FC Nordsjaelland v FC Copenhagen
Farum Park / Danish Superliga / 11th August 2013
It was Sunday afternoon and the last day of our Scandinavian adventure, which had so far led us to Malmö FF (to watch the mighty Swans take the Swedish team on in the Europa League) and Brønshøj BK. However, there was still one last stop on our football travels: FC Nordsjaelland – located in a small town called Farum just north west of Copenhagen. The resident club had begun life as Farum Boldklub after a merger between two local clubs Farum IK and Stavnsholt BK in 1991. Following a meteoric rise from the 4th tier of Danish football all the way to a 3rd place finish in 2002/03, which saw Farum BK qualify for the UEFA Cup for the following year, the club changed their name to the current guise of FC Nordsjaelland for their first foray into Europe in 2003,
After spending our afternoon in central Copenhagen, enjoying one last drink in the Dubliner, the place we had partied with fellow Swansea fans on arriving in Copenhagen on the Wednesday night, it was time to head to Copenhagen Central station to catch the train to Farum.
When we arrived at the station around 4pm, the place was already buzzing with FC Copenhagen fans, who were also preparing to take the trip to Farum as FC Nordsjaelland’s opponents for the day. After working out where our platform was and purchasing our tickets we were soon on the train towards the end of the line at Farum; 30-40 minutes later we pulled into Farum station.
Early impressions were that there wasn’t much going on in the quiet, yet pleasant town of Farum – it was like the town had gone into hibernation; that was until another train arrived into the station shortly after ours which brought with it a white wave of Copenhagen’s lively fans. It was shortly after the arrival of the Copenhagen fans we met up with one of their fans Kristoffer; Kris had arranged to meet us before the game after I posted about my Scandinavian trip on the European Football Weekends Facebook page (incidentally the original European Football Weekends website was a big influence on me wanting to write about my football travels in the first place). Kris had originally tried to persuade me to join him in the away end at FC Nordsjaelland’s Farum Park, promising me a more raucouos atmosphere with the Copenhagen fans, whilst berating the atmosphere created by the home fans in the process, but to join the away fans would have involved getting an away card, something I couldn’t really be bothered dealing with. Instead we agreed to meet before the game and head to the Copenhagen fanzone for a while before kick off. As he said he would be, we found Kris outside the “Seven Eleven” (Denmark’s answer to Spar I guess, but much better) with his other FCK pals Christian and Alex.
After a detour to the local Netto to stock up on beers for the fanzone, we began the short 10 minute walk to Farum Park. I commented to Kris, a resident of Farum, that the small town seemed very quiet and he confirmed to me that there is very little in Farum, including a distinct lack of pubs. It seemed like a nice, quaint place to live though.
Soon enough the ground came into sight and after veering down a lane near the stadium we found the FC Copenhagen fanzone, where I was greeted by one of the most amazing sights I’ve seen in football: in front of me was a small football pitch surrounded by the away fans with a match going on between a group of Copenhagen fans and the police! Yes, a police vs. away fans match! Imagine that in this country. The police were even still in all their uniform complete with guns. We found a patch of grass to sit down on and enjoy our beers and Kris was soon informing me that the police vs. fans game had slowly become a tradition before the club’s away game at FC Nordsjaelland. He went on to explain that in Denmark’s police force employ what are called (loosely translated) “friendly police officers” who’s sole purpose is (unsurprisngly) to be friendly with football fans and to integrate themselves with the fans to create a more harmonious atmosphere between the fans and the authorities. Once again, I couldn’t help thinking that Denmark had just got football so right. It was amazing seeing the police mingle so happily with away fans, who were freely drinking lots of beer around them and pissing unashamedly against the surrounding perimeter fence in view of the police (or ‘cheese’ as they are known colloquially in Denmark, like our equivalent of ‘pigs’; the police seemed to take a humorous view of the nickname though, as they had a large picture of a piece of cheese emblazoned on the back of their goals).
The time we spent in the Copenhagen fanzone was very enjoyable, but we decided as we’d be in the home end for today’s game, we’d better go and sample the FC Nordsjaelland fanzone as well. We said our goodbyes to our FCK pals, thanked them for their company and began our walk around to the home end of the ground. As we were walking around the ground, I did begin to think that it wasn’t the most interesting looking of grounds, but certainly nice enough for a modern ground without being too radical. The ground also had a very impressive set of leaning and quite imposing floodlights and as you may have gathered if you have read any other of my blogs, I do love a good set of floodlights! The stadium was built in 1999 , can hold just over 10,000 fans and has an artificial pitch – the first of its kind in the Danish Superliga. As you would expect with a modern ground it has the usual variety of modern stadium luxuries, yet Farum Park also hosts a 48 room hotel and a fitness center. Thanks to FC Nordsjaelland’s recent 2011-12 league title, the club qualified for the Champions League, but were forced to play their home ties against teams such as Chelsea and Juventus at Parken in Copenhagen – the home of the Danish national team and today’s opponents, FC Copenhagen. We’d actually visited Parken on our ‘tourist day’ on Friday, although obviously not seen any football there; in fact, Roger Waters was preparing to perform there that weekend.
We made it to the FC Nordsjaelland fanzone which consisted of a few tables and chairs, a barbecue and, most importantly, a portable bar. However, before hitting the beer, we decided to visit the club shop which was directly opposite the bar. Just as I had done at Brønshøj the day before, I departed the FCN club shop with a scarf of the home team’s colours of red and gold for 100kr.
With beers and sausage bought, we found ourselves a place to sit just outside the club shop, where we could enjoy the now glorious Farum sunshine. We soon got chatting to a FCN fan, who turned out to be Scottish and actually a Celtic fan. Scott, the Scot, is now a resident of Denmark and is a season ticket holder at Farum Park and today he had his son in tow with him and some of his pals. Scott began to quote to me some of the prices at Farum Park and they really were incredibly cheap. For his season ticket he paid just £120, whilst all under 8s got into the game for free and even children slightly older children got in very cheap. Our tickets had cost £15 each and I was even told that this is considered quite steep for Danish football prices – incredible! I should also give a shout out here to the FC Nordsjaelland Twitter account (@FCNordsjaelland) who were very helpful in helping me purchase my tickets for the game – top club Twitter account! After chatting with Scott for a while we said farewell to him as he headed into the ground, whilst we decided to get one more drink in the sunshine of the fanzone (which was a bit like a car park to be honest), before heading into Farum Park.
On walking through the turnstiles, scanning our printed PDF as tickets, we were greeted with another bar (more beer please!) and the site of several children playing FIFA 13 on the game consoles provided on this small concourse. I’ll be honest and admit that I was quite annoyed with the FIFA-hogging kids as I wanted a go. Of course, unlike over here, with our beers bought we headed up into the stands. I should also add that the club were giving away (admittedly very small) programmes for free for those who are interested in programme collecting.
The seats! Wow! It’s universally known by anyone that travels around the UK watching football that Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has the most comfortable seats around; well, FC Nordsjaelland may well pip the North London club – the seats even lean back slightly for that proper relaxed feel. However, me and Tom were not here for the seats and instead we headed for the standing terrace located in the middle of the North Stand of Farum Park (when I translated the webpage into English when buying my tickets, this stand was literally translated into English as ‘the Atmosphere Tribune’). Earlier, Kris had warned me that FC Nordsjaelland are known for having a ‘nice’ set of fans thanks to them being a family club and not to expect too much of an atmosphere ; however, from our perch on the standing terrace they were certainly loud enough for us to have a good time, even if the rest of the ground was rather sedate.
Farum Park is, unsurprisingly for a modern ground, an enclosed stadium with all the stands about the same height and seating stands running down both sides of the pitch and in the South Stand, which was housing the FC Copenhagen fans for today’s game. Just as Kris had said, the away fans were very loud and boisterous. With the teams walking out onto the pitch the FC Copenhagen pulled out their flares and soon smoke was bellowing from the away end with the FCK fans also simultaneous bouncing along with their chanting. Not that the FC Nordsjaelland were shrinking violets, as their fans were suitably making a lot of noise (at least on the standing terrace where we were standing) with their drum being banged furiously by the young lad in front us and a young lad bellowing out war cries to the fans on his megaphone.
For the first half I found myself next to a FCN wearing a ‘V. Persie’ United shirt who was very good in translating the Danish chants into English for me, as well as informing me what had happened in the Community Shield game between United and WIgan, a game we had missed on our travels.
FC Copenhagen had the better of the opening exchanges and after 17 minutes the away team had taken the lead, after Rurik Gislason controlled a ball over the top brilliantly, before driving the ball home from an acute angle. Cue wild celebrations amongst the away fans.
The goal seemed to wake up FCN and after a series of decent chances, Morten Nordstrand ran onto a misjudged back pass from the Copenhagen defence leaving the away team’s goalie no chance but to bring down the on rushing Nordstrand. Definite penalty (well at least I thought – on rewatching the highlights the goalie may have had a touch on the ball). Martin Vingaard, formerly of FC Copenhagen, stepped up to make it 1-1 and it was now the Nordsjaelland fans who were in full voice. It was also then that I noticed an unusual banner: a penis. I was a bit mythed why it was there, but I gather that they were gesturing it towards the FCK flag and making it appear as if the lion on the Copenhagen badge was performing oral sex (mimicking Zenith St. Petersburg’s fans performing a similar stunt a few months previous in the Russian League).
Half-time: FC Nordsjaelland 1-1 FC Copenhagen. A decent half of football with a few chances for both teams,
At half-time we headed back down to the area underneath the stand (those pesky kids were still not budging from FIFA) for a beer top up and then back up into the stand. It was here that I noticed the FC Nordsjaelland drum was unmanned, so I could not resist having a go; sadly, I did not begin any sort of rapturous chanting from it – the young lads who had played the drum throughout the game clearly had better rhythm than me.
As usual I had my now traditional ‘stadium-in-the-background-double-thumbs-up’ photo after asking a FCN to take my photo; yet on thanking the fan, I noticed a distinctively un-Danish accent replying to me – in fact, it sounded English. On further questioning we learnt that this was Olly, a Watford fan (who was still chuffed with his club’s 6-1 win over Bournemouth the day before), who had just recently moved to Copenhagen and who like us wanted to sample some Danish Superliga action. It was also Olly who explained the ‘symbology’ of the penis banner to me, having been aware of the Zenith stunt months earlier.
The second half kicked off and once again the away team started the better. It took just 15 minutes into the second half for Copenhagen to earn the second penalty of the game after a cross into the box was adjudged to have been handballed by Ivan Runje. Up stepped Thomas Kristensen to score the 2nd penalty of the game and to make it 2-1 to FC Copenhagen.
As FC Nordsjaelland began to push for an equaliser, we befriended two of their fans, Christoffer and Thomas, who led us through the home team’s songs. A particular favourite of mine and Tom’s was the repeated chant of “Welcome to Farum Park”; just as we were commenting on what a lovely and pleasant chant it was the fans then started repeatedly singing the second line to the chant: “This is where you die!” How charming.
I decided I wanted another beer, so I began to make my way back down to the concourse only to spot a bar in the corner of the stand – brilliant! You could literally walk across the stand to the bar whilst still watching the game and even watch the game from the bar. Once again, Danish football just seemed to have got things right.
FC Nordsjaelland were plugging away, but there was a sense that they were not really going anywhere. With the time ticking over into the last 10 minutes I began to realise that my Scandinavian football adventure was coming to a close – it had been a blast. Then in the 82nd minute IT happened. Something that was worth the thousands of kroner that I had spent over the past 5 days by itself.
A long ball from about 35 yards out was curled towards the Copenhagen box; from nowhere Nordstrand burst into the box and he looked like he would have to attempt an awkward header to direct the ball goalwards. However, what came was much more magical. Nordstrand twistied his body and launched his body gracefully into the air and performed the most textbook of overhead kicks. The ball rocketed into the net. BOOM! The place went crazy – myself included. I celebrated that equaliser like I would any Swansea City goal. I found myself running around the stand hugging random people, spilling my beer and repeatedly screaming “What a fucking goal! What a fucking goal!” I’ve witnessed a lot of live goals over my football viewing years, but I’m rather devoid of seeing many truly magnificent goals in the flesh when I considered my “games to amazing goals ratio”. This was definitely my favourite goal I’ve ever seen live. I’m still repeatedly talking excitedly about (as you can probably tell from how much I’ve already written about it in this blog). Fortunately, FC Nordsjaelland were kind enough to repeatedly show Nordstrand’s wonder goal on the big screens, which led to even more purring from the home fans.
Now the FC Nordsjaelland were in full party mood with a raucous rendition of ‘Dale Cavese’, also a favourite chant amongst Swansea fans, as well as fans even crowd surfing. I’d had my inklings earlier in the game, but I was now well and truly loving FC Nordsjaelland; the goal (and probably all the beer) had clearly helped push me towards my newfound fandom for my now favourite Danish club and for the last 10 minutes I could be found shouting the home team on for a equaliser and swinging my scarf around my head with the other Nordsjaelland ‘ultras’.
The last ten minutes was never going to live up to that goal and the game ebbed out and eventually finished 2-2. A decent game all round, but…THAT goal. Well, I’ll shut up about it now.
Christoffer and Thomas invited us to join them for a drink after the game and we thought it’d be rude not to oblige. Like earlier, our companions took us to another Netto to pick up drink, where Christoffer amusingly dropped a bottle of beer on the floor, smashing it all over the shop floor, before heading to a nearby pub (which I’ve forgotten the name of). When I mentioned to Thomas that you surely can’t drink beer from a supermarket in the beer garden of a pub; he just shrugged his shoulders and stated that nobody really cared. Great stuff!
After a couple of beers me and Tom decided we would go back to Copenhagen to say goodbye to the city properly and we wished our pals Chrisoffer and Thomas farewell – see you at Farum Park soon in the near future!
The lads had given us directions back to the station, but we soon realised we had gone wrong somewhere. Don’t ask me how, but soon me and Tom found ourselves in the midst of some woods. It was literally pitch black and I had to get the flashlight on my phone to show the way; it was like something from a horror film – there was even an eery looking lake. With me and Tom both convincing ourselves that it was perfectly normal to walk through the Danish woods in the middle of the night by ourselves and that nothing could possibly go wrong, we decided to head towards any sort of light to escape our surroundings. Eventually a light led us to a busy road which ran alongside the train station. We survived the haunted Danish woods! (They were probably not haunted but we’ll pretend they were for dramatic effect.)
The ticket machine at Farum station just would not work and after the mishap in Malmo where we got thrown off the train in the middle of nowhere in Sweden, I was not boarding a train without a ticket. I approached the driver and explained my predicament to which he replied:
“Just get on. Don’t worry about it”
When I explained what had happened to me in Malmo, he merely told me that if someone came along asking for tickets to just tell them that we were the driver’s family – I’m not sure it was the most well thought out plan by the driver, us being Welsh and him being Danish and all that, but I was happy to take a freebie. What a train driver!
Soon enough we found ourselves back in our favourite Copenhagen pub, the City Pub, reflecting on what an enjoyable day we had had at Farum Park. Safe to say that FC Nordsjaelland are now my adopted Danish club (sorry Bronshoj) even though I’ve been repeatedly told that they are the uncool team to me support in Denmark (which in my eyes surely makes them the cool team to support now). But definitely the highlight of the day – and the whole trip to Denmark and Sweden – was that Nordstrand goal. Joyous stuff.
Here is Nordstrand’s wonder goal in all of its YouTube glory if you haven’t seen it yet.
See you again soon Denmark. It’s been fun.
Highlights: meeting up with the Copenhagen fans and spending time in their fanzone (police vs fans game!), standing terrace at Farum Park, cheap tickets (although apparently not for Danish football), beer in the stands, bar in the stands, Nordstrand’s wonder goal!
Low Points: the FCN fanzone wasn’t quite as fun as the Copenhagen away fanzone, getting lost in the bloody woods!