has been a revelation on the right. Some of our younger players have also shown their potential. I really like what I've seen from Insua and Ngog, for example.
What can you tell us about Debrecen?
Debrecen are a relatively small team in terms of their history in Hungarian football. However, in the last few years they have become a dominant force, winning back-to-back league titles. They are a pragmatic club and try to re-invest into their squad year on year. During the qualification process and the group games they've shown they are a very attack-minded team, scoring quite a few goals but conceding way too many. The Champions League is obviously a big challenge for them, all the clubs in the group have much better resources on and off the pitch. Still, they've shown at Anfield that they can play good football and they deserved the credit for that performance.
What can we expect from the atmosphere at the stadium?
The game is sold out. It is one of the most eagerly-awaited club football event in Hungary in recent years. Beside of the strong home support you can expect many neutral supporters in the stadium. The venue is an athletics stadium in essence which will not help the atmosphere. All travelling supporters should also hope for nice weather, because the whole stadium is open to the elements, there's no roofing above the terraces.