It will Always Be Copenhagen

200px-Akademisk_Boldklub_logo.svgAB…one of the looooong list of footballing acronyms in these parts.  Anyone who wants to be taken seriously in these parts needs to complete a University course (free of course over here) in learning your AB from your AaB.  In the top league alone we have AaB, AGF, FCK, FCM, FCN and OB.  Let’s not even get started on KB, B93, B1901 and B1909 all of whom can lay claim to being league champions in these parts at some point.  Tonight is all about Akademisk Boldklub, or the “The Academic Football club”. One would expect the likes of Wenger to one day arrive here, or that there isn’t a boot room rather a library containing works by Jean Paul Sartre, Søren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (of course Dostoyevsky).  In fact there are few teams in the world that can claim a Nobel Prize winners as former players but AB can, with nuclear scientist Niels Bohr having played between the sticks on numerous occasions when his atom-busting research allowed.

The club were formed with the intent of giving Danish students a sporting outlet back in 1889.  But they proved they weren’t all brains by winning the Danish title on no less than 9 (nine!) occasions, only bettered by the current foes Brondby IF and FC Copenhagen.  Oh, and KB who of course were part of the merger back in 1991 to create FC Copenhagen.  So they have a fair pedigree although their last title was back in the days when Mrs Robinson was the original MILF, Sergeant Pepper decided wasn’t for him and formed a band and Che Guevara made a fatal mistake by holidaying in Bolivia (that’s 1967 for those who can’t be bothered to look up those events!).  They did of course win the 1999 Danish Super Cup on penalties, beating AaB in the most confusing titled game ever, as if you needed reminding. Continue reading

The miracle of Farum

At the end of the A S-Tog line on the Copenhagen Metro you will find a sleepy town called Farum. The 18,000 locals here are proud of their identity as Farumese and not Copenhagenites, with a huge spread of different nations immigrants making up more than half of the population. Here it is still frowned upon to wash your car on a Sunday, play football in the street or walk on the cracks in the pavement. The small town centre is dotted with trees and wouldn’t look out of place in a Danish Trueman Show. Yet if you carry on walking down Ryttergårdsvej from the train station you will eventually arrive at Farum Park, home to the new Danish champions, The Wild Tigers of FC Nordsjælland.

Whilst Montpellier’s title in France may have been a shock to many, FCN’s SuperLiga title must rank up there as one of the greatest achievements in European club football. Next season the club, who average less than 5,000 fans at Farum Park could very well find themselves having to make arrangements to host the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Thanks to the progress made by the domestic dominators FC Copenhagen in the Champions League, Denmark had gained direct access to the Group Stages of the competition next season as the 13th best ranked country in club football. FCK fans must have been rubbing their hands in delight as the UEFA cash would allow them to dominate the game even further. But then came the next step in the development of a project started back in 2003 by local businessman Allan Pedersen.

Continue reading

The day the sausages ran out…

So after nearly 11 months my Danish season draws to a close with an afternoon we all love – a double header.  With so many teams playing in Copenhagen these days there is always a game on somewhere, especially on National Holidays such as today.  The Danes, like their German cousins, celebrate Ascension Day.  The day that Christ, allegedly, got on a special Ryanair plane and flew up into the sky.  And they take a day off for it.  Now considering that the country is one of the least religious I have ever visited I find this quite odd.  However, it did mean only half a days work for me (I keep English hours despite being in Denmark) and then an afternoon of football.

And what more could a man ask for.  BGA and BSF both at home, separated by a few miles of motorway.  What do you mean you have never heard of them?  Legends in these parts, legends.  In a town where their rivals include AB, FB, B93, HIK and B1903 it is hard to remember who is who, but do we really care?  After all it is football.  And Danish football means sausages, beer, err beer and more sausages.  OK, I admit it.  I am addicted to watching football with a pint in one hand, and a sausage in another.

First up was BGA v Greve.  Boldklubberne Glostrup Albertslund were formed out of a merger of Glostrup FK and surprisingly Albertslund IF.  Glostrup FK themselves were formed back in 2003 from a merger between three local teams.  It is all so complicated out here.  I often find watching Eastenders and understanding their “family trees” more relaxing that trying to work out the parentage of Danish football teams.  What do you need to know to start with?  They play in an athletics ground (boo), they wear all red and they sell beer and sausages.  There, simple as that.  They are flirting with the relegation zone back to the Denmark Series, the regional leagues with just three games to go.  The visitors Greve would be relegated if they didn’t win this one, although even three points may not be enough if results elsewhere went in their favour. Continue reading

Fancy a cheeky weekend away?

One of the greatest joys in life is a European Football Weekends.  We love them so much that Danny even named his site after them.  What could be better than sitting in a foreign football stadium, watching some crap football with a bottle of  “Plop” in one hand and a strange looking sausage in another?  Nothing I hear you cry, and you are 100% right.  We are often asked by virgins (in the football abroad sense) where they should head to break their overseas cherry.  Many want to head to the bright lights of the likes of the San Siro in Milan, The Camp Nou in Barcelona or the Estadio Bernabau in Madrid.  Sure, these cathedrals of football should be on everyone’s “Stadiums to visit before you die” but for the sheer pleasure in discovering a perfect weekend we always thrown in the venues below.  You simply cannot go wrong with the five destinations below (well, you can but it will be enjoyable!).  So clear some free weekend time, log onto SkyScanner and and off you go.  Remember to send us a postcard! Continue reading

Double Danish with a portion of Swede – part 3 football?

So a quick summary of the day so far…you left us after episode 2 with us jumping back onto the train at Helsingør after our trip across the Oresund to Helsingborg.  Beers and comfy seats secured, we kept an eye on Facebook updates from contacts in and around Parken just to make sure we would not be walking into a war zone.  The Brondby fans had marched from the city centre, proclaiming their V for Vendetta flags after some unsavoury incidents at previous games between the two, but we hoped tonight we would simply see some decent football and a cracking atmosphere.  The walk up Østerbrogade was relatively quiet considering such a big game was less than an hour away.  No police presence, and people going about their normal Sunday business (It was only later when we saw some of the pictures and heard about some of the trouble).

Go on BrondbySecurity around the stadium was light as well, and we passed through the ushers without so much of a frisk, which was handy as I was loaded with fisk – the liquid version of Fishermen Friends in a test tube – for our halftime entertainment.  Notice I said “usher” because that is what it felt like.  We entered the “concourse” area which was carpeted and surrounded by curtains, with people queuing at the concession stand for their “menu” choices.  We plumped for Menu 1 which was simply Four Carlsbergs, and certainly no FCK crisps and popcorn, and headed up to our seats in the second row for a great view of the pre-orchestrated fans displays, starting with the FCK fans “raise the flag” and the Brondby flag waving.  The fans did themselves proud during the game, but I was disappointed that there was so many empty seats.  I had been led to believe this was the “big one” and would be full to busting, but there was plenty of seats available at either end.

FCK 2 Brondby 0 – Parken – Sunday 14th March 2010

Into the night

In the end it came down to two bits of luck for FCK.  Sure they were probably the better team overall, but neither team really created a chance in the first half.  We sat freezing at pitch level surrounded by shirt-clad supporters from both teams (and even a Manchester United one thrown in for good measure), again dispelling the “hate” between the teams.  If someone turned up in the Bobby Moore Lower with a Rochdale shirt on, let alone a Millwall one an ambulance would be called for them within seconds to take them home.  It was also relatively well behaved on the pitch too with Denmark’s top referee Claus Bo Larson failing to have to get the card out in the first 45 minutes.  It took us all of 45 seconds to get the Fisk’s out at half time down in the cinema, warming the cockles on a freezing cold night.

And lets go wild

The second half started with a fantastic display of flares from the Brondby fans that was reminiscent of the last Milan derby I went to.  Smoke hung in the air as the game kicked off again, but the players seemed unaware of the work bragging rights riding on the final score.  Seventy minutes in, and still no chances of note before Brondby gave away a free kick right in front of us.  Up stepped Martin Vingaard (a literal translation of Martin Vineyard by the way) from 25 yards to curl the ball over the wall.  The Brondby keeper, realising the ball was heading for the back of the net back peddled and only succeeded in tipping the ball onto the bar/post and back onto his head and into the net.  The home crowd exploded in delight and the players ran to hug us – well almost and we got the perfect shot or two for the photo album.

And another - 2-0 FCK

Brondby tried to step up a gear, but in keeping with the rest of their season so far when it mattered they simply could not raise their game.  Coming into the derby they sat 12 points off top spot in 6th place and really needed the win, or at least a point.  It was not to be as in the final minute of four in injury time William Kvist’s shot from just inside the box took a wicked deflection and the ball sailed into the net.  The Brondby fans took this as their cue to leave, and decided that it was a bit chilly so they make a fire or two in the away end.  And did the police/stewards/firemen come running?  Er no, they simply stood around as if it was a normal occurence (which of course it may well be).  We waited for the players to come round to thank us for coming over from England for the game (what?  they don’t all read this blog?) before heading out to meet Ivar, a second generation FCK fan who took us under his wing for the night.

What the weekend was all about - Easter beer!

We headed across the road from Parken and into a Tardis-like bar where his chums were waiting for our safe arrival.  Chums who supported either team I hasten to add.  In the course of the next four hours we indulged in numerous Carlsberg Paskebrygs (Easter beer), more shots and general revelry where we found out lots of home secrets about our new found friend (read more here) as well as a few new ones including Brian “The Beast” Jensen’s brother no less, who introduced himself to us by mooning from the pool table.  They make ’em tough out here.  And then it was time for Danny, Deaks and Stu to wander on back to the bachelor pad before an early morning flight to good old blighty.

A successful trip all round I would say.  As you know, dear readers, I love a bit of Scandinavian action, and three games in just 24 hours has been easily doable, and enjoyable.  In fact, as is always the case, it was the football that let itself down and not the fans, the beer or the general good times had by all.

Want some more?  Well have a butchers at the EFW version of the day here.

A kick in the Baltics

Half term comes and goes three times a year and means us parents have to find new things to amuse the kids with.  I suppose I am lucky that I “live” in two of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities (for cosmopolitan read expensive) which means I have to entertain them twice over.  Things in life are rarely free, but this week I found something perfect…..for me!  A free friendly between two premier clubs, well two clubs who have seen better days in their respective leagues.  Roll up Brondby and Flora Tallinn.  We have been friends with Flora for awhile, despite having an average attendance that rarely breaks the three figure mark (see our last visit here) and looked forward to renewing our acquaintance, as long as they brought their fans with them (tall, blonde, love a drink and female of course).

With just two weeks to go until the re-start of the Supaliga season in Denmark, Brondby needed to be in tip top form to overcome the Europa League challenge of AGF and Esbjeg this season with the top two spots almost out of reach with OB and FCK setting the running.  They also had to get over the loss of Rasmussen, one of their brightest stars who had joined Celtic during the Winter break.

guess the game here is off then?

The game was an afternoon kick off somewhere on the Brondby campus.  They do not do things by half here, so alongside the impressive 29,000 stadium were a host of training and reserve pitches.  We had been to Brondby a few times, enjoying the hospitality of the Cafe 1964 Bar.  So with the Little Fullers wrapped up to the nines we headed across to Glostrup by bus and wandered around the training complex until we saw a sign pointing us in the right direction.

Brondby IF 4 FC Flora Tallinn 0 – Brondby IP – Wednesday 17th February 2010
So after a 10 minute walk through the complex of training grounds we arrived at the designated pitch where a crowd of a couple of hundred were already taking in the match day experience.  And by that I mean they had cracked open the beers.  Sod the fact there was no stand, just a pile of snow (a big big pile of snow) the Danes simply got on with it.  We had arrived just in time by the looks of things as the teams were lined up to kick off.

tights lino?

Or so we thought.  What had actually happened was that the game kicked off a minute before, Flora kicked off, gave the ball away, Brondby got a corner, they crossed it and Remco Van der Schaaf headed home…23 seconds gone. And we had missed it.  Thankfully, the electronic scoreboard replayed the action to us all (joke…I got an update on my phone!).  It was blooming chilly.  So chilly that the officials had donned tights for the occasion.

Overlooking the ground is Denmark’s biggest flag pole apparently, although Big Ben claims it is the world’s biggest, but having been to the peace village in the DMZ in Korea I would believe the crazy North Korean who pointed out a similar one to me there than a Tottenham fan any day.  The girls headed off into the snow and I stood having a beer with a guy who then started doing some warming up exercises and I discovered he was one of the Estonian team substitutes…

yep I was right

One became two in the 26th minute when a clearly offside Peter Madsen hooked the ball over the keeper after a cross from the right from Krohn-Deli.  As you would expect from a pre-mid-season game played on an artificial training pitch in sub zero temperatures it wasn’t high on quality, and if truth be told after Michael Krohn-Deli had headed home in the 75th minute, we were at the exit on our way back to the warmth of Cafe 1964.  Apparently the fourth came in the 82nd minute from the Dutchman van Schaaf but we were tucking into the hot chocolate/Tuborg classic and FIFA09 on the X-Box to care too much.

Pre-season games are rarely exciting and always fail to deliver any promise.  Add in freezing conditions, two little Fullers and tights and it ranks up there with the Zenith Data Systems 1st round clash at Upton Park in the late 1980’s with Plymouth Argyle…pointless.

Carlsberg don’t do football blogs, but if they did….

err..I'll have a Carlsberg thenCarlsberg….one of the best words ever invented by man.  Living in Copenhagen gives you a certain amount of pride of their most famous contribution to world culture.  In fact us Brits have been raised on adverts such as “If Carlsberg did Holidays/Football/Flats/Girlfriends etc” or The Danes hate to see it leave which are completely alien to the Danes who have not got a clue when I start going on about “If Carlsberg did football blogs…..”

I’d been over here in CPH for a few months without being able to venture down to Valby to the Brewery, or heaven as its known, and then two opportunities come along in one week.  Firstly as part of a Management awayday we got a “behind the scenes, access all areas” tour down into areas that are never seen by the general public, and then a week later I took the Fuller clan on a public tour which ends with a session in the bar sampling the likes of Jacobsen Dark Lager – classic stuff.  So how about a few facts I hear you ask…Well OK then – here are ten of the best…

Swastika1. The Swastika – An Indian peace symbol.  Long before the rise of the Nazi party in post First World War Germany the Swastika was known as a symbol of peace in many Indian cultures.  Carlsberg adopted the symbol during the 19th century and had it carved into their Elephant Gates at the turn of the century.  During the 1930’s they actually started legal proceedings against the Nazi party to stop them essentially infringing their copyright.  Guess who won???

2. Little Mermaid – Last year when the process of clearing some of the old storage rooms started in Old Carlsberg they came across a room that had been sealed for over 50 years.  In the back of this room they came across a sheet, which hid one of the original five Little Mermaid sculptures which nobody had a clue why it was stored down underground.  The good news is that with the “original” Mermaid due to go on loan to the Chinese next year, Copenhagen needs to bring in a sub and Carlsberg have started negotiations to “loan” the city this one.

The actual bottle made for Winston Churchill3. Special Brew – In 1950 the then master brewer Thomas Marfleet brewed a new beer to commemorate the visit to Copenhagen of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Churchill loved it and Carlsberg produced two crates especially for Winnie.  It then went on sale under the name “Easter Brew” before becoming Special Brew in 1951.

4. Carlsberg – The brewery was founded by Jacob Christian Jacobsen in 1844 on the outskirts of the city in a suburb called Valby.  It was named after his son, Carl.  He was so grateful to his Dad that he soon founded his own brewery thinking that “he knew best” called the Valby Brewery, before changing the name to Ny Carlsberg and moving next door to his Dad’s brewery.

5. Cathedral Brewhouse – The original “brewhouse” in Ny Carlsberg only stopped producing beer just over a year ago.  It is a magnificent four story galleried building and the copper “kettles” still dominate the room.  The next owners of the building are still not known.  A TV station, internet company and another brewery have bid for it but as it is listed no fittings can be removed and so it is becoming quite problematic.

6. Brands – Carlsberg is the 4th largest brewer in the world based on output but the biggest in terms of brand ownership.  Through years of acquisitions it today owns more than 45 brands including such well known ones as Kronenbourg, Holstein, Tuborg and Tetley plus the not so well known Law in Serbia, Kuche Kuche in Malawi and Koff in Finland.

7. Carlsberg Mansion – In the grounds of the Brewery sits the Carlsberg Mansion.  The red brick mansion is home to a number of famous Scientists who have won the Danish equivalent of the Nobel prize.  All winners of this prestigious prize are invited to live at the Mansion, rent free for the rest of their lives AND THEY GET FREE BEER! There are currently three such award winners living a live of permanent drunkenness.  Possibly the best known resident is Niels Bohr the Nobel Scientist who worked on the Manhatten Project.

The latest ever bottle produced - end right8. 18,242 unopened bottles – Carlsberg own the largest collection of unopened beer bottles in the world.  Some years ago they were approached by an individual who had over 10,000 DIFFERENT bottles in his possession but his wife wanted to use his beer room as a nursery (priorities!) and so they donated his collection to the brewery.  The collection includes a bottle from every brewery in the world as well as some special limited edition ones such as the Red labelled Carlsberg (see left) produced to commemorate the Danes reaching the 1986 World Cup finals (the bottle was a flop unlike the football team), a tetra-pack carton of beer, the original Winston Churchill produced Special Brew and the last ever bottle (end one on the right) produced at the brewery in December 2008.  Prior to this Carlsberg produced over 4 million bottles A DAY!  They still produce the very limited edition Jacobsen beer which sells for over 2000 Danish Kroner a bottle (the 2008 edition sells for 2008DKR, this years will be 2009DKR etc) – probably the most expensive beer in the world

9. Workers rights – At its peak whilst producing 4million bottles per day, the brewery employed over 5,000 people on the site in Valby.  Part of their working rights was the right to drink 6 beers per day free of charge.  They could drink these at any time, but amazingly could only have 2 cigarettes a day!  They could also purchase cheap beer in the staff pub.  On pay day the workers wives used to arrive at lunchtime to collect their wages to stop them pissing it all away!  Technically this perk has never been rescinded although few workers today partake in this practice.  Also quite surprising for such a huge operation was the fact that people only ever worked from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday – no weekends or long nights as the Jacobsen family prided itself on offering all of its workers a healthy private live.

SNV1171210. Carlsberg and Football – “Carlsberg don’t sponsor football teams, but if they did they would probably be the best teams in the world”….Well actually they do sponsor four football teams at the moment and none of them are world beaters!  They have been the main sponsors of FCK (FC Copenhagen – see here for more on their history) for years but apart from one decent season in the Champions League a few years ago they have failed to make an impression on the European stage.  OB from Odense are the other domestic club they sponsor.  OB are the new domestic force and could well take over the mantle from FCK.  Then you have two clubs in England.  No prizes for getting Liverpool as the first one, although that long term deal (18 years) is coming to an end in May 2010 when the Anfield club reluctantly accept over £20m per season from Standard Chartered.  But could you easily get the 4th club?  Well they actually played Liverpool at Anfield in January 2008?  Still no idea? Well it is actually Havant & Waterlooville!  They played Liverpool in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, losing 5-2.  Of course you knew (liar).

So next time you order a pint of Carlsberg, pause before you down it and think about all of the toil that went into producing that pint….or simply down it and order another one!