Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hel! Sing! Borg!....Copen! Ha! Gen!

I had my first taste of European football yesterday. I went to a training camp match between FC Kobenhavn and Helsingborg IF, a Swedish club. Since the match didn't mean anything it was only 40 kroner to get in and the attendance was only 1,087... I counted? It was great to see a game for such a good price. The fan section for Helsingborg was worth the price of admission itself. They were constantly chanting and swaying together throughout. For a small group they were surprisingly vocal. They had flags and banners and even a bunch of bright red flares that blanketed the pitch with pink smoke shortly after kickoff. There's no way they'd get into the stadium with those in America.

Unfortunately I didn't plan well enough for the cold weather inside the stadium. I had figured it would at least be a bit warmer in the stands; I was wrong. I ended up standing much of the game just to keep the blood flowing and by halftime I could have sworn my toes were going to be frostbitten. Luckily my FCK scarf kept my face from getting unbearably cold.

The first half was pretty uneventful and neither team could capitalize on their opportunities. In the second half, FCK got the scoring started with a well placed header off a cross. But the lead didn't last. After an FCK attacker blew a perfect opportunity to take a two goal lead, Helsingborg countered quickly and received a penalty kick for a trip in the box. Their kick taker scored the PK to tie it up. To my confusion, when he scored, all the FCK fans started clapping; it turns out he used to play for the team.

In the 86th minute, after a series of well placed passes, Helsingborg put another in the back of the net to stun the crowd and secure the upset. All was not lost, however, because as the game neared its end the video board announced that a restaurant attached to the stadium would be offering free soup to everyone after the game. As I spooned the tomato soup into my mouth and tried to urge its warmth down to my numb toes I was satisfied with my first football experience despite the loss and bitter cold.

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