Tuesday, May 22, 2007

HIK-Kolding FC (19-05-2007)

What better way to spend my last weekend in Malmö than to groundhop with my buddy J.B., who is visiting me from Flanders. On Saturday we left our apartment at noon, arriving in Copenhagen an hour later. After a quick ‘lunch’, we continued our way by S-line B(+), direction Holte, getting off at station Jægersborg. From there, you could conveniently follow the signs saying “Stadion”.

Although the day had started grey and rainy, we enjoyed a sunny 10 minute walk to our final destination: Gentofte Stadion. This really old and miserable ground is home to several teams, but we were here to visit HIK or in full: Hellerup Idræts Klub. Even though the game was to start in just over 30 minutes, there was little going on in the stadium.

After touring the facilities, including the cantina (with a very tasty workforce), we returned to the professional entrance of the stadium, where we paid 60 DKK (ca. 8 euro) each to get access to the whole ground. Again, there were not tickets, but this time I was able to nag myself into the possession of a complimentary ticket for a “M. Loudrup” (as I realized after some initial excitement, this was not Michael Laudrup).

Roughly 30 minutes before the game there were some 25 people spread around the stadium, which officially holds 15,000, including 2,100 seats. We saw some people taking pictures everywhere, but rather than fellow-groundhoppers they turned out to be German tourists. The atmosphere in the stadium was so laid back that I could also have a stroll on the pitch.

After so much excitement it was time to sample the goods. No fan merchandise was anywhere in sight, even though some people wore shawls and caps, and food-wise there were only (heavy) sausages with the typical grilled Danish bread on sale. By now the “ultras” of the visitors had arrived, the KFC Fanatics, so I walked over to them for a quick picture.

At 15.00 the game started and the stadium had filled up… uhm, well, the audience had increased more than fivefold at least. When I counted all people individually around 15.15, there were 118 spectators, excluding the personnel. By half time I estimate that the numbers had swollen to 150, of whom some 15 away fans (a Danish newspaper would report a flattering 318 spectators).

HIK-Kolding FC was a game in the Viasat Sport Divisionion, or Denmark’s second highest division (also called 1. Division), just like Frem-HIK I saw two weeks earlier. HIK is at the bottom of the table, while Kolding is having a good season hovering around in the sub-top. Despite the fact that it had rained earlier that day, the pitch seemed slow (possibly the result of too high grass) and the pace of the game was even slower. Though both teams did play to win, their passing was accurate but slow, which often meant that defenders had enough time to cover their opponent. And when there were chances, either the number 11 of HIK or the number 30 of Kolding found a way to screw them up; incidentally, the number 30 was the only dark-skinned player on the pitch and seemed to play with a slightly different shirt than the rest of his team (an indication of Denmark’s increasing xenophobia? ;-). This all not withstanding, in the 28th minute it was the home team that managed to score. 1-0 was also the half time score.

The second half continued in a similar fashion: slow pace, precise but slow passing, numbers 11 and 30 missing one-on-one chances. But in the 60th minute HIF scored again and it seemed curtains for Kolding. Still, this seemed to have been the moment the visitors had waited for, as from than on they dominated the game and started to create some serious chances. In the 66th minute the number 30 finally was able to shoot at goal, rather than dribble into a wall of defenders, and claimed that he had scored, but the referee judged the ball not to have crossed the line. Two minutes later the visitors did score, also according to the ref: 2-1. And in the 74th minute they scored again, 2-2, to the dismay of the (few) people around us.

With chances on both sides, the game became increasingly exciting in the last 15 minutes. And, while many HIK ‘fans’ were already leaving the stadium, Kolding had two more huge chances to score the winner. In the 89th minute a striker tried to play the ball with his back heel, but missed from 1 meter. And in the 91st minute Kolding shot the ball on the cross bar. So, in the end, 2-2 was a lucky point for HIK, which remains a prime candidate for relegation.

J.B. and I agreed that HIK (incidentally, “hik” is the Dutch word for hiccup) was a true groundhop experience. Happily we walked back to the S-line station, where two HIK-fans approached us. These young boys boasted about their hooligan connections and one showed us a short video (on his cell phone) of the ‘fight’ between HIK-‘hooligans’ and the (infamous?) “Næstved Boys”, an eleven against eleven fight (HIK had brought more ‘hools’, but in German fashion they had selected only eleven to be fair to the eleven Næstved Boys that had turned up), which had taken place the week before. I was so happy I had decided not to go to that match instead, otherwise that might have been the last match De Grondhopper would ever have visited. (lol)

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