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.

Prior to 2003 the local team had been Farum BK. They had reached the top division only once but a scandal caused by the then chairman and local mayor Peter Brixtofte almost took the club to the wall. Brixtofte used his position within local politics to overpay for private company services, who in return sponsored the club.

Today the club aren’t universally popular. Despite the almost monopoly on domestic success enjoyed by FCK and the fact they benefit from the use of the national stadium, Parken, the FC Nordsjælland model is seen by some as predatory. They formed an organisation called Fodbold Samarbejde Nordsjælland (FSN) which is now formed of over 25 (rumoured to be as high as 100) local clubs who in return for allowing FCN first dibs on any good youngsters, get friendlies, tickets and the patronage of a professional club. However, the other view is that here is a club trying to do things the right way by developing young Danish players.

The club has made steady progress over the past decade. They have won the Danish Cup twice (in 2010 and 2011 both times beating FC Midtjylland) and played in the UEFA Cup/Europa League on four occasions, the last two resulting in defeats by Sporting Lisbon.

At the end of last season after a 6th place finish in the league, head coach and former Celtic player Morten Wieghorst stepped down to take charge of the Danish Under21’s side (he is rumoured to be primed to take over from National Coach Morten Olsen). His replacement was Kasper Hjulmand who had been Wieghorst’s assistant.

Under Hjulmand he has got the best out of young players such as Jores Okore, Søren Christensen, Seajou King and of course Andreas Laudrup, son of Michael, playing a very fluid 4-2-3-1 system with the reliance on counter attacking football. They have beaten FC Copenhagen twice in the SuperLiga this season, and only two defeats at Farum Park have demonstrated what a difficult place it is to come and play.

The current squad is 80% Danish nationals with a smattering of Swedes. This season has seen five players called up for the national side, although only Andreas Bjelland and Tobia Mikkleson will be travelling to Ukraine. However, the majority of the first team squad are both products of the FSN and under the age of 25 meaning that the future can only get brighter with the millions of Kroner that will start to flow into the club thanks to their appearance in the Champions League next season.

The irony of their title is that it has put another nail into the coffin of Brondby IF. Long seen as the natural rivals to FC Copenhagen, the Drengene Fra Vestegnen have had another season to forget with a 9th place finish (in a league of 12 that is basically 3rd from bottom). With European football missing from next season’s fixture list for the third successive season it is hard to see what can be done to get them challenging at the right end of the table again.

So come Champions League Group Stage draw time, there will be a 50% chance that FC Nordsjælland will be drawn with an English side. If that does happen then expect the games to be moved to Parken some 15km down the road as the club will look to maximise the revenue opportunities which will be a shame as they will lose part of the magic that has made the rise to glory so special.

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