Posted: 6/3/2009


      We are driving back to Oslo from Goteborg on the E6, which becomes a one lane road for 50 km at the Swedish end, with snarled traffic, a problem with a fire in a tunnel and an extra 90 minute delay. We listen to the radio and one of my favourite groups, The Black Sheeps, a Sami youth band from above the Arctic Circle in Kautokeino, Lappland, singing in their native Sami language.

      I am off to Ullevaal, the national stadium, for a Tippelegaen match, FC Lyn v Lillestrøm, virtually a local derby.  Second and third from the bottom of the top league. Pathetic attendance of just over 4,000 including about 1,200 from the visitors. In the press room I take a foot long, skinny Norwegian pølser, (hot dog), and also some large meat balls and pasta and watch an interesting match, with both clubs trying hard to crawl their way out of the cellar. It finishes 1-1.  LSK-Lillestrøm, in yellow -the Canaries, are coached by Henning Berg, whose illustrious career included 100 caps for Norway and 290 matches for Blackburn Rovers, 66 for Manchester United and also time at Rangers.

       The next evening travel under the Oslo Fjord by train to Drammen, a port where I see thousands of unwanted cars on the quayside. Five minutes walk and I am at the Marienlyst Stadion. I pass the magnificent Drammen Swim Hallen and lots of outdoor football fields for youngsters, all artificial turf. The tiny stadium also has artificial turf which they water before and at half time. The club was strong in the '70's and played such teams as Liverpool, Leeds United, Nantes, Arsenal and Aston Villa, in European competition, and lost 11-0 at Anfield. They won the league in 1970 and the Norwegian Cup in '69, '70, '73, '91. Four of the 70's team also played bandy for Norway and in the winter this popular sport is played at the stadium using artificial ice.

      Strømsgodset are a very strong team, as they hold up the rest of the league, in bottom place with only 2 wins and 9 goals!! Their technical director is Justin Flo who spent time at Sheffield United. I enjoyed the skills of blond Frederick Nordkvelle, who scored the TV2 goal of the season in 2008. By the way, they have a really super official programme and I don't know who produced it but well done Mediesjef, Helge Helgesen. I arrived just before kick-off and didn't meet him. The referee is Per Ivar Staberg, who is a a no nonsense type and does a good job.  No sign so far of the Chelsea/Barca referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, probably hiding from a very pissed off unhappy Russian oligarch.

     About 800 Brann Bergen fans have made the long trip from the West Coast and their team lies in mid table and the home fans try to out sing them for 90 minutes.   Strømsgodset take the lead in their navy blue jerseys-just like Scotland, from Marcus Pedersen after 26 minutes, and the fans go crazy and sense that this is their day. In the 60th minute Pedersen scores again, this time a header and despite an 85th minute goal by sub David Nielsen for Brann its a home win which takes them off the bottom and above both Lyn and Lillestrøm.

     IF you have not seen the recent video on YOU TUBE, then do so. It lasts 7 minutes and was made for and shown to the Barca players in their dressing room prior to The Champions League Final. It shows Barca action with cuts from Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR, with its award winning music by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard, finishing with a flourish from Nessun Dorma,(no one shall sleep), the aria sung by Pavarotti. It did seem to work!!