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Retrospective: The Blood Bath of Melbourne

Gazdovici Horia, 9F

Image from VEOL

In sight of all the events which are currently unravelling, meaning the war in Ukraine, an event of similar peculiarity to this conflict, yet of much smaller magnitude, happened in 1956. After a demonstration of the students of the Budapest Institute of Technology and Economics that went too far, and turned into a full-blown uprising, Russian tanks shortly started to roll into Budapest. However, the players of the olympic team of water polo were moved in a rush to Czechoslovakia, as they had to participate in the Summer Olympics in Melbourne.

At the time of their arrival in Australia, they had just learned that the Russian invasion had turned into a series of bombardments that killed innocent people by the dozens. That was just as they learned that they had to play against the Russian team. Pressure was sky-high as the match was just about to begin. From the first minutes of the match, violence could be observed in the movements of both teams, and the punch thrown by the captain of the Hungarian team was even caught on film, although the Russians attacked first. To add on to the intensity of the match, all of the members of the Hungarian team had been schooled with Russian as a compulsory language, since Hungary was under the Iron Curtain at the time, this resulted in curse words spoken in a language that could be understood by both teams.

As the Russians saw that they were about to be crushed by the opposing team, they started being even more aggressive, and they started playing mostly only to injure, seeing that the match was already doomed for them. The audience were outraged and started spitting and cursing and spinning their fists by the time the Russian team had gotten out of the pool. As the Hungarian team were exiting the pool, a famous photo of the bleeding captain was caught.

The riot police had to intervene in order to protect the Russian players and shepherd the crowd away.

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