I heard a rumour


“Have you seen John Terry?”

As random questions go, this was up there with some of those uttered from my parents.  I was queueing to get some more beer underneath the Sud tribune in Brøndby Stadion when the question was asked by a complete stranger who somehow figured I was English (perhaps it was the socks with sandals combination?).

26895142486_85c86a2c5c_z“Do you mean, have I ever seen John Terry?”  I had once seen the much maligned Chelsea captain in Huck’s restaurant at Elveden CenterParcs back in 2001 apart from playing for Chelsea and England so I wasn’t lying when I answered in the affirmative.

“No, here.  He is sitting over there” the women said, waving her arm in a direction that was either towards the Gents toilet or the Main Stand depending on how literal you wanted to be.  I hoped for Terry’s sake it was the latter otherwise he’d be all over the front pages (again) for the wrong reasons (again).

Depending on which rumour you care to believe, Terry was at tonight’s Superliga derby between Brøndby IF and FC Nordsjælland because a) he’s good friends with club owner Jan Bech Andersen and accepted an invite to pop over as he would not play again this season (or ever) for Chelsea due to suspension, b) he was about to take over as head coach from Aurelijus Skarbalius who had joined a long list of managers who had heralded a new dawn but simply made the club darker or c) he was actually planning on buying out Andersen and running the club himself. There was a fourth reason of course, which was why I was here with Ben. And that is you can’t beat a beer (or three), a sausage (or two) and a good jump around on the terraces on a Monday night.

This used to be a regular occurrence for me. For over two years Copenhagen had been my midweek home and instead of spending every night in my apartment watching Kroning Gade (Danish Coronation Street), I went off in search of football. In two years I managed to watch games at 37 different Danish and Swedish grounds but there was nowhere really like Brøndby (OK – apart from Malmö). My very good friend and Ultras expert Kenny Legg ranked the Copenhagen Derby played at the Brøndby Stadion as, as he eloquently put it, “F’ing insane” – and he’s a man whose experienced Weymouth versus Dorchester Town (twice!). Quite simply it should be one game that every football fan takes in once in their lives.

26323371404_525d2c9a37_zA rare need for a work trip to Copenhagen fortuitously fell on the very day Brøndby were hosting their cross-city rivals, FC Nordsjælland from leafy Farum. Whilst it’s currently the fashion to talk about clubs overcoming insurmountable odds to win the league (Leicester City were 5000/1 to win the Premier League in case you missed that little fact), we should pause and reflect on the story of FC Nordsjælland who broke the FCK dominance of winning seven of the previous nine titles.  Whilst the club had always been respected for its youth development, they hadn’t really made a mark on domestic football in Denmark until 2010 when they won their first major honour, the Danish Cup.  A year later they retained the trophy, once again beating FC Midtjylland in the final.  However in 2011/12 they led from the front almost on day one and never looking back.  Not only did they cap that season with the title but five of their players were called up to the National team.

It was always felt that the dominance of FCK on the domestic game, fuelled by perennial Champions League money would never be broken but FCN proved it could be done.  Whilst FCK won the title twelve months later (with FCN hosting Chelsea and Juventus in the Champions League ironically at FCK’s Parken), the last two titles have been won by two more “upstarts”.  Alas, neither were Brøndby.

Last season the story over here, and also back in England, was of FC Midtjylland who again if you believed the media, won the league through the footballing equivalent of card counting.  The club, based a few miles up the road from Legoland had been on the fringes of the honours for a while but it took the investment of Brentford owner Matthew Benham and his statistical approach to both recruitment and retention of players to reach that Tipping Point that saw them crowned as champions.

26895138446_4e8aec971e_zBut back to today.  Ben had procured the tickets for a ridiculous 60DKK (£6) each but failed to remember that we were in Denmark and so a 7pm kick off meant 7pm Danish time, not 6pm that was displayed on Soccerways….Ben has only lived in Denmark for 8 years now.  He was quickly forgiven when we took our place at the front of the beer and sausage queue though.  He brought me up to speed on the state of play in Denmark’s Superliga.  FCK were as good as champions again, holding a seven point league over this season’s surprise package, SønderjyskE.  Then came AaB (champions in 2014) and FC Midtjylland (champions in 2015)…and then Brøndby, some seventeen points behind FCK with six games to play.  “So the title still isn’t out of the question Stu”.  He is a Spurs fan and up until the draw with Chelsea was absolutely convinced Spurs would win the title on goal difference.

With only 2nd and 3rd place qualifying for the Europa League and having painfully lost a two-legged Danish Cup semi-final to FCK it looked bleak for a return to European football.  That was unless they could get three points tonight.

Brøndby IF 2 FC Nordsjælland 1 – Brøndby Stadion – Monday 9th May 2016
The warm, yellow liquid currently raining down on us reminded us why it’s a bad move to stand at the bottom of the Sud Tribune. Fortunately the liquid appeared to be beer, thrown in the air to celebrate Kamil Wilczek’s goal. Brøndby had conceded in an all too familiar manner just three minutes before much to the groans of a number of fans around us.  A rather animated chap, in full kit with the name “Aggar” on his back tried to show his mate how to clear an attacking ball that had led to Marcondes’s equaliser, using a small teddy bear.  She wasn’t impressed and stormed off just as Wilczek’s goal went in.

Whilst the game was fairly entertaining, with Brøndby understanding that they key to winning the game was to stop the opposition getting the ball (possession is 9/10th of a win as well as the law), the real spectacle was the fans.  It may have been five years since I was last standing on the terraces here but you never forget the feeling of the ground beneath your feet literally bouncing as the fans jumped up and down, sank their lungs out and waved the flags.  You cannot fail to be impressed.  This was what watching football should be like.  Passion.  Of course it helped that you were trusted enough to have a beer, although it did seem to be the standard pratice to throw it up in the air when the home side scored.

John Terry couldn’t help be impressed by the atmosphere – certainly a little less manufactured some of the grounds in England.  He at least won’t have to learn a new language and of course their liberal attitude to the vices means he may stay off the front pages.  Then again, it is just as likely that Celtic boss Ronnie Deila will pitch up here in a few weeks once the Celtic gig has finished.

It will Always Be Copenhagen


200px-Akademisk_Boldklub_logo.svgAB…one of the looooong list of footballing acronyms in these parts.  Anyone who wants to be taken seriously in these parts needs to complete a University course (free of course over here) in learning your AB from your AaB.  In the top league alone we have AaB, AGF, FCK, FCM, FCN and OB.  Let’s not even get started on KB, B93, B1901 and B1909 all of whom can lay claim to being league champions in these parts at some point.  Tonight is all about Akademisk Boldklub, or the “The Academic Football club”. One would expect the likes of Wenger to one day arrive here, or that there isn’t a boot room rather a library containing works by Jean Paul Sartre, Søren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (of course Dostoyevsky).  In fact there are few teams in the world that can claim a Nobel Prize winners as former players but AB can, with nuclear scientist Niels Bohr having played between the sticks on numerous occasions when his atom-busting research allowed.

The club were formed with the intent of giving Danish students a sporting outlet back in 1889.  But they proved they weren’t all brains by winning the Danish title on no less than 9 (nine!) occasions, only bettered by the current foes Brondby IF and FC Copenhagen.  Oh, and KB who of course were part of the merger back in 1991 to create FC Copenhagen.  So they have a fair pedigree although their last title was back in the days when Mrs Robinson was the original MILF, Sergeant Pepper decided Match.com wasn’t for him and formed a band and Che Guevara made a fatal mistake by holidaying in Bolivia (that’s 1967 for those who can’t be bothered to look up those events!).  They did of course win the 1999 Danish Super Cup on penalties, beating AaB in the most confusing titled game ever, as if you needed reminding. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The day the sausages ran out…


So after nearly 11 months my Danish season draws to a close with an afternoon we all love – a double header.  With so many teams playing in Copenhagen these days there is always a game on somewhere, especially on National Holidays such as today.  The Danes, like their German cousins, celebrate Ascension Day.  The day that Christ, allegedly, got on a special Ryanair plane and flew up into the sky.  And they take a day off for it.  Now considering that the country is one of the least religious I have ever visited I find this quite odd.  However, it did mean only half a days work for me (I keep English hours despite being in Denmark) and then an afternoon of football.

And what more could a man ask for.  BGA and BSF both at home, separated by a few miles of motorway.  What do you mean you have never heard of them?  Legends in these parts, legends.  In a town where their rivals include AB, FB, B93, HIK and B1903 it is hard to remember who is who, but do we really care?  After all it is football.  And Danish football means sausages, beer, err beer and more sausages.  OK, I admit it.  I am addicted to watching football with a pint in one hand, and a sausage in another.

First up was BGA v Greve.  Boldklubberne Glostrup Albertslund were formed out of a merger of Glostrup FK and surprisingly Albertslund IF.  Glostrup FK themselves were formed back in 2003 from a merger between three local teams.  It is all so complicated out here.  I often find watching Eastenders and understanding their “family trees” more relaxing that trying to work out the parentage of Danish football teams.  What do you need to know to start with?  They play in an athletics ground (boo), they wear all red and they sell beer and sausages.  There, simple as that.  They are flirting with the relegation zone back to the Denmark Series, the regional leagues with just three games to go.  The visitors Greve would be relegated if they didn’t win this one, although even three points may not be enough if results elsewhere went in their favour. Continue reading

Fancy a cheeky weekend away?


One of the greatest joys in life is a European Football Weekends.  We love them so much that Danny even named his site after them.  What could be better than sitting in a foreign football stadium, watching some crap football with a bottle of  “Plop” in one hand and a strange looking sausage in another?  Nothing I hear you cry, and you are 100% right.  We are often asked by virgins (in the football abroad sense) where they should head to break their overseas cherry.  Many want to head to the bright lights of the likes of the San Siro in Milan, The Camp Nou in Barcelona or the Estadio Bernabau in Madrid.  Sure, these cathedrals of football should be on everyone’s “Stadiums to visit before you die” but for the sheer pleasure in discovering a perfect weekend we always thrown in the venues below.  You simply cannot go wrong with the five destinations below (well, you can but it will be enjoyable!).  So clear some free weekend time, log onto SkyScanner and Hotels.com and off you go.  Remember to send us a postcard! Continue reading