A cheeky Carlsburg in the Sun

Two weeks in April and London saw the heaviest snowfall it had had for years…IN APRIL, AFTER EASTER, IN APRIL! Two weeks later it hit the highs of 17 degrees – for one day. The following day I travelled out to Copenhagen for the day to shore up the budgets for 2008/09 weel ahead of deadline day, and thus earn lots of respect for being the “most organised manager in the company”…and the sun was shining from the very moment Luton’s finest touched down in Denmark. And when the sun shines in Copenhagen, all of the beautiful people come out of their winter hibernation, shed their clothes and inhibitions and simply enjoy life. Unbelieveably my trip tied in with a game in the capital – wow I hear you say, what co-incidence. Well, yes I am sure some of you dear readers may think that but I work long and hard and so I should have a bit of downtime while I am away.

With the season drawing to a close, games are shoehorned into whatever dates are available, and with IF Brondby now in the Danish Cup Final the local derby versus Lyngby needed re-arranging and it just so happened that it was arranged for the same day I was due to be in Copenhagen. The good news was that it was an early kick off at 6pm but the bad news was that as I was on a in and outer (return on same day trip) I would have to miss the last 30 minutes of the game, but that was acceptable, after all it was a game featuring the Danish version of Derby County, and based on what I had seen at the weekend when the rams had sent 33,000 West Ham fans to sleep at Upton Park I was sure I wouldn’t miss much.

So I sneaked out of the office at 5pm on the dot and headed north on the driverless metro (does this mean the prospect of strikes are removed?)to Norreport where I changed onto the commuter lines. Rush hour in Denmark is as chaotic as any city in the world. The city centre is small, and most people live within a 20 minute commute meaning that trains are frequent, but full. I managed to squeeze on the E S-Tog northwards, and after 10 minutes and a few stops the train emptied out a bit. The train then passed through the Hellerup region, which based on the size of the houses (think Bishops Avenue in Hampstead) is where the big bacons hang out. It is also the home to the Tuborg brewery, which is being converted into some exclusive flats and apartments on the water front. 15 minutes later and the train pulled in Lyngby station. There are other ways to get here – notably the “local loop” which runs close to the stadium. I looked at Google maps before I left the office and saw how rural this line looked – grass growing in the tracks, nobody waiting at the stations, so chose to head for the main line station. With three options available – walk (30 minutes perhaps), bus (not sure where to go or which one) and a taxi (simple and available) I chose the expensive but easy option. Interestingly enough the taxi had to wait at the level crossing with the local loop line as a single coach train trundled by on a single track line – good choice Mr Fuller! The taxi took less than 5 minutes and cost less than £10 which is a miracle in this city.

With ten minutes to kick off most of the crowd seemed to be inside already. In fact for a few moments as I walked around the stadium and couldn’t find an entrance I was hit with the fear that I might not get into a game – something that has never happened to me in nearly 10 years of travelling abroad to watch football. However, a kindly policeman – with a fierce dog pointed me in the direction of a couple of blokes sitting at a table in the middle of a training pitch like some left overs from a summer fayre. They sold me a ticket for 175DKK – possibly the most expensive ticket that I have ever bought in the country, but it did allow me to enter through the totty gate – three of the best looking stewards in world football manning the gate was worth at least 5DKK alone! I was also issued with a free programme – the kind of deal that some of my travellers from Istanbul would have killed for!

The stadium was a typical Danish lower league affair – a municipal stadium meaning it had an annoying athletics track which does nothing but to hamper the view. The rest of the stadium was quite unique and gave the arena a homely feel. Behind each goal were steep grass banks with a few rows of concrete steps. These had filled up with fans drinking beer and enjoying the sunshine as if they were at a concert or simply enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the park. In one corner was a clubhouse which had a large balcony full of fans like some modern day Craven Cottage. The main stand was simply a steep few rows of terrace with a roof, but home to the Lyngby fans. Opposite the main stand was a smaller stand which was full with Brondby fans singing their English songs (“You’re not singing anymore” was a favourite, despite the fact the home fans were singing!). The ground had been split down the middle with the Brondby fans out numbering the home fans by 2 to 1. They certainly kept up the tempo during the open exchanges. It was also a good opportunity to see Brondby’s strange chocolate brown and sky blue kit – not a combination of colours you would normally put together but in this instance it worked well.

Lyngby haven’t spent many seasons in the top division but are one of the most historic teams in Denmark. Coming from a country that has a history of creating teams simply as money making machines such as FCK in the late 1980’s it is a proud record, and their championship winning season last year was one of the highlights from recent seasons. They were actually the most feared team in Denmark during the 1980’s when they won two titles, four Runners Up spots and three Danish Cups. It all went wrong for them in 2003 when they went bankrupt and had to drop down to the amatuer leagues. Their rise back to the top has been fast to say the least – in just four seasons they achieved four promotions, cumulating in the 2nd Division championship last season. However, this season not much has gone their way as they had only picked up 12 points, and relegation was assured as early as March. But they still had pride to play for, and a local derby was never going to be a boring game.

So I settled down, beer and Danish sausage captured, sunshine warming my face and watched a cracking game that saw the lead change hands on four occasions before the final whistle and a 2-2 draw. Lyngby certainly didn’t play as if they were dead and buried and if it wasn’t for some inspired goalkeeping then they could have been 3 or 4 up by halftime. All of the crowd seemed to revel in the sunshine, some more so than others as on a walk around the stadium to the gents you had to step over a few prone snoozing fans (I should invite them to Upton Park – they would be at home there!). For £17 it may have been on the expensive side for a football match but it was the perfect end to a busy day and certainly one for the groundhoppers.

About the Lyngby Stadion
As with many other stadiums in Denmark, the Lyngby Stadion is part owned by the local council and is thus classed as a municipal stadium. In other words it has an athletics track meaning that the view from many parts is not particularly good. You do however get a real homely feel from the stadium – perhaps due to the club house in the corner of the ground that is packed to the rafters during a game with spectators hanging from the balcony.

The stadium has two steep grass banks behind each goal, which do have a few rows of concrete steps. In the late spring / early summer these grass banks form impromptu picnics and there is a real relaxed feel. Depending on who the opposition will depend on the away allocation. If IF Brondby of FCK are visiting then expect half of the stadium to be given to the away fans. They are allocated the smaller stand that runs down the side of the pitch, with the home fans in the main covered stands. In each corner you will find temporary bars and sausage grills.

Programmes are handed out free as you enter the stadium, and there is a temporary shop (well clothes rail) that is pulled along the side of the pitch during the game if you feel a need to purchase a scarf at the height of excitement in the game.

Who plays there?
When Lyngby Boldklub won the Danish 2nd division last season they were promoted to the Superliga for the first time in a number of years, meaning that Copenhagen had 4 teams in the top league for the first time in over a decade. However, this status seems to be shortlived as the club have found life at the top level difficult and were relegated with games to spare in April 2008.

The club have actually won the Danish Championship on a couple of occasions – most recently in 1992 which was the end of a period of sustained success for the club when they won three Danish Cups in the 1980’s as well as their first title in 1983. In the period from 1981 until 1991 they only finished outside the top 3 on one occasion. Everything went wrong for the club in 2001 when they were made bankrupted and were relegated to amateur leagues, reforming as Lyngby Boldklub. In less than 3 seasons they had risen back to the 2nd Division and after a period of rebuilding they pushed on to the top division in 2007.

The club has had a number of famous players including Henrik Larson, Dennis Rommedahl and Marcus Allback and is reknowned still for its youth academies which unfortunately end up seeing young payer leave for FCK or IF Brondby.

How to get there
The stadium is located in the north of Copenhagen in the suburb of Lyngby. The easiest way to reach the area is via S-Tog from Norreport (which is the interchange for both metro lines) via lines B or E. The latter runs fast from Hellerup meaning that the journey time from the city centre is 15 minutes, and costs 50DKK. When you exit the station you can catch bus 182 from directly outside the entrance to the stadium (journey time 10 minutes and 20DKK), get a taxi (10 minutes and 60DKK) or walk if the weather is nice which takes 20 minutes.

Getting a ticket
Crowds in Danish football are not known to be too high, and for most games buying tickets in advanced for Lyngby is not necessary. The games that do tend to sell out are the ones versus local rivals FC Kobenhavn and occasionally IF Brondby. With relegation on the cards again in 2008 then the biggest games will be versus Hvidovre and AB. Tickets on the day of the game can be purchased from the turnstiles at either end of the stadium for 110DKK, or 175DKK for games versus the big two. Alternatively you can book tickets online at http://www.billetnet.dk and then arrange to pick them up from a number of places in the city centre.

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