Fremad Amager 4 v 0 Svendborg (07.11.15)
13.26: Touched down at Copenhagen Airport.
13.58: Arrived at the Sundby Idrætspark Stadium for Fremad Amager’s 2pm kick off against Svendborg!
This is without doubt the quickest I have ever seen a live game of football after arriving in a foreign country! Luckily Ryan Air’s “another on time flight” jingle rang loudly through the cabin as I landed in Copenhagen. The over generous scheduling tactics deployed by Ryanair to assist there “on time” flight statistics, were further boosted my 100mph tail winds as ‘Storm Abigail’ battered the UK and headed eastwards towards Scandinavia. The combination of the two, ensured I landed 25 mins ahead of schedule, and the ‘make it in time for kick off’ window was all of a sudden wide open! Thankfully the queues at passport control and the taxi rank were minimal, and with the suburb of Amager located on the ‘airport’ side of Copenhagen, a 10min, 100Kr cab ride gets you there in no time. As you pull up outside the club’s training ground facility, which is adjacent to the stadium, you are immediately informed that this is a no nonsense football club that doesn’t mess about. It says so on the club’s sign! (see above).
Many English teams love a club motto – often ‘sexying’ things up a bit by using a touch of Latin to portray an inspiring message. Arsenal’s ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (Victory through harmony); Everton’s ‘Nil satis nisi optimum’ (Nothing but the best); Man City’s ‘Superbia in proelio’ (Pride in battle) and Sheffield Wednesday’s ‘Consilio et Animis’ (Wisdom and courage) are just a few examples. Fremad Amager on the other hand take a less philosophical approach, preferring to keep things straight and to the point – ‘No Bullshit’. The club clearly view ‘English’ as their version of our sexy Latin equivalent, and the ‘No Bullshit’ slogan pops up all over the place as a constant subliminal reminder that this club is all about….well…no bullshit!
The motto appears on touchline advertising hoardings, behind the goal next to the scoreboard, and the best bit of all, across the players training kit! No bullshit is in the DNA of this club! The no bullshit approach transcends into the fan experience too, and whilst Denmark is generally an ‘expensive’ country to visit for most tourists (the Krona bullies the Pound Sterling in these parts!), Fremad do their best to make football here an affordable and altogether community affair. 50Kr (or £5) is the flat rate entrance fee here, and for that you can choose to sit in a seat on the halfway line in the main covered stand; stand on some makeshift wooden terracing (known as the ‘sunnyside’); or if you fancy something different why not just stand on a rock in the grass with your mates behind the goal enjoying a beer!
One of the most notable things when you visit football in Denmark is that it’s widely accepted by all involved in the game that beer and football should go hand in hand. Excuse the pun, but it’s refreshing to see, and the way football should be. The sight of friends and family enjoying a few drinks together on a Saturday afternoon whilst cheering on their local team is a sight to behold, and at 30Kr (just under £3 a pint) it would be rude not to embrace the local culture whilst you’ve got the chance! If this all sounds right up your street, then you probably want to know a bit more about this Fremad Amager lot!
The ‘Sunnyside’ wooden terracing…
Well, they play in the recently regionalised Danish 2nd Division (Group 2), which is the 3rd tier of Danish football. Football at this level of the Danish league pyramid has been restructured to reduce the amount of travelling and associated costs incurred by the mainly semi professional clubs that compete at this level. The 3rd tier now has three regionalised divisions of 8 teams, and at the end of a regular 14 game season the division splits in half with the top 4 sides playing for promotion, and the bottom four sides playing to avoid relegation.
This particular fixture was the last game of the regular league season, after which the division goes into hibernation for a 4 month winter break, returning back in March to battle it out in the promotion and relegation play off groups.
Fremad Amager (who were 2nd in the table), were playing Svendborg (who were bottom of the league), and the ironic thing about this match was that the outcome of the game was largely irrelevant to the final standings. Both teams had already guaranteed their places in the promotion and relegation play off groups, and from this point onwards only points picked up against teams in the top four would count for Fremad Amager. Similarly, Svendborg’s relegation survival bid would only start once they played against the three other clubs in the bottom half. Effectively this was a dead rubber, and based on Svendborg’s performance they looked like they had already signed off for their 4-month winter holiday!
The Danish winter break is practically longer than the combined ‘off seasons’ of all 7 English clubs that qualify for Europe, and with that amount of time off it certainly gives time for the players and coaching staff to regroup, refresh and reflect on the first part of the season. In fact the Svendborg gaffer is probably planning to use the time to ‘bin off’ the current squad and pull together an entirely new team ready to keep the club in the Division come March!
Spot the Danish legend!…
Whilst on the subject of gaffer’s, you maybe surprised to know that Fremad Amager’s manager is a Danish footballing legend. John ‘Faxe’ Jensen of Euro 92 winner / final goalscorer fame currently presides over ‘The Angels’. Arsenal fans will also fondly (or perhaps not so fondly) recall John Jensen, as he was one of George Graham’s first signings when he joined the club back in 1992. Unfortunately Arsenal fans probably thought they had signed a goalscoring midfielder after his Euro 92 final performance. In the end it took the ‘Faxe’ 4 seasons to finally register a goal for the Gooners! On Danish soil though this guy is an like royalty! When your’e only the second Dane in history to score a goal in a major international tournament final, and a winning final at that, you’ll probably never have to buy another Carlsberg again!
Onto the game then, and aside from an early scare when Svendborg hit the post in the opening 15 minutes, Fremad Amager completely dominated this match and outclassed their opponents in every department. Svendborg, on this showing resembled a pub team rather than a semi professional outfit playing in the 3rd tier of a national league! Perhaps the players were preoccupied with thoughts of their respective winter holiday plans, but like all good semi professional teams Fremad Amager took full advantage of Svendborg’s fallacies and raced into a 3-0 half time lead. A swarm of second half opportunities went begging though, and ‘The Angels’ only managed to add a fourth to their tally to keep the scoreline respectable for the Svendborg holidaymakers! The defending by Svendborg on all four goals was farcical and I would encourage you to check out the video highlights below – it has to be seen to be believed! Defenders falling over at crucial moments; defenders caught massively out of position, and defenders misreading headers and clearances all feature!
The game finished 4-0 and turned out to be Fremad Amager’s biggest home win for over a year – it must have been my lucky day. But or this fan it was clearly Christmas come early!
4-0….Xmas came early for this delighted Fremad Amager fan!!….
What’s unique about football at this level is the bond between the players and fans. No pretence….no bullshit! As the final whistle went the whole squad went over and high fived the fans stood on the ‘Sunnyside’ wooden terracing. The players and coaching staff then exited the field of play by walking down the same section of pathway that acts as the fans exit from the stadium! As such players and fans mingle alike. No over the top stewarding here, just a sense of a strong community between the club and its supporters.
It would have been rude not to grab a photo with a Danish legend and Euro 92 winner on the way out wouldn’t it?