Essex Park. Try finding that one on the map of grounds in Europe and I bet your efforts at locating it will end in frustration after you have trawled through the English Non Leagues. You see it isn’t on these shores at all. It’s in Denmark, in the city of Randers to be precise and is home to Superliga Randers FC. Quite why it is called such I do not know, but when someone recently asked me I vowed to find out and that is why at 6.30am on a freezing cold Sunday morning I was boarding a Ryanair flight to the even colder area of Denmark known as Jutland. Continue reading
For hundreds of small football clubs across Europe this week sees the start of their cup adventures. A win at this stage in some of the smaller countries and they may get lucky and draw one of the big boys, whilst in England it will be a few more rounds before the 402 teams who will be playing in the Extra-Preliminary round this week will have the chance to play a once in a lifetime game.
My cup adventures, unsurprisingly were going to start in Copenhagen. Many of the teams who enter into the Ekstra Bladet cup are no more than Saturday League teams. Many of the grounds are simply playing fields with a rope around them. However, the rewards for some of the 88 teams are great. A win at this stage and they will go onto the draw with 8 of the Superliga teams (those who finished 5th and below), so this season that includes recent champions AaB and 2004 runners up FC Midtyjlland. Last season regional side Helsingor3000 drew the plum tie when they hosted FC Copenhagen in a game that had to be played during a midweek afternoon as the ground had no floodlights.
Our aim this year was to try and follow the cup in England and Denmark in traditional style. Pick a team and watch them until they get knocked out, then follow the winners. We have tried this before, most recently with Grays Athletic but their subsequent draw away to Carlisle United put pay to our ambitions. Our English starting point is still up for debate in the Fuller household – I want to do Lordswood FC but parental duties may mean I end up at Lincoln Moorlands Railways FC – either way they will have my full support. Continue reading