Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
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Paul Herczeg

The Maccabi team

Paul Herczeg began playing soccer in Hungary at the age of six. After the war, he took up the sport again, first at the Feldafing displaced persons’ camp (Germany) and then as a member of Weilheim’s Jewish team (Germany). In Montreal, Paul joined the Maccabi team, a Jewish soccer team. All his teammates in the photo he is holding had immigrated to Canada around 1948 and several were Hungarian like him. The team trained on Sundays at Fletcher’s Field, now known as Parc Jeanne-Mance. This Maccabi team was league champion in Montreal and a source of pride for Paul.

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Tell me about this picture: who are these and what is this?
This picture is also on Fletcher’s Field of the Maccabi team but this is a select team, we selected other
players of different teams and these three Italian boys were helping us out but it was basically called the
Maccabi. This is a Jewish championship team of Montreal. How did I become part of this team? These
are all the immigrants in 1948 and 1949 – and I would say this is 1950 and by then we had a lot of
Hungarian boys who wanted to play soccer and became a very good team and we beat everybody in
Montreal. There was a championship in Montreal. How did I get involved? There was a team, it was not
a very good team before us, and I joined in. Then through me, this guy joined it, this guy joined it, this
was a professional in Hungary, a very well-known soccer player. Every one of them is a new immigrant.
On the Fletcher’s Field, most of the Jewish people from this neighbourhood congregated. When they
saw we were playing soccer, they came over: “Oh, can I join?” “Come to the practice!” And it became a
very productive situation because we got together a lot of good people. We trained together and
achieved championship in Montreal. Because they had an Italian team, they had a French team, they
had an Irish team, very good team, all immigrants – every immigrant group created a soccer team. There
is two Jewish teams: this was the Maccabis and that was the Hakoah.
And how did you become involved in soccer?
I was a kid and kicking a ball was very interesting. I got to like it and I was playing on the street. Once I
received a satchel and my parents put a soccer ball into it and they asked me to go to the store and the
satchel was with me always, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, kicking the ball on the string all the
time. So then at 10 or 11 years old, we had a school team and I was one of the best in soccer because I
was kicking with both legs and that was an advantage. I was a very good soccer player.

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