Early Saturday morning just north of Aalborg, in Northern Jutland and I board The Happy Train, the Inter City Express to Kobenhavn, for THE BIG MATCH, a six hour pleasure ride.
I am in the first class quiet zone with my Eurail Pass, but itīs already standing room only, loud with laughter, card games, chatting and drinking, Danish sandwiches and crates of Tuborg gron beer, and I am offered a can by one of a group of revellers from Hjorring on the way to DANMARK v SVERIGE (Sweden) at the national stadium, Parken (the Park). This is the first time I have drunk a can of beer in Denmark. Only bottles, which are recycled an average of 36 times, were sold, and everyone carried a bottle opener. New EU regulations 3 years ago allowed cans in Denmark.
If the Danes, who are 3 points clear in UEFA group 1, can tie or win, it will take them to FIFA World Cup 2010 , their first World Cup since 1998 in France. The Swedes are on the point of elimination, and lost the away match in Stockholm on June 10th 1-0 and Portugal are close behind. It is a MUST win for coach Lars Langerback, and his experienced stars such as Hendrik Larsson and Barcaīs Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Downtown, past Tivoli, across Hans Christian Anderssen Boulevard and Town Hall Square, and The Stroget, the worldīs first and most famous traffic-free walking street(or a series of streets) is full of fans all the way down to Kongens Nytorv, a pretty tree lined circle, and Nyhavn, the legendary sailors quarter and fun place. There are thousands of fans in yellow and gold and red and white, with Viking helmets, long plaits of hair, painted faces and everyone drinking and singing.
As an entree I take the No. 14 bus down Dag Hammarskjols Allee to Parken and a 2nd Division (East) match in the afternoon at Osterbro Stadium next door. BK Skjold, one of two clubs that share the small arena, are playing B.1908 from near Kastrup Airport. About 150 fans show up and it`s 2-1 to the visitors when I leave early, and finishes 3-1 and, the home team, who play in red and white halves and back shorts like Feyenoord, stay rock bottom.
As you will have read by now, young Jacob Paulsen the midfielder from AGF Aarhus,scores his first goal for Denmark, a low shot from 25 yards out that leaves Andreas Isaksson floundering, at 78 minutes from the end of a game well refereed by Spaniard Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez who keeps the match flowing with a no-nonsense performance. It ends 1-0 and Danmark goes to SYDAFRIKA in coach Morten Olsen`s 100th match in charge of the Danish Dynamite.
The stadium, recently rebuilt and also home to FC Kobenhavn, holds 38,000 in four huge two tired very steep stands. Its a long climb up to great viewing seats, and the fans carry lots of beer sometimes 2 x 5 plastic cups in paper holders. There are frequent journeys to the many 'pissoirs' in the corridors. The Danes rock side to side singing their soccer songs and try the wave, but the one end full of gold and blue Swedes won't oblige. HEJA SVERIGE !! is their chant, but we won't be hearing it in Afrika next year.