Always a bridesmaid, never a brideArticle
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A look back at Győr's history in finals is a painful one, but it could all be forgotten this season

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride

Nowadays there is no handball fan in Europe who is not curious about Győr: can it be that the club can break their terrible run and win the Women’s EHF Champions League title after seven lost European cup finals? 

Győri Egyetértés Torna Osztály (Harmony Gym Class of Győr) Handball Club was founded in 1948 and had a good start in 1950’s.

The handball team was the younger sibling of the football club, which was established in 1904 and has been a regular feature in Hungary’s top flight since 1960.

The girls did not have to wait too long for the first Hungarian Champion title, battling their way to the title in 1957, but the success was short lived and harder years came.

In 1966 they fell out of the first division and fluctuated between the leagues for a number of years.

In the “city of rivers”, where several sports were rising and shining in the 70’s and 80’s, where the football team won the national league two times in a raw in the 80’s,  the women’s handball could not find the way back among the best.

In the second half of the 80’s the men’s handball club of Győr won the national league three times and they claimed the IHF Cup title in 1985/86.

Attila Vanyus was the president of Győri ETO for 22 years (from 1989 to 2011) and speaks about the state of the team when he arrived.

"When I arrived to Győr, in 1989, the team finished tenth in the Hungarian League, which meant they fell down to the second class.

“There were about 7-8 adults and 10-15 young players in the squad and the team were in tatters. I was continuously running and searching for players, meanwhile trying to develop the youth teams,” said Vanyus.

Turning point

1993 became a cult year in the club’s life. The 1992/93 season was a turning point for the team thanks to a big sponsor providing support and allowing the club to sign several good players such as Eszter Mátéfi and Anikó Nagy.

Eszter Mátéfi stayed with the club until 1997 and speaks about her time there.

"When I was playing in Győr we were usually ended in fifth or sixth place. They were building up the team stage by stage and this long work came together.

“President of the club, Attila Vanyus, made huge efforts to develop the team and make their players to the level of the Hungarian national team. Beside of these developing the young players was always a main task in Győr,” explained Mátéfi.

1993 was also the year when Győr’s living legend, Anita Görbicz started to play this game and the ETO supporters did not have to wait too long before getting to know her.

In 1993 Audi automobile company established its subsidiary in Győr and some years (and business successes) later became the most important sponsor of the women’s handball club.

“We can thank everything to the local entrepreneurs who love this sport and who were stood beside us," said Vanyus.

The club made their first international appearance at the City Cup in 1995/96.

Seven finals without a win

1999 signalled the beginning of the cup final curse, as they met Viborg in the EHF Cup Final and were defeated.

Although they collected an astounding 18 Hungarian titles (10 national leagues and 8 Hungarian cups), they could get over that last hurdle in European Cup finals: losing 1 Cup Winner’s Cup (2006), 4 EHF Cup (1999, 2002, 2004, 2005) and EHF Champions League (2009, 2012) finals, last year’s final due to scoring fewer away goals after a 54:54 draw over two legs with Budućnost.

"We became much better and better; first we participated in the City Cup, then EHF Cup and CWC. Really we should have won two finals of the seven: one is against Cornexi, then against Buducnost.

“We had a draw in Podgorica we have lost at home court. Knezevic saved in top-form, while Radicevic, who quasi was a child was also brilliant.

“In my opinion there are no other teams who can be in the best four squads in the world for so many years. Many teams have won the Women's EHF Champions League trophy, for example Slagelse won it three times, but where are they now," said Vanyus.

The structure of the team changed a lot during these years, only one person remained the same: Anita Görbicz who is leading the club ranking with the most played matches in green-white jersey and also the ranking of most goals scored.

Györ excellent academy system also appears to have developed the next Görbicz too.

"We have an excellent system: we set up an academy, and now the first students who are only 19 years old are playing in our affiliate-team, Veszprém.

“This is a brilliant example how an academy should work. They were not only playing on our academy, but most of them are studying in college.

“They are a brilliant talent and we gave them every possibility. For example there is Gabriella Tóth who is only 16 years old and scored about 100 goals in the first Hungarian League. When Anita Görbicz was in the same age, she wasn’t so effective,” concluded Vanyus.

Görbicz will celebrate her 30th birthday on 13 May. Is there anyone in the handball world who does not know what she is wishing for as a perfect birthday present?

Additional information

Györi Audi ETO KC face Larvik in the Women's EHF Champions League Final second leg on Saturday, 11 May at 15:15 live on

TEXT: Judit Juhász / cor