Brøndby IF – Viborg FF

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Brøndby Stadion, Brøndby

Visited 07/05/2008
SAS Ligaen: Brøndby IF – Viborg FF 1-1
Attendance: 11.320

Brøndby IF, in full Brøndby Idræts Forening, is probably the most famous Danish football club outside of the national boundaries. Besides arch rival FC København and the smaller Lyngby BK, the club is one of the three metropolitan representatives on the highest Danish football level. A true Tradition Club “the pride in Yellow and blue” is not, for that the association from the southern periphery of Copenhagen is with its 44 years just a little too young. The club only made its first appearance at the highest level in 1982, but since then she has barely left the top of the Danish football. The year 1985 was a pivotal year for the club: Brøndby IF became not only the first Danish fully professional club, it could also add its first League Title to the, then still empty, trophy room. After this another 9 titles and 6 cups (of which the last one was just a week ago) would follow. In Europe the team reached its zenith in 1991 when they reached the semifinals of the UEFA Cup tournament. Since getting the Danish double in 2005, things have been a less successful. The last notable win until last week was winning of the Royal League, the new Scandinavian Superliga, in 2007. The Danish Cup win from last week hopefully connects the proud Brøndby club again with the successes of yesteryear.

 

The quickest way to get to Brøndby from the centre of the Copenhagen by public transport is the “S-Tog”. About fifteen minutes after we stepped on this suburb train in the Central Station of Copenhagen we arrive in Glostrup.
At the information desk of the Danish railways we understood that we would be able to see the location of the stadium from the platform in Glostrup but nothing is less true.

A young couple points us the way to the arena between the boring rows of residential houses. After walking 20 minutes and still not finding a stadium, we fear we might have taken a wrong turn somewhere. We again ask a local for advice and he reassures us. We are indeed at a stone’s throw from the stadium, however a small park obscures it from our field of vision.During the early years of the club, the Yellow Blue home was nothing more than a pitch with a few rows of standing space.

 

The story goes that the Brøndby-“stadium” in 60s and the early 70s of last century would have been only 50 cm high.The stadium started to grow along with the club and after a first grandstand and light masts in 1978, followed a second covered grandstand 4 years later. After this another 10 years went by before something resembling a stand was erected behind both goals. Its final form the stadium got around the turn of the century after an investment of converted about 29 million euro. The current capacity varies according to the source but is somewhere around 30,000 (mainly) seats.The Brøndby stadium is beautiful but looks rather plain on the outside. The original floodlights were replaced by spotlights in the roof. A trend that unfortunately continues throughout Europe.

The mirrored façade of the main stand gives a business impression. It contains the entrance for the players as well as those for the press, VIPs and guests. The beautiful, and today busy, Fanshop is also in the main building. Tonight, as an exception due to the Cup win of last week, club shirts are also sold in front of the Fanshop.The stands behind both goals remain without a facade. Since the sale of single tickets is done from a few containers next to the stadium, they may be able to place the counters under these stands in the future? The current primitive installations are sharply opposed to the neat and modern whole of the rest of the complex. It is striking how, during the construction of modern stadiums, architects often seem to forget the counters. Half a year ago, I noticed the same thing in Duisburg: Similar stadium, same containers…The stands behind both goals are identical.

Behind the goal on the right (seen from the side of the main stand) are the stands for the kop. The entrance to this tribune is brightened with a list of Danish Brøndby-internationals. Between the – yet impressive – list we find some very famous names like Kim Vilfort, Michael Laudrup and of course Peter Schmeichel.

 

Behind the stand along the long side there is a canteen for the home supporters. It is again kept very neat and sober.
Next to the stadium is the club’s B-field. A club house built in brown red brick lies behind one of the two goals and one uncovered but seated stand is sufficient for the B-team to be in the third Division.One hour before the game we are among the first to enter the stadium. Our tickets are unnumbered, which in theory means that we are allowed to stand or sit anywhere except on the main stand or with the visiting fans. That “everywhere” is a relative term becomes clear when a man indicates to us barely 3 minutes later that we have chosen reserved subscriber seats…

 

While the field gets a last watering the 2 giant screens in 2 of the corners of the stadium show footage from previous matches between Brøndby and Viborg.With a “Royal” beer and a Danish hotdog in our hands we admire the empty stands of the stadium. The grandstands have blue seats on the first and second rings. On the upper ring the corners had seats as well and from one of these angles we will eventually follow the match. On the main stand everything seems more spacious. Between both rings is a rear glass section for VIPs over the entire length of the field. The most striking feature of these lodges and business seats is that the glass wall is not flat but leans forward giving an even wider angle to watch the game from.For games at national level the seats on the lower ring of the “Ultra-stand” are removed as some German clubs do as well. That the intensity level of this part of the stadium is rather high is witnessed by the crooked steps of that area . It’s most likely a nightmare for people who quickly become seasick.

 

The visitors area behind the other goal has only seats. Tonight this box will be populated by to two dozen Viborg “enthusiasts”…We do not have our expectations set high for this game as the current season has been one of the worst in living memory for the home club. The current 8th place on 12 teams in the SAS Ligaen is a low point in the recent history of the club. Thanks to the cup and the  European qualification, the year 07-08 still had a happy ending but the current low ranking is equally as surprising as unacceptable for club and for supporters.

 

Brøndby needs to finish higher than the already disappointing 6th place of last season. In a league where the clubs meet each other 3 times per season a high league ranking gives the club an additional home game the following season. Due to the odd number of matches (33), the top of the previous season receives an extra home game over the other teams. Both financially as on a sporting level that is an important advantage.Tonight’s opponent, Viborg FF, is only a small club in Danish football. The club from Central Jutland, in full Viborg Fodsports Forening, only had one big success in its 112 years of existence: in 2000 they won the DBU Pokal.

 

Right now it would take a small miracle if we want to see the club at the highest level next season. Viborg is 11th and the gap with number 10 is almost unsurmountable. In the national press the game is announced as ‘Viborgs sidste chance’ or ‘Viborg’s last chance’. A victory is a must for the green and whites.I’m not sure how to interpret the attendance of over 11,000 spectators for this end-of-season game. Viborg is almost certainly relegated and the trip Viborg – Copenhagen is a three-and-half hour car ride. In addition, the contest tonight will be televised live on TV2 Sport. As a neutral fan, you’d have to be crazy to leave your comfortable seat for this. On the other hand, I expected – especially after last week’s Cup profit – a larger attendance by the Brøndby Legion. Because of the persistent sporting problems, the confidence of Brondby’s fans is still low. They will need more than just the Danish Cup to fill the stands again. The yellow blue ultras however don’t seem to care. Decked in the club colours these die hards sing and shout loudly for the entire game. Unconditional allegiance I believe it is called.

 

The 25 visitors from Viborg are a lot less active. They bring neither color nor atmosphere to the game.On the match sheet we find only one (to us) known name, Max von Schlebrügge. The failed purchase of RSC Anderlecht moved from our capital to the first team of Brøndby IF last winter. As the “Man of the Match” in the previous home game, the number 18 today adorns the cover of the program booklet. Although program booklet might be too big a word for something that is basically the team sheets and a short editorial.

 

The contest itself is a festival of bad passes, failed first touches and shots at somewhere nowhere near the goal. We know that our own Belgian competition has lost a great deal of quality in recent decades, but what we witness here is really beyond belief! Is this the “big” Brøndby? This is where players like Laudrup and Schmeichel started their rise to subsequent European successes? A few rows in front us sits a man with a laptop on his … well … lap. He probably started a game of Football Manager after failed pass number 10 in minute 5 …
In a poor first half, the visitors even take, and not completely undeserved, the lead through Gislason. For the ultras behind the goal the signal to go into a higher gear. During the second half tries the home team piles on the pressure, under the constant encouragement of the fanatical support, but they lack any kind of creativity or football ingenuity.
Three minutes before time Katongo manages to finally score and the game ends in a draw. For both clubs this one point is insufficient. Viborg relegates and Brøndby have one less home game next season.

 

Sources:
“Europese voetbalstadions”, HEATLEY Michael
“Viborgs sidste chance” in Metro Xpress, 07/05/08, udgave 85/årgang 8
“To tabere i Brøndby” in Metro Xpress, 08/05/08, udgave 86/ årgang 8