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22.04.2016, 15:50
Handball fanaticism at its best: Two armies, one love
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FACE TO FACE: MVM Veszprém and HC Vardar are home to two of handball’s most recognisable fan clubs, who will meet in the stands at the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals.
 

Handball fanaticism at its best: Two armies, one love

The VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final clash between MVM Veszprém and HC Vardar will not only be a heated contest on court, but will see two of the most passionate, influential fan groups in handball meet in the stands.

The Veszprém Handball Fan Club was founded in 2004 by a group of enthusiastic Fotex fans, but since then a number of smaller groups have come into existence alongside the official supporters’ club.

“We are very proud to be acknowledged all over Europe. Opponents are never happy to be drawn against us and they always claim Veszprém Arena is extremely hard to play in due to the atmosphere we create,” says Istvan Gyurakovics, the leader of the noisiest sector, who was once featured on ehfTV as supporter of the week.  

In the opposing corner, the ‘red-black’ fan group “Komiti” started in the middle of last century when groups of supporters started following Vardar’s football club, but the handball connection only began during the 1994-95 season, when Vardar started competing in the EHF Cup.  

“I don’t know how the opponents feel when they play in Jane Sandanski, but from what we can see and read most of the teams like to avoid the tense atmosphere we create. But after all it is good to see that everyone leaves our city with positive comments about our passionate cheering,” says a member of the Komiti fan group.

The best match

Csaba Remport, founder of the official Veszprém fan club has been following the team for 25 years but claims it is impossible to pick one game as the best ever.

“Emotionally, the game after the Cozma murder [against Leon in the first knock-out round of the 2008/09 EHF Champions League season] was second to none, but there were so many memorable games. But the best is yet to come – when we win the Champions League that will be the day.”

For members of Komiti it is equally difficult to point to one single match that can be marked as the best ever.

“It is hard to choose the best match, but I have to say that the Champions League matches are the ones with the greatest atmosphere. Some of the matches that are worth mentioning are those against Hamburg and Flensburg, which were played in the Boris Trajkovski arena.”

When it comes to the process of cheering, the founder of the official Veszprém fan club says:

“Before big games the fans march from their nearby haunts – this are very spectacular. We sing, wave our flags and bang our drums as loud as we can. This sets the mood that we continue to keep up during games. Expect to have ringing ears for a couple of hours after a visit to Veszprém Arena!”

Komiti say their cheering tactics during a match depend on how the game progresses:

“Depending on the location where the match is being played we gather two hours before the start of the match. We don’t have any cheering process because the match dictates what kind of songs and pressure we are going to use.

“If we have a tough match then we sing short songs, chants and whistles. If we see that our team will easily reach victory, then we sing longer songs without much pressure or tension.”

Beyond the bounds of Veszprém and Skopje

Veszprém’s faithful are known for keeping their heroes company in away games as well as at home, and it is safe to say the Hungarian team has the largest travelling crowd in Europe. A crowd of a thousand is not a rare sight for nearby encounters such as matches against Zagreb and Celje, or games in Poland.

“When we won the Cup Winners’s Cup there were about 1800 Veszprém fans in Mannheim,” says Remport, while Gyurakovics believes the highest number of Veszprém supporters in an away game was in 2015, when 2200 fans travelled to Celje.

Komiti also have a great record of supporting the team in away matches played in European competitions.

“Each away match brings new adventure,” says a member of the fan club. “We have had many interesting matches over the years in rival hall Avtokomanda, but also in the other towns like Strumica, Kumanovo and Bitola.”

Mutual respect between fans

“People know how to cheer for their teams in the Balkan area, and Vardar of course are no exception,” says Remport. “They have a nice hall where everybody shouts and sings all game long. I don’t know how many of them will come to Veszprém for the second leg but we are usually very hospitable.”

The atmosphere Komiti create in Skopje makes them recognisable all over Europe, and every team that visits Skopje admits this is one of the hardest cities to play in because of it. Vardar’s fan club attribute the different atmosphere to their more diverse group:

“Most of Veszprém members are older or family people, while our group has different age groups including plenty of young members starting from the age of 15 ending with numerous 50-year-old fans.”

Vardar and Veszprém will play their VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals this Saturday and the next. Both matches will be streamed live on ehfTV.


TEXT: Bence Martha / Amina Idrizi / cg
 
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