Søndag Tippeligaen at Telenor Arena. The weather has turned to showers as I jump on the No 31 bendy bus at Nationaltheatret packed with visiting Rosenborg fans from up north. We travel to the 16,000 capacity TELENOR ARENA, home of Stabæk 'De Blaa',The Blues, www.stabak.no for an interesting match. The visitors, nickname Troillongen, or The Troll Kids in the local dialect, are top of the league. www.rbk.no
They are from Trondheim and Lerkendal Stadion and are the most successful club in Norwegian history, many times champion and usually in Europe each year. After 17 matches they lead the league with 37 points, three more than second place VIP, (Valerenga) and five more than Trømso.
The last time I was in this arena was at the opening of the Fotball Expo in May last year,a couple of months after it opened for business. It is built on the site of the old Fornebu international airport, which closed in 1998, and has to have concerts, expositions and other events to pay the bills. Tina Turner, AC/DC, Andrea Borcelli, Metallica, horse shows and car shows. Rosenborg were an attractive opponent and playing indoor in wet weather helped bring in a decent crowd. I was at an FK Lyn match at Ulleval, the national stadium, on my last visit. Unfortunately this old club went out of business recently and must start again in the fourth division or lower if they reform at all.
With all the dodgy Scandinavian referees I have seen recently from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Mali (Saharan Scandinavia!!) it was nice to see a good guy in charge tonight, Terje Hauge, unassuming and usually doing a great job. I had spent a few hours in the afternoon in one of my favourite haunts in Oslo, The Palace Hotel. It is on the main street, Karl Johan Gate, between the Parliament and the Royal Palace. It is host to presidents, archbishops and more during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies each year, 300 metres away at Oslo City Hall. I popped in to relax in the comfortable armchairs, use its clean rest rooms with 3 ply toilet paper, and use the huge and free internet computer.
I watched the match in the press box high above the action with Rosenborg in all white with black trim and Stabaek in light and dark blue stripes. I had looked in at the Oncle Blaa pub where the home fans meet before each match. The announced crowd of 9.470. was twice that of any other match this weekend in the Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian leagues.
The stadium has a single tier of about 30 rows of seats and at one end a hard core of Stabaek fans were chanting, bouncing up and down and throwing streamers onto the pitch. 'Hi Ho, Hi Ho', 'Yellow Submarine' , 'Volare, Oh, Oh, Oh O', and a local version of 'Land of Hope and Glory' were some of their repertoire. www.telenorarena.no/english
The match was not that great, maybe Guatemalan Second Division quality, but there was one skillful player that I recognised in midfield. Anthony Annan, midfielder for the Ghana World Cup team, who I had seen live and on television a lot recently in South Africa. He was No 4 for the visitors, but the rest of the players were very orginary skill wise. Jon Knudsen in goal for Stabaek, played well and kept his team in the match. I had dinner with him in Lillestrom a week or so ago. He is on the Norwegian national team as were centre back Jon Inge Holland while forward Veigar Pall Gunnarson plays for Iceland.
At half-time with the score 0-0, we were treated to some foot long sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. I had a beef salad one and since there were some left over, also devoured a fresh shrimp one as well. Delicious and filling.
64 minutes Trond Olsen put Rosenborg ahead until Gunnarson equalised 20 minutes later. Almost the last kick of the match it got exciting, but it was the visitors that got the three points and extended their lead in the Tippeligen when Morten Moldskred got the winner.