It's still sunny and hot in Norway and if you stay out too long you will be as red as a lobster. Last night at the Ullevaal in Oslo, England beat Norway for the first time in four outings at this stadium, going back to 1980.
The team will change quite a lot before England take on France in their opening match in the EURO 2012 tournament in Donetsk in a couple of weeks time, but for new coach Roy Hodgson, winning his very first match in charge is a positive step, He had Ashley Young and Andy Carroll playing up front and they cruised into a 1-0 lead after 8 minutes which they kept throughout. I was pleased with the goalkeeping of Robert Green who was perfect. The last time I saw him play for the Three Lions was in Rustenberg, South Africa against USA at the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
Steven Gerrard had taken an early lead against USA and were seemingly going to romp home, but Green's clanger meant a shock 1-1 tie. He seemed to be very confident this time. It was a very busy football day for me. I watched some of the action at the AETA youth tournament in the Oslo suburbs at the Valhall complex. Twelve of the top 16 age boys teams in the country were playing, organized by Valerenga IF. Teams such as Rosenberg, Lillestrom, Bran Bergen, Lilehammer played on two outdoor all weather surfaces.
Inside the giant Vallhall Arena at 17.00 I watched the first part of a Toppserien Womens League match V.I.F. v Røa IL a west v east Oslo derby. It was also being televised nationally. This was round 8 and the first season that Valerenga were playing in the top flight. Roa cruised to a 4-1 victory. One English girl on V.I.F. was Rebecca Angus from Middlesborough. She had spent 4 seasons and scored 44 goals in 96 matches for Kolbotn and then 1 year with Jittex in the Swedish League and 4 years at Carson Newman College in USA. Other teams in the league include Stabæk, Kattern, Kolbotn, Sandviken, Fart, Trondheim-Ørn., LSK Kvinner, Klepp, Amazon Grimstad, Arna-Bjørnar. www.vif-damefotball.no.
Back to the guys game. The last international match I attended here was Norge 3-Poland 0 in 1993 as they qualified for USA 1994. I was taking photos behind one goal and was pelted with paper cups and Drillo ice cream wrappers. In the '90's coach Egil Olsen did commercials for Drillo Ice Cream and the nickname stuck. He is now 70 and in his second spell with Norway after managing Wimbledon, Valerenga, Frederikstad and Iraq. Ullevaal has had many makeovers and is now an up to date modern arena. There is a brand new hotel and grocery stores, flower shop, liquor store, sports shop, football museum, designer clothes stores, chemist and much more and the NFF HQ. It can holed about 24,000 and there were over 21,000 in attendance including a few thousand noisy England fans with their famous band playing for 90 minutes.
Ray Carroll is no Alan Shearer but this was his first full match and he had only played 60 seconds of competitive football for The Three Lions before. He was a great target and fed off long balls and worked well with Young. The defenders looked as if they could have played all day and night without conceeding a goal. All in all an adequate display and Hodgson was the eighth England manager in a row to win his first match.