Brønshøj v Hvidore
Tingbjerg Idrætspark / Danish 1st Division / 10th August 2013
So the next fixture pencilled into my Scandinavian football adventure was Brønshøj BK v Hvidore in the Danish First Division (2nd tier of Danish football) on the Saturday afternoon. The Friday had been spent having a tourist day around Copenhagen, before hitting the town in the night. We got drinking with some friendly Danes in the Billy Booze bar (easily the cheapest we found in Copenhagen), who approached us having seen my Swans hoody and our new friends were soon supplying us with shots. When people kept coming over to have photos with our new frends, I gave them a funny look and they were soon telling us they are in fact big reality TV Stars in Denmark from a programme about young mothers – Kevin and Camilia (I later confirmed that they were actually who they claimed to be – not that I exactly expected them to be lying to us). After drinking into the night they even agreed to come to Brønshøj with me (although they never did turn up).
I also recruited our favourite barman in Denmark, Kaj, and his pal Anders to come to the game, but sadly they remembered that they had a fashion show to go to as it was fashion week in Copenhagen. On that note I must mention Kaj’s bar – the City Pub – as being my favourite in Copenhagen; it certainly sold the best tasting Tuborg in the city and at a decent price (by Copenhagen standards). I highly recommend it!
After another great night in the Danish capital, the next morning it was time to work out how to get to Brønshøj. I was riding solo today after Tom had decided that he was going to pass on a trip to Brønshøj to save his kroner for our trip to FC Nordsjaelland the next day. I discovered the day before that bus 10 headed towards Brønshøj, located on the outskirts of Copenhagen, and on finding the bus stop in the centre of Copenhagen near Copenhagen Town Hall I was soon on my way.
Unfortunately for me, the number 10 bus wasn’t heading straight to Brønshøj, but instead the bus took me on a tour of the rather barren industrial area south of Copenhagen, before eventually heading back up north towards Brønshøj. After about 40 minutes of my bus journey, my Google Maps App was telling me that I was somewhere near the town centre of Brønshøj and I was happy to dismount the bus as I was beginning to feel a bit groggy as last night’s beer slowly came back to haunt me. The fresh air once getting off the bus was very welcome!
There appeared to be very little on the main high street of Brønshøj apart from a couple of small shops and two sports shops, so I turned left down a rather picturesque looking street and towards what appeared to be a large park. To enter the park I had to walk through what appeared to be a hedged maze, but what turned out to be an idyllic enclosed neighbourhood; I’ve since learnt from watching the hit Danish crime drama, The Killing, that these communities are known as ‘allotments’ and are like the British equivalent of summer houses. It really was very pleasant and I later learned that they are scattered all over Denmark.
After 20 minutes of walking around the huge park of Brønshøj, I began to question whether I was heading in the right direction towards Brønshøj’s ground; however, just as I was losing hope I spotted the gargantuan floodlights of Tingbjerg Idrætspark towering over the park and shortly before 13:30 I found myself outside the ground. I was a bit worried that I had arrived too early as I found the area and the car park around the ground remarkably silent. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait around in the car park by myself as I found a building behind the ground housing several rooms, changing rooms and more importantly a clubhouse with several home fans, adorned in the club’s yellow and black stripes, drinking outside of it.
The Brønshøj BK clubhouse was large room with plenty of long tables with one table reserved for a group of people who I’m assuming were club members or something along those lines. More impressively for me was the fact that bottles of beer were on sale at the bar for a jaw-dropping 18kr! I’d already spent three days drinking in Copenhagen and even I had learnt by now that this was a ridiculously cheap price for Denmark (about £2 a bottle – and the Carlsberg is much nicer and stronger here in its native nation of Denmark). I thought I would take advantage of the cheap beer in the clubhouse, whilst I had the chance. On another note of interest the barman serving me even informed that he was a Crystal Palace fan as his brother was former Eagles player Borge Thorup, who had also played for Clyde, Morton and Hamilton in Scotland, as well as Brønshøj. How very random!
A few Brønshøj fans had approached me about the Swansea City jacket I was wearing and to declare their admiration for the club (and Danish hero Michael Laudrup of course) and I have to say the whole fanbase struck me as a very friendly group. After enjoying a couple of bottles of Carlsberg and with the time approaching 14:30 I decided to exit the clubhouse and go and explore the ground itself.
Entry into the ground cost 70kr and I have to say what a ground it is. For someone who goes to a lot of non-league football in the UK, it was like your perfect ground. The ground only has one proper stand, which can hold around 500 fans; the one side of the stand seemed to be for the fans who just wanted to sit down and enjoy the game, whilst the other side of the stand housed the louder, more vocal fans: Brønshøj’s Drunken Army as they are known (and described by Wikipedia as “a nominally left-wing and anti-racist firm”). Behind the far goal is one other stand, but it humble to say the least with it being more like a large wooden bench.
Other features of the ground are those huge floodlights mentioned earlier, the electronic scoreboard in the corner by the turnstiles and a small scaffold tower on the halfway line, which I assumed was home to TV cameras, gantry etc. However, unsurprisingly my favourite feature of the ground were the bars scattered around the ground. On entering through the turnstiles I was greeted by a large bar area in the corner of the ground, complete with food outlet and small tables pitch side to enjoy your food/drinks on whilst watching the game. Located in the next corner is another small beer hut as well as there being another bar located down the other side of the stand. There was certainly no shortage of places to go if you wanted a beer! My first stop was to the bar next to me on my entry and although a pint of Carlsberg was slightly more expensive here than in the clubhouse, it was still a bargain 24kr!
After enjoying a drink with the locals, buying myself a yellow and black Brønshøj scarf from the little hut selling merchandise next to the bar and of course having my photo with the club mascot – a wasp (Brønshøj are nicknamed ‘Hvepsene’ – the Wasps – obviously because of their colours), I headed towards the sea of flags that was coming from the stand and join the loud Brønshøj fans, who were already causing a racket with their drum.
As the teams came out, the yellow and black flags were waved frantically to welcome the side out onto the pitch. The singing and the drum banging were now in full swing, so I decided to head up to the small standing balcony at the back of the stand to get a better view of everything. It was up here I first met Lars, a Brønshøj fan since he was 7 and now into his 50s, who would prove to be a great ally for my day at Tingbjerg Idrætspark, providing me with plenty of info about the club as well as generally being very good company.
Despite Hvidore (the former club of Peter Schmeichel I should add) having a great chance to take the lead in the opening, Brønshøj started the game the better team and dominated most of the first half. Eventually they took the lead on the 29th minute when Casper Henningsen let rip with a 25 yard screamer which flew past the Hvidore goalie, who was at full stretch, into the far corner. Brønshøj fans celebrated as you would expect with the drum bashing, chants and singing now louder than ever. With the team 1-0 up, I decided to go for a wander of the rest of the ground (and obviously get another beer).
I can’t overstate how friendly Brønshøj fans are with many stopping to chat to me about Swansea City and Laudrup. I also stopped to talk to a group of fans as one of the fans had a Liverpool polo shirt on, whilst his pal had an old Leeds United away shirt on (that blue and yellow Strongbow one from the O’Leary era). My chat with my new pals Erik, Paul and Thomas went on for so long that we were still chatting and drinking behind the dugouts by the time the second half kicked off.
It was from behind the dugout that I got to truly witness the ball of energy that is Brønshøj manager Bo Henriksen, a former player on our shores with Kidderminster and briefly at Bristol Rovers. One of my Danish friends shouted over to Bo about me being from the UK and the fact I was writing a blog about Brønshøj; Bo gave a little smile and cheeky pose for a photo before returning to screaming at his players and gesticulating on the touchline – think a Danish Paolo DI Canio-esque figure.
He certainly had a lot more to be angry with during the second half as Hvidore scored two quick fire goals around the hour mark to make it 2-1. It seemed I timed my walking through the pocket of Hvidore fans in the corner of the ground to perfection, as they scored their second goal almost as soon I began making my way through them; obviously, I didn’t join the away fans in their celebrations – I’d pledged allegiance to Brønshøj for the day.
Eventually, I completed my lap of the ground after going past the brilliantly shoddy wooden stand and (after getting another beer – all these bars scattered around is a great idea) I headed back up to the standing area at the back of the main stand where I found Lars still cheering on his beloved Brønshøj. I should add here that the Brønshøj fans were still in superb voice despite their team struggling on the pitch and finding themselves 2-1 down.
It was only to get worse for Brønshøj as they conceded a very blatant penalty after the Brønshøj defence brought down a Hvidore player in the box. The penalty was confidently converted to make it 3-1 to Hvidore with just over 5 minutes left. The volume went up again, yet it was not the Hvidore fans making all the noise, but the Brønshøj fans that continued to rapturously cheer their team on – I think a lot of clubs in the UK could learn from the Brønshøj fans’ attitude. It really was great to see fans backing their team from the 1st to the 90th minute, no matter what was happening on the field. When I mentioned to Lars that many clubs in the UK, especially in the higher divisions, would be booing their teams by now he looked at me bemused and questioned why on Earth would they do that. I stated that that was a very good question indeed.
The final whistle blew and a disappointing 3-1 loss for the home team was confirmed. On the final whistle blowing Lars invited me to join him down to the front of the stands; when I asked him why, he explained that it is tradition for the players to come over and shake the hands of the fans. Class! And just as Lars said, soon enough every player came over and thanked the fans. Another classy act.
I’d had a great time within Tingbjerg Idrætspark, but now it was time for me and Lars to walk back to the clubhouse for some post match Carlsberg. Lars shot off shortly after, but I was joined by Thomas who I’d met earlier and as a guest of Denmark Thomas (middle name Cruyff after the great Dutchman) insisted on buying my drinks for me. Top man! In return I offered Thomas information and advice on certain football grounds around our country, as it turned out that Thomas likes trips over to England to watch some football and he’d been eyeing up a trip to Millwall v Leeds – a told him he’d have great fun at that game!
Whilst we were chatting away, Bo Henriksen came strutting through the clubhouse and I could not resist asking for a photo with the man, after being so impressed with his energy on the touchline. He kindly agreed and he seemed a really good guy and much calmer than the man I’d witnessed going mad in the dugout earlier.
Me and Thomas remained in the clubhouse until the bar closed, which was our cue to exit. Thomas also informed me that I’d made a mistake in getting the number 10 bus and that the number 2A bus would take me directly back into Copenhagen on a much quicker route. Thomas escorted me to the bus stop, which had a few other Brønshøj fans also waiting for the bus, before saying goodbye and riding home on his bike (everyone rides a bike in Copenhagen it seems).
A great day at Brønshøj BK and their fans are a credit to their club. I hope they have a good season in the First Division and I wish the team and their great fans well for the future. Next up on my Danish travels: FC Nordsjaelland.
Highlights: cheap beer, cool ground, bars in the ground, the Brønshøj fans were superb and very friendly, the Brønshøj goal was a great goal, Bo Henriksen on the touchline.
Low Points: the bus journey there, Brønshøj’s 2nd half performance.