Carlsberg don’t do football blogs, but if they did….


err..I'll have a Carlsberg thenCarlsberg….one of the best words ever invented by man.  Living in Copenhagen gives you a certain amount of pride of their most famous contribution to world culture.  In fact us Brits have been raised on adverts such as “If Carlsberg did Holidays/Football/Flats/Girlfriends etc” or The Danes hate to see it leave which are completely alien to the Danes who have not got a clue when I start going on about “If Carlsberg did football blogs…..”

I’d been over here in CPH for a few months without being able to venture down to Valby to the Brewery, or heaven as its known, and then two opportunities come along in one week.  Firstly as part of a Management awayday we got a “behind the scenes, access all areas” tour down into areas that are never seen by the general public, and then a week later I took the Fuller clan on a public tour which ends with a session in the bar sampling the likes of Jacobsen Dark Lager – classic stuff.  So how about a few facts I hear you ask…Well OK then – here are ten of the best…

Swastika1. The Swastika – An Indian peace symbol.  Long before the rise of the Nazi party in post First World War Germany the Swastika was known as a symbol of peace in many Indian cultures.  Carlsberg adopted the symbol during the 19th century and had it carved into their Elephant Gates at the turn of the century.  During the 1930’s they actually started legal proceedings against the Nazi party to stop them essentially infringing their copyright.  Guess who won???

2. Little Mermaid – Last year when the process of clearing some of the old storage rooms started in Old Carlsberg they came across a room that had been sealed for over 50 years.  In the back of this room they came across a sheet, which hid one of the original five Little Mermaid sculptures which nobody had a clue why it was stored down underground.  The good news is that with the “original” Mermaid due to go on loan to the Chinese next year, Copenhagen needs to bring in a sub and Carlsberg have started negotiations to “loan” the city this one.

The actual bottle made for Winston Churchill3. Special Brew – In 1950 the then master brewer Thomas Marfleet brewed a new beer to commemorate the visit to Copenhagen of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Churchill loved it and Carlsberg produced two crates especially for Winnie.  It then went on sale under the name “Easter Brew” before becoming Special Brew in 1951.

4. Carlsberg – The brewery was founded by Jacob Christian Jacobsen in 1844 on the outskirts of the city in a suburb called Valby.  It was named after his son, Carl.  He was so grateful to his Dad that he soon founded his own brewery thinking that “he knew best” called the Valby Brewery, before changing the name to Ny Carlsberg and moving next door to his Dad’s brewery.

5. Cathedral Brewhouse – The original “brewhouse” in Ny Carlsberg only stopped producing beer just over a year ago.  It is a magnificent four story galleried building and the copper “kettles” still dominate the room.  The next owners of the building are still not known.  A TV station, internet company and another brewery have bid for it but as it is listed no fittings can be removed and so it is becoming quite problematic.

6. Brands – Carlsberg is the 4th largest brewer in the world based on output but the biggest in terms of brand ownership.  Through years of acquisitions it today owns more than 45 brands including such well known ones as Kronenbourg, Holstein, Tuborg and Tetley plus the not so well known Law in Serbia, Kuche Kuche in Malawi and Koff in Finland.

7. Carlsberg Mansion – In the grounds of the Brewery sits the Carlsberg Mansion.  The red brick mansion is home to a number of famous Scientists who have won the Danish equivalent of the Nobel prize.  All winners of this prestigious prize are invited to live at the Mansion, rent free for the rest of their lives AND THEY GET FREE BEER! There are currently three such award winners living a live of permanent drunkenness.  Possibly the best known resident is Niels Bohr the Nobel Scientist who worked on the Manhatten Project.

The latest ever bottle produced - end right8. 18,242 unopened bottles – Carlsberg own the largest collection of unopened beer bottles in the world.  Some years ago they were approached by an individual who had over 10,000 DIFFERENT bottles in his possession but his wife wanted to use his beer room as a nursery (priorities!) and so they donated his collection to the brewery.  The collection includes a bottle from every brewery in the world as well as some special limited edition ones such as the Red labelled Carlsberg (see left) produced to commemorate the Danes reaching the 1986 World Cup finals (the bottle was a flop unlike the football team), a tetra-pack carton of beer, the original Winston Churchill produced Special Brew and the last ever bottle (end one on the right) produced at the brewery in December 2008.  Prior to this Carlsberg produced over 4 million bottles A DAY!  They still produce the very limited edition Jacobsen beer which sells for over 2000 Danish Kroner a bottle (the 2008 edition sells for 2008DKR, this years will be 2009DKR etc) – probably the most expensive beer in the world

9. Workers rights – At its peak whilst producing 4million bottles per day, the brewery employed over 5,000 people on the site in Valby.  Part of their working rights was the right to drink 6 beers per day free of charge.  They could drink these at any time, but amazingly could only have 2 cigarettes a day!  They could also purchase cheap beer in the staff pub.  On pay day the workers wives used to arrive at lunchtime to collect their wages to stop them pissing it all away!  Technically this perk has never been rescinded although few workers today partake in this practice.  Also quite surprising for such a huge operation was the fact that people only ever worked from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday – no weekends or long nights as the Jacobsen family prided itself on offering all of its workers a healthy private live.

SNV1171210. Carlsberg and Football – “Carlsberg don’t sponsor football teams, but if they did they would probably be the best teams in the world”….Well actually they do sponsor four football teams at the moment and none of them are world beaters!  They have been the main sponsors of FCK (FC Copenhagen – see here for more on their history) for years but apart from one decent season in the Champions League a few years ago they have failed to make an impression on the European stage.  OB from Odense are the other domestic club they sponsor.  OB are the new domestic force and could well take over the mantle from FCK.  Then you have two clubs in England.  No prizes for getting Liverpool as the first one, although that long term deal (18 years) is coming to an end in May 2010 when the Anfield club reluctantly accept over £20m per season from Standard Chartered.  But could you easily get the 4th club?  Well they actually played Liverpool at Anfield in January 2008?  Still no idea? Well it is actually Havant & Waterlooville!  They played Liverpool in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, losing 5-2.  Of course you knew (liar).

So next time you order a pint of Carlsberg, pause before you down it and think about all of the toil that went into producing that pint….or simply down it and order another one!

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Welcome to the 7th most expensive city on earth


In February 2009 the consultancy firm Mercer produced their annual list of the 50 most expensive cities in the world to live in.  The report, available here, showed that Tokyo had become the most expensive city in the world to live in, knocking down Moscow from their top spot in 2008.  Despite the rip off of London Transport, London had slipped down to 16th.  Sitting 7th for the second year in a row was the capital of cool, Copenhagen.  Home to Carlsberg, bacon and lovely little bundles of blonde fun it had also become my official second home as a decent promotion at work (Business Manager, Nordic Regions if you would believe) meant that I would be spending alot more time in Denmark.  Part of my package was a very nice waterfront flat, which I gratefully accepted.  All I had to do was furnish it, clean it and buy all those essentials a man needs to make it through the working week.

CMF came over to give the place a once over last week, and drew up a list of essentials for the flat.  So, ladies and gentlemen, find below ten examples why Copenhagen is in the top ten again.  At the time of going to press there was 8.6 Danish Kroner to the £.

1. A bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo – Boots @ Bluewater £2.29.  Facta supermarket in Copenhagen 62 Danish Kroner (£7.16).

2. Marmite.  An absolute essential in the Fuller household – Sainsburys @ Chislehurst £1.79.  Copenhagen 52 DKR (£6)* I did try to smuggle some in – see Marmitegate below.

3. Lloyd Grossman Tomato & Chili sauce – Tesco @ Borough £1.98.  Copenhagen 55 DKR (£6.34).

4. Findus Crispy Pancakes – Iceland @ Scumville £1.09.  Copenhagen 67DKR (£7.74).

5. Andrex soft arse toilet roll – Co-Op @ New Eltham £1.99.  Copenhagen 48DKR (£5.54).

6. A pair (why are they always called a pair when there is only 1?) of scissors – Ikea @ Lakeside – £0.79.  Ikea @ Copenhagen 37DKR (£4.28)

7. Duracell AA batteries 4 pack (for my remote controls) – Dixons @ Stansted Airport – £2.29.  Copenhagen 50DKR (£5.78).

8. FHM Magazine – WH Smiths @ Stansted Airport – £3.95.  Copenhagen Airport 85 DKR (£9.82).

9. Disposable Razors – Superdrug @ London Bridge – £3.99 for 6.  Copenhagen 80DKR (£9.24).

10. 6 Cans of Carlsberg Special – Borough Market – £6.99.  Copenhagen Beer Markt 49DKR (£5.78)

*Marmitegate – I cannot live without Marmite and it is true that you either love it or hate it.  In the Fuller family we are all in the former’s camp and so we often have a spare couple of jars and so I took one with me on this trip.  As I went through security at the airport I was told it was bigger than the 100ml allowable bottles.  All the jar said was 250g, no capacity limit.  So I questioned the decision and was told “they” have sizing charts to show common bottles, and 250g of Marmite is over the allowable limit.  I asked to see said chart, but was denied.  So I had to hand over my precious, brand new jar but not before opening it in front of the security guard, and taking a fingerful just so that he couldn’t snaffle it away for his breakfast later.  I have since written to Unilever to get clarification on the Marmite sizing issue and will hopefully be able to prove my case on a future trip.

I had been given an allowance of £25 a week for my groceries.  So fed up after week one in being ripped off I decided on week two to go for the grown up approach – a ticket for FC Copenhagen v APOEL in the Champions League and a six pack of Carlsberg Special beer – total price £24.87..perfect.  Man cannot live on Marmite, Crispy Pancakes and FHM alone.  And as I managed to convince my Mum to make me some food parcels every week (I am only 39 after all!), and with CMF doing all of my ironing, and even an offer of the cleaning duties by the wonderful Tina in the office I was sorted.  So what else was I supposed to spend my money on apart from beer and football ?(I should add at this stage that the flat came with super XL cable TV with free unrestricted access to all, and I mean ALL, channels).

Due to the changes put in place by Monsieur Platini, the Champion League this year seemed to have been going on for ever.  The final hurdle before the Group Stages is the Playoff round…This is where the worst placed teams in each of the domestic league qualifiers come in in a special group of their own.  FCK had been in the competition since mid July, beating Mogran the Montenegrin champions, then beating my new favourites StabaekIF from Norway.  So they were now 180 minutes away from the Group Stages, and assuming Arsenal overcame Celtic then would have a one in two chance of drawing an English club and thus a massive pay day from the home game.  In November 2006 they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the Champions League in front of a sell out crowd with an average ticket price over 350DKR (£40).  For the game against APOEL, winners against Partizan Belgrade in the previous round, tickets were half the price.

So, a short walk and a 10 minute train trip saw me outside the Parken, the national stadium, now fully renovated after a multi-million Kroner redevelopment over the past two years.  The old stadium, the Osterbro had also had a facelift of its own and I sneaked in prior to the game for a quick look.  This was the original Parken, home to B1903 who were one of the clubs merged to form FCK as well as BK Skjold who play in the Danish 2nd division.

The crowd was sparse to say the least so I had no problems getting a seat on the touchline so I could observe the antics of the few hundred travelling fans, which being Greek, would mean a passionate, if unreasoned display, and I was not wrong.  APOEL are the most successful team in Cypriot football having won the championship on twenty occasions, and have reached this stage of the Champions League back in 2002.  They were hoping to emulate the fantastic achievements of Anorthosis last season in reaching the Group Stages.  They can also claim to have had such players as Chris Bart-Williams, Dean Gordon and Terry McDermott at the club at various stages in the past twenty years.

FC Copenhagen 1 APOEL FC 0 – Parken – Tuesday 18th August 2009

They really dont like the linesman

They really dont like the linesman

So with no more than 15,000 in the stadium the atmosphere was muted.  As the teams walked out to the Champions League anthem you would be confused to think this was FCK v Brondby based on the kits…Ah the Kits…FCK love a kit or four.  I went to the club shop before the game to see what wears they had.  For once it was hard to find any tack (apart from a blow up sun lounger in the shape of a FCK shirt) but what I did find was shirts galore.  FCK have obviously been to the English football club school of ripping fans off as they had not one, two, three or four but FIVE kits.  Brace yourself for this:-

Kit one – All white with blue trim used as their Superliga home kit
Kit two – An all black number which is their Superliga away/change kit
Kit three – A change shirt just in case Newcastle or Notts County are moved to the Danish leagues of pink (not salmon pink or fuscia more like highlighter pen pink) and black shorts.  I did ask one of the guys from the office who goes regularly how many times he has seen them wear that kit and he couldn’t ever remember one occasion.
Kit four – An all white with blue AND red trim used for their European home games.  It is exactly the same as the home kit but one half has red piping on sleeves and edge of shorts.
Kit five – An all navy kit used as their European away/change kit

As they are sponsored by Carlsberg they also have to produce a non sponsored top for children or when they play in alcohol paranoid countries such as France.  Add to these the three goalkeepers shirts and you can understand how confusing it is for the fans as to which shirt to buy and still look cool (remember this is Copenhagen, the capital of cool where everything has to be just right).

The away fans tried to raise their teams efforts, but for the first half an hour they simply got the run around from a much more inventive FCK team who still had the tricky Jesper Gronkjaer on the left wing.  Some of the FCK passing across the field was excellent, but they simply could not find the final ball.  The Canadian Atiba Hutchinson did much of the running for the Danes, but APOEL, but on a nucleus of aging non-Greek players held firm.  In the first half alone there was just 2 shots on goal, both coming from the home team.

The second half improved slowly but seemed to come to life after APOEL’s Haxhi was cautioned for a silly foul on Hutchinson.  In the fifty third minute the deadlock was broken as FCK’s attacking full back Pospech appeared unmarked at the far post to head home.  The goal did spur APOEL into action and they came the closest to a goal all evening when Alexandrou went close.  The away fans had been getting more and more upset with the linesman in our corner as they deemed some of his flagging a little excessive.  Tempers reached boiling point when an arguement broke out over who should keep the ball that had ended up in the crowd and stewards had to intervene between two bear chested posturing Cypriots, full of testosterone and frustration.  It was all in vain though as FCK came the closest to a second when a shot from the impressive Almeida hit the post and then in the dying seconds Haxhi committed another stupid foul and realised he was to get a second yellow.  So he could just take it like a man, walking off without a second glance but he decided to take the Stephen Taylor (Newcastle United Centre Back v Aston Villa two years ago) approach and roll around on the floor as if he had been the injured party hoping the referee who have a change of heart.  No such luck and he was off, much to the away fans anger.

So 1-0 was not the best result for the home team.  The temperatures both on and off the pitch next week in Cyprus will be boiling, and with a high probability of a decent draw in the Group Stages it will certainly be one not to miss.

A cheeky Carlsburg in the Sun


Two weeks in April and London saw the heaviest snowfall it had had for years…IN APRIL, AFTER EASTER, IN APRIL! Two weeks later it hit the highs of 17 degrees – for one day. The following day I travelled out to Copenhagen for the day to shore up the budgets for 2008/09 weel ahead of deadline day, and thus earn lots of respect for being the “most organised manager in the company”…and the sun was shining from the very moment Luton’s finest touched down in Denmark. And when the sun shines in Copenhagen, all of the beautiful people come out of their winter hibernation, shed their clothes and inhibitions and simply enjoy life. Unbelieveably my trip tied in with a game in the capital – wow I hear you say, what co-incidence. Well, yes I am sure some of you dear readers may think that but I work long and hard and so I should have a bit of downtime while I am away.

With the season drawing to a close, games are shoehorned into whatever dates are available, and with IF Brondby now in the Danish Cup Final the local derby versus Lyngby needed re-arranging and it just so happened that it was arranged for the same day I was due to be in Copenhagen. The good news was that it was an early kick off at 6pm but the bad news was that as I was on a in and outer (return on same day trip) I would have to miss the last 30 minutes of the game, but that was acceptable, after all it was a game featuring the Danish version of Derby County, and based on what I had seen at the weekend when the rams had sent 33,000 West Ham fans to sleep at Upton Park I was sure I wouldn’t miss much.

So I sneaked out of the office at 5pm on the dot and headed north on the driverless metro (does this mean the prospect of strikes are removed?)to Norreport where I changed onto the commuter lines. Rush hour in Denmark is as chaotic as any city in the world. The city centre is small, and most people live within a 20 minute commute meaning that trains are frequent, but full. I managed to squeeze on the E S-Tog northwards, and after 10 minutes and a few stops the train emptied out a bit. The train then passed through the Hellerup region, which based on the size of the houses (think Bishops Avenue in Hampstead) is where the big bacons hang out. It is also the home to the Tuborg brewery, which is being converted into some exclusive flats and apartments on the water front. 15 minutes later and the train pulled in Lyngby station. There are other ways to get here – notably the “local loop” which runs close to the stadium. I looked at Google maps before I left the office and saw how rural this line looked – grass growing in the tracks, nobody waiting at the stations, so chose to head for the main line station. With three options available – walk (30 minutes perhaps), bus (not sure where to go or which one) and a taxi (simple and available) I chose the expensive but easy option. Interestingly enough the taxi had to wait at the level crossing with the local loop line as a single coach train trundled by on a single track line – good choice Mr Fuller! The taxi took less than 5 minutes and cost less than £10 which is a miracle in this city.

With ten minutes to kick off most of the crowd seemed to be inside already. In fact for a few moments as I walked around the stadium and couldn’t find an entrance I was hit with the fear that I might not get into a game – something that has never happened to me in nearly 10 years of travelling abroad to watch football. However, a kindly policeman – with a fierce dog pointed me in the direction of a couple of blokes sitting at a table in the middle of a training pitch like some left overs from a summer fayre. They sold me a ticket for 175DKK – possibly the most expensive ticket that I have ever bought in the country, but it did allow me to enter through the totty gate – three of the best looking stewards in world football manning the gate was worth at least 5DKK alone! I was also issued with a free programme – the kind of deal that some of my travellers from Istanbul would have killed for!

The stadium was a typical Danish lower league affair – a municipal stadium meaning it had an annoying athletics track which does nothing but to hamper the view. The rest of the stadium was quite unique and gave the arena a homely feel. Behind each goal were steep grass banks with a few rows of concrete steps. These had filled up with fans drinking beer and enjoying the sunshine as if they were at a concert or simply enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the park. In one corner was a clubhouse which had a large balcony full of fans like some modern day Craven Cottage. The main stand was simply a steep few rows of terrace with a roof, but home to the Lyngby fans. Opposite the main stand was a smaller stand which was full with Brondby fans singing their English songs (“You’re not singing anymore” was a favourite, despite the fact the home fans were singing!). The ground had been split down the middle with the Brondby fans out numbering the home fans by 2 to 1. They certainly kept up the tempo during the open exchanges. It was also a good opportunity to see Brondby’s strange chocolate brown and sky blue kit – not a combination of colours you would normally put together but in this instance it worked well.

Lyngby haven’t spent many seasons in the top division but are one of the most historic teams in Denmark. Coming from a country that has a history of creating teams simply as money making machines such as FCK in the late 1980’s it is a proud record, and their championship winning season last year was one of the highlights from recent seasons. They were actually the most feared team in Denmark during the 1980’s when they won two titles, four Runners Up spots and three Danish Cups. It all went wrong for them in 2003 when they went bankrupt and had to drop down to the amatuer leagues. Their rise back to the top has been fast to say the least – in just four seasons they achieved four promotions, cumulating in the 2nd Division championship last season. However, this season not much has gone their way as they had only picked up 12 points, and relegation was assured as early as March. But they still had pride to play for, and a local derby was never going to be a boring game.

So I settled down, beer and Danish sausage captured, sunshine warming my face and watched a cracking game that saw the lead change hands on four occasions before the final whistle and a 2-2 draw. Lyngby certainly didn’t play as if they were dead and buried and if it wasn’t for some inspired goalkeeping then they could have been 3 or 4 up by halftime. All of the crowd seemed to revel in the sunshine, some more so than others as on a walk around the stadium to the gents you had to step over a few prone snoozing fans (I should invite them to Upton Park – they would be at home there!). For £17 it may have been on the expensive side for a football match but it was the perfect end to a busy day and certainly one for the groundhoppers.

About the Lyngby Stadion
As with many other stadiums in Denmark, the Lyngby Stadion is part owned by the local council and is thus classed as a municipal stadium. In other words it has an athletics track meaning that the view from many parts is not particularly good. You do however get a real homely feel from the stadium – perhaps due to the club house in the corner of the ground that is packed to the rafters during a game with spectators hanging from the balcony.

The stadium has two steep grass banks behind each goal, which do have a few rows of concrete steps. In the late spring / early summer these grass banks form impromptu picnics and there is a real relaxed feel. Depending on who the opposition will depend on the away allocation. If IF Brondby of FCK are visiting then expect half of the stadium to be given to the away fans. They are allocated the smaller stand that runs down the side of the pitch, with the home fans in the main covered stands. In each corner you will find temporary bars and sausage grills.

Programmes are handed out free as you enter the stadium, and there is a temporary shop (well clothes rail) that is pulled along the side of the pitch during the game if you feel a need to purchase a scarf at the height of excitement in the game.

Who plays there?
When Lyngby Boldklub won the Danish 2nd division last season they were promoted to the Superliga for the first time in a number of years, meaning that Copenhagen had 4 teams in the top league for the first time in over a decade. However, this status seems to be shortlived as the club have found life at the top level difficult and were relegated with games to spare in April 2008.

The club have actually won the Danish Championship on a couple of occasions – most recently in 1992 which was the end of a period of sustained success for the club when they won three Danish Cups in the 1980’s as well as their first title in 1983. In the period from 1981 until 1991 they only finished outside the top 3 on one occasion. Everything went wrong for the club in 2001 when they were made bankrupted and were relegated to amateur leagues, reforming as Lyngby Boldklub. In less than 3 seasons they had risen back to the 2nd Division and after a period of rebuilding they pushed on to the top division in 2007.

The club has had a number of famous players including Henrik Larson, Dennis Rommedahl and Marcus Allback and is reknowned still for its youth academies which unfortunately end up seeing young payer leave for FCK or IF Brondby.

How to get there
The stadium is located in the north of Copenhagen in the suburb of Lyngby. The easiest way to reach the area is via S-Tog from Norreport (which is the interchange for both metro lines) via lines B or E. The latter runs fast from Hellerup meaning that the journey time from the city centre is 15 minutes, and costs 50DKK. When you exit the station you can catch bus 182 from directly outside the entrance to the stadium (journey time 10 minutes and 20DKK), get a taxi (10 minutes and 60DKK) or walk if the weather is nice which takes 20 minutes.

Getting a ticket
Crowds in Danish football are not known to be too high, and for most games buying tickets in advanced for Lyngby is not necessary. The games that do tend to sell out are the ones versus local rivals FC Kobenhavn and occasionally IF Brondby. With relegation on the cards again in 2008 then the biggest games will be versus Hvidovre and AB. Tickets on the day of the game can be purchased from the turnstiles at either end of the stadium for 110DKK, or 175DKK for games versus the big two. Alternatively you can book tickets online at http://www.billetnet.dk and then arrange to pick them up from a number of places in the city centre.