From the vault. Wales 2 Hungary 1. 17th of June 1958.

Welcome to our ongoing series looking at past Welsh games over our history for memorable reasons, either positive or negative or before a big upcoming match, look at a match between the two respective sides from the past.

Wales versus Hungary. There have been several games between the two nations, but for this series, there is only one game I can select, and that is the playoff game in 1958 in the World Cup Finals in Sweden. If I chose anything else, it would only be wrong.

The two sides had already played in the tournament in a group game resulting in a one all draw, but now there was a playoff match where the winner would face Brazil in the quarter-finals. A huge opportunity, awaited, who would prevail?

17th June 1958 is the date the game took place in Solna, Sweden. The Welsh managed by Jimmy Murphy had put in some strong performances already, they had drawn all three group games against Hungary, Mexico and host nation, Sweden respectively and must have been buoyed by the fact that they had already played the “Magyrs” already, drawing the game so any fear factor could be disassociated.

In the match itself, John Charles was recognised by the Hungarians as the main threat, and set upon the “Gentle Giant” with uncontrolled abandonment. Charles suffered many fouls during the game, and as he himself wrote in his autobiography, “My legs were black rather than blue from the pummelling they had taken.” This close attention to the player left space for others to exploit and when you have players of the ability of Ivor Allchurch, Cliff Jones and Terry Medwin that room you are asking for trouble.

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Hungary did however, score first with Tichy putting the ball past Jack Kelsey in the Welsh goal. What transpired throughout the game was both teams creating chances with some great attacking football being played. Slowly, Wales started to get on top. Indeed, ten minutes after half-time, Allchurch equalised in a game that ebbed and flowed.

In the 76th minute, Medwin gave Wales the lead. The Hungarians frustrations grew, and only three minutes after the Medwin goal, Sipos was sent off. Wales were going to play in Brazil in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. The only slight gloss of this fact is due to the treatment John Charles received in the game he would not be fit to play against Brazil. If he did play, we will never know if that would have changed the outcome, will always remain yet another what if sporting story.

A game that will remain part of Welsh footballing history, and these are how the teams lined up that day:

Jack Kelsey
Mel Hopkins
Derrick Sullivan
Stuart Williams
Dave Bowen (capt)
Mel Charles
Ivor Allchurch
Ron Hewitt
John Charles
Terry Medwin
Cliff Jones

Gyula Grosics
Sandor Matrai
Laszlo Sarosi
Jozsef Bozsik (capt)
Laszlo Budai
Antal Kotasz
Ferenc Sipos
Jozsef Bencsics
Dezso Bundzsak
Mate Fenyvesi
Lajos Tichy

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