”Never go back they say” – well quite frankly that is bollocks, and having been made so welcome by OB in the Autumn (read about our last trip here) I entered the Fionia Park on Saturday accompanied by messers Last and Deaks (officially representing European Football Weekends for the start of a trilogy of dreams. The EFW team were here on a fact finding mission to the Nordics, checking out the facilities prior to the main event in the summer. Three games, two days and two countries. After a British Rail style delay due to “weekend engineering works” we arrived in Odense in time for kick off in the first game of the weekend, with hosts OB hoping to go top with a win against lowly Sonderjyske.
We like OB fans here at TBIR. They represent some of the best bits of Danish football. Proud of the heritage of their club, pleased with the progress they are making on and off the pitch and passionate to an extent that doesn’t border on stupidity. We were also keen to catch up with Roy Carroll, the ex-Man Utd, West Ham and Derby County keeper who was involved in potentially the most embarrassing “goal line” incident in Premier League history when we “saved” that goal against Spurs some years ago despite it being some yards behind the line. We wanted to catch up with Roy to ask him on what he felt about goal line technology.
But first we had the little matter of a game. There was a moving tribute to a supporter of the club who had recently passed away (who looked a little like David Brent I have to say on the big screen) which was accompanied by a rendition of “You’ll never walk alone”.
OB 1 Sonderjyske 1 – Fionia Park – Saturday 13th March 2010
It wasn’t just Roy Carroll we were pleased to see but also our old friends Eric Djemba-Djemba (so good they named him twice) and Peter Utaka, brother of Portsmouth’s Johnnie who was still scoring goals for fun out here. And we didn’ have to wait very long for a goal as OB had obviously been watching a bit of Stoke City in the winter break as a Delap style throw in caused chaos in the box on 13 minutes, Utaka helped it on and Henrik Hansen (no relation to Helly apparently) hooked the ball in for the home team.
But wait! A goal at the other end within a few minutes. Everyone in the OB defence seems to stop and Kenneth Fabricius (no relation to Cesc) wanders through and equalised for the home team – and Roy Carroll’s first touch of the ball for the afternoon is picking the ball out of the net.
Half time came and went and Danny showed his boy scouting side by somehow procuring some free beers from the executive lounge, which was the high point of the first hour. OB did have the ball in the net in the 69th minute when Peter Utaka headed home but his full nelson on Sonderjske’s Ottesen had been spotted by the lino.
By the 80th minute we were, quite frankly freezing. Results had not gone our way with West Ham reserves being tanked at Stamford Bridge and Lewes losing 3-0 at home to Havant & Waterlooville, so we needed cheering and warming up. Henrik (no relation to Helly remember) went close in the 89th minute to a winner for the home team when his shot from 25 yards skimmed the bar. But that was the last chance for the home team to go top of the table, in a game that could only be described as frustrating. So all that was left was the press conference, and hopefully a word with Roy Carroll, now crowned “King of Goalkeepers in the whole of Denmark”. The home manager, Lars Olsen, came in sat down and grumpily explained that “no, he wasn’t concerned that they had only drawn and didn’t go top”. He ignored my question about Hans Christian Andersen potentially being available on loan and instead got up and walked away. The away manager then came out, hopped over the table and got straight into the mix, explaining at length the need for white Michael Jackson gloves and tight jeans on the touchline. Roy Carroll came bounding in and was obviously in a rush, holding his Easyjet boarding card for his trip back to the UK (but no Speedy boarding I hasten to add – still watching the pennies!). He gave us a potted version of how he came to be playing in the land of crap bacon.
“Basically I wanted to play. I wasn’t guaranteed to get a game at Derby County, Odense came in with an offer and here I am. I live out here now, but my Danish is still not good as everyone speaks such good English (snap!)”
He went on to explain how the goalkeeper of the season thing worked, and with that he waved us a cheery goodbye and was gone into the night. So we followed, not literally of course, and within ten minutes we were back on the train, heading 100 miles or so east to Copenhagen with a few cans for comfort. And the rest of the night? Well, lets sum it up as a sing song in a Scottish pub, some aborted darts in an Aussie bar, a hot dog and Ron Bergundy. Lovely stuff.
For another view of the day, head to Danny Last’s European Football Weekends blog, which ironically is one of the only things in Denmark this weekend not sponsored by Carlsberg, but we are always open to offers.