The FA Cup despite all the efforts of the governing body to sell the naming rights, allow the police to dictate when matches can be played and deciding to penalise fans through the pocket at the semi final stage, still has a magical image. Last month we was at Brimsdown Rovers as they played in the Preliminary Round of this year’s long road to the final in May at Wembley. It is still the one cup competition that clubs on the whole take seriously and crowds are consequently good throughout the rounds.
But overseas most cup competitions are seen as a side show to the league. In Italy, Juventus often played their games during the working day in front of crowds of less than 500, often fielding a team that would fail to make their reserve squad for a league game. In Germany, despite the changes made in making it more competitive by drawing the higher placed team away, demand rarely exceeds supply. Last week we saw at the Swedish Cup Semi-Final in Helsingborgs that the attendance of 4,000 was less than a third of the capacity of the ground for a gain against one of the biggest teams in the league and just over an hour away by train. This would be the equivalant of a crowd of 12,000 at Upton Park or 25,000 at Old Trafford.
This week was the third round of the Danish Cup – the Ekstra Bladet to give it is proper name, and the round where the Superliga teams come into the game. Again, using the German principal the higher placed teams were drawn away, meaning the likes of FCK were drawn away to Elite 3000 of Helsingor who play some four levels (which is the equivalant of Chelsea playing Averley). The game that caught my eye was FB v Vejle. why did it catch my eye? It was near Carlsberg where I had a meeting, it was on the way to the airport and of course it was another ground in Copenhagen that I had not been to.
The game had to kick off at 4.30pm at Frederiksberg stadion, a two minutes walk from the fantastically named Peter Bangs Weg, as it had no floodlights. In fact it is a big Athletics stadium with an old wooden stand on one side and a tuck shop like wooden hut on the far side. The club had allowed school children in free so the atmosphere was very Hockey International, complete with streamers and jelly and ice cream.
FB, or Frederiksberg Boldklub are nearly 100 years old and were one of the clubs that were merged to form the “super club” of FC Copenhagen back in the 1980’s. And at this point I have to admit defeat. I could not find any further information in English about them (there was very little in Danish either) so all I can say is that they played in a natty yellow and black number and were currently in the Danmarksserien Pulje 1 league along with the likes of Nexo Bornholm, GVI, Dollefjelde Musse and B1921 (not to be confused with B1903 of course).
Vejle were a Superliga club last year, losing their place in the final weeks of the season. They hail from Jutland – that bit of Denmark that is stuck on the top of Germany. They have won the league on six occasions, most notably in 1983 when they were inspired by Allan Simonsen, fresh from his stint at The Valley with Charlton Athletic. That was their last title and the highpoint since has been the opening of the Vejle Stadion.
FB 0 Vejle BK 4 – Frederiksberg IP – Wednesday 24th September 2009
60 Danish Kroner got me in, and 65 Danish Kroner got me a beer and I took a bench (as in a park bench) behind the goal and settled down to watch the game from a distance. And do you know, it wasn’t bad. Sure you could see the difference in league status but both teams went for it from the first whistle. Vejle played with three up front and went past the defenders at will, trying the old Sunday league tactic of trying to shoot from 30 yards to score the perfect goal. It took 14 minutes for the deadlock to be broken with the impressive Edu Silva (could be two Arsenal players!) heading in unmarked in the box.
They away team continued to pass the ball around, and somehow did not manage to score a second. However in the second half they stepped up a gear with the impressive Ibrahim Salou pulling all the strings going forward. It was 2-0 six minutes after the break after a great drive in from the edge of the box (sorry I was distracted at this point by a sausage), and a third in the 71st minute when Salou got his reward when he headed home.
One of the home fans (in a crowd of around 300) spent the whole of the second half running up and down the edge of the pitch berating the players for their lack of effort (see my Danish lessons are working) and threw his baseball cap at the dugout in disgust. The wind took said cap and it landed firmly in the back of the head of the fourth official. He looked round to see who the culprit was but our friend had been route marched out of the ground by two stewards. A fourth came in injury time when Valentino Lai scored from close range, giving the score line a fair reflection.
A very pleasant late afternoon in anyones book, and I was off to the airport, awaiting the draw for the next round, hoping to see a Bronshoj or Valby home game to tick off my final grounds in Copenhagen….Is that a bit sad? Of course not…Where there’s beer and sausages surely any man is at home!