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 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

Musen der brølede (The mouse that roared)

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

Cuptastic in DK

The FA Cup despite all the efforts of the governing body to sell the naming rights, allow the police to dictate when matches can be played and deciding to penalise fans through the pocket at the semi final stage, still has a magical image. Last month we was at Brimsdown Rovers as they played in the Preliminary Round of this year’s long road to the final in May at Wembley. It is still the one cup competition that clubs on the whole take seriously and crowds are consequently good throughout the rounds.

But overseas most cup competitions are seen as a side show to the league. In Italy, Juventus often played their games during the working day in front of crowds of less than 500, often fielding a team that would fail to make their reserve squad for a league game. In Germany, despite the changes made in making it more competitive by drawing the higher placed team away, demand rarely exceeds supply. Last week we saw at the Swedish Cup Semi-Final in Helsingborgs that the attendance of 4,000 was less than a third of the capacity of the ground for a gain against one of the biggest teams in the league and just over an hour away by train. This would be the equivalant of a crowd of 12,000 at Upton Park or 25,000 at Old Trafford.

This week was the third round of the Danish Cup – the Ekstra Bladet to give it is proper name, and the round where the Superliga teams come into the game. Again, using the German principal the higher placed teams were drawn away, meaning the likes of FCK were drawn away to Elite 3000 of Helsingor who play some four levels (which is the equivalant of Chelsea playing Averley). The game that caught my eye was FB v Vejle. why did it catch my eye? It was near Carlsberg where I had a meeting, it was on the way to the airport and of course it was another ground in Copenhagen that I had not been to.

The game had to kick off at 4.30pm at Frederiksberg stadion, a two minutes walk from the fantastically named Peter Bangs Weg, as it had no floodlights. In fact it is a big Athletics stadium with an old wooden stand on one side and a tuck shop like wooden hut on the far side. The club had allowed school children in free so the atmosphere was very Hockey International, complete with streamers and jelly and ice cream.

FB, or Frederiksberg Boldklub are nearly 100 years old and were one of the clubs that were merged to form the “super club” of FC Copenhagen back in the 1980’s. And at this point I have to admit defeat. I could not find any further information in English about them (there was very little in Danish either) so all I can say is that they played in a natty yellow and black number and were currently in the Danmarksserien Pulje 1 league along with the likes of Nexo Bornholm, GVI, Dollefjelde Musse and B1921 (not to be confused with B1903 of course).

Vejle were a Superliga club last year, losing their place in the final weeks of the season. They hail from Jutland – that bit of Denmark that is stuck on the top of Germany. They have won the league on six occasions, most notably in 1983 when they were inspired by Allan Simonsen, fresh from his stint at The Valley with Charlton Athletic. That was their last title and the highpoint since has been the opening of the Vejle Stadion.

FB 0 Vejle BK 4 – Frederiksberg IP – Wednesday 24th September 2009

I wish I had brought my coat

I wish I had brought my coat

60 Danish Kroner got me in, and 65 Danish Kroner got me a beer and I took a bench (as in a park bench) behind the goal and settled down to watch the game from a distance. And do you know, it wasn’t bad. Sure you could see the difference in league status but both teams went for it from the first whistle. Vejle played with three up front and went past the defenders at will, trying the old Sunday league tactic of trying to shoot from 30 yards to score the perfect goal. It took 14 minutes for the deadlock to be broken with the impressive Edu Silva (could be two Arsenal players!) heading in unmarked in the box.

They away team continued to pass the ball around, and somehow did not manage to score a second. However in the second half they stepped up a gear with the impressive Ibrahim Salou pulling all the strings going forward. It was 2-0 six minutes after the break after a great drive in from the edge of the box (sorry I was distracted at this point by a sausage), and a third in the 71st minute when Salou got his reward when he headed home.

One of the home fans (in a crowd of around 300) spent the whole of the second half running up and down the edge of the pitch berating the players for their lack of effort (see my Danish lessons are working) and threw his baseball cap at the dugout in disgust. The wind took said cap and it landed firmly in the back of the head of the fourth official. He looked round to see who the culprit was but our friend had been route marched out of the ground by two stewards. A fourth came in injury time when Valentino Lai scored from close range, giving the score line a fair reflection.

A very pleasant late afternoon in anyones book, and I was off to the airport, awaiting the draw for the next round, hoping to see a Bronshoj or Valby home game to tick off my final grounds in Copenhagen….Is that a bit sad? Of course not…Where there’s beer and sausages surely any man is at home!

The magic of the FA Cup – Danish style

With the long winter closing in in Copenhagen, and the unfriendly football association deciding to play all of the league games on weekends (shame on you!), a rare an unexpected treat was served up as the Danish Cup was scheduled to be played in the last week of October. Obviously the cup will be won again by FCK, as it is most years, but this season the fairy tale story was from a tiny team based in the suburbs of Copenhagen called FC Greve.

Now, not being a person to miss such a historic event, I hastily arranged a couple of meetings on Wednesday 31st October on a routine trip to the office in Copenhagen, and planned to take in their historic game against Skive in the last 16 of the cup. The game was due to be played at 2pm as the club’s small stadium did not have any floodlights – in fact it did not have much of anything!

Greve is located a 15 minute train ride out of Copenhagen, in the tidy suburbs and close to the main suburban station of Hundige (a 15 minute train ride from central station on the S-Torg system towards Mitby. The place is tiny – exit the station through a small shopping centre and you are then on the main road out of Copenhagen. Whilst it was a tad chilly, it seemed pointless to wait for a bus so a 5 minute walk found the stadium.

Well, we say stadium but it was actually an athletics track, with a fence around the pitch, and a raise terrace of 3 steps which ran 1/2 way along the side of the stand – officially the stadium has a capacity of 7,000 but it it had more than 200 it would run into problems. But the locals were out in force, and at least one local school had given the kids the afternoon off to cheer on their team – albeit wearing their Chelsea, Liverpool and Bradford City shirts!

The great thing though about the stand was the club house – perched on a raised piece of land in the corner of the pitch, with a BBQ on the go and as much draft Carlsberg as you wanted…….With the football taking place a mile away (or so it seemed with the athletics track) it made a pleasant change to stand and drink. Meanwhile on the pitch there was no sign of a giant killing as 5th division Greve huffed and puffed against a team called Skive who were from 2 divisions above. A goal in each half was enough for the visitors, and another great cup dream fell into tatters.

Certainly one for the serious ground hoppers only!

FC GREVE – Greve Idraets Center – 7,000 Capacity
About Greve Idraets Center Stadium
Located in one of the pleasant suburbs of south west Copenhagen, Greve Idraets Center is a very basic affair. Basically it is an athletics ground with a small terrace that runs down one side of the pitch. The ground does not have any cover, or floodlights so games tend to be played during daylight hours only.

The ground has an excellent bar and terrace in the corner of the track where most of the fans tend to congregate with a beer and a sausage to watch the game from a slightly elevated position. Apart from this, the ground is very basic but in the summer months is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Who plays there?
The small and homely Greve Idraers Center is home to Greve Fodbold club who currently play in the Danish 5th Division. They have never hit the heights of some of the more illustrious neighbours in Copenhagen. They reached this level by winning the Copenhagen regional league in 2006.

How to get there
The stadium is located a 20 minute train ride away from Copenhagen main stadium on S-Tog line E. Trains also run from the Norreport and Oosteport on the line to Koge every 10 minutes. Alight at Greve station where you can either get a local 225 or 600S bus to the stadium or a 10 minute walk. If you chose the latter, watch through the shopping centre and turn right onto the main road. Cross the small roundabout and the ground will be on your left after 7 or 8 minutes.

Getting a ticket
There is no such thing as advanced tickets at Greve. Simply turn up on the day and pay your 600Dkr to enter the ground – you can then either stand on the small terrace or at the outside bar.