Monday, August 02, 2010

Strømsgodset IF – Aalesunds FK (01-08-2010)

On my last day in Oslo, I decided to leave the city and make the 40 km (25 miles) journey to Drammen to see a home game of Strømsgodset IF, one of the smaller teams in the Norwegian Toppeligaen (First Division). Normally this would take only 30 minutes by train, but because of work on the tracks, I had to take a bus, which took me some 50 minutes. Although the stadium is just a 15 minute walk from the station, I arrived a couple of minutes late.

The Marienlyst Stadion was opened in 1925 and has been the home of Strømsgodset IF since 1967; the Norwegian national youth team also plays most of its game here. It has a capacity of 7.500, and since 2007 the surface is artificial grass. The stadium consists of three different sized, but all covered stands, and one smaller, non-covered stand for away supporters.

I bought a ticket for NOK 270 (34 Euro) and made my way to the stand of the Strømsgodset ultras, behind the goal. Most of the fans on this stand were wearing team jerseys and were standing and singing during the whole game.

The stadium was pretty crowded; the official attendance was 6,263 (if my Norwegian is correct). Among them at least 500 away supporters, who had made the impressive trip from Ålesund, 537 km (333 miles) to the north of Drammen. Respect!

Although the conditions were perfect for a good game of football – 21C/70F, dry and only a slight breeze – the players had something else in mind. The first half hour almost nothing noteworthy happened, except perhaps for a nasty foul by an Aalesund striker, who was punished by a yellow card and whistles whenever he got the ball until he was substituted in the 63rd minute.

In the 39th minute Strømsgodset, which had been the weaker team until that point, takes a free kick fast and scores unexpectedly 1-0. The first half ends on a high note, however, with the home goalie making two safes against headers in the 3rd minute of extra time and a defender clearing on the goal line after the goalie was defeated by a beautiful lob.

The second half starts with the same bad football, but this time with much less singing from the home fans. Fortunately, they pick it up again after 10-15 minutes, and I am again enjoying my evening out, rather than the football game. It is mostly a game of what the Germans call Kampffussball (work football) with the visitors showing at least some attempts at passing. In the 59th minute a fantastic cross of Aalesund is missed from close range. The visitors get a lot of possession because the hosts are weak in the personal duels.

After several half-chances for the visitors, Strømsgodset finally challenges too. After a good individual action a thundering shot from ca. 20 meters is tipped over the crossbar by the Aalesund goalie. He also boxes the following two corners away. In the 67th minute the hosts attack and two players go down in the box: penalty!

The 2-0 was not really deserved, even though Aalesund created few clear chances. A few more chances emerge after the goal and in the 76th minute Aalesund score with a volley after a good attack: 2-1. It looks as if the last fifteen minutes are going to be exciting, but in the 82nd minute a Strømsgodset corner is headed back and then headed in from close range: 3-1, game over.

I must admit that I had never heard of Strømsgodset IF before I came to Oslo. Reading up on them, I am happy that ‘Godset’ was saved from bankruptcy in 2006, as they have a cozy stadium and a small but loyal following. Going to a Strømsgodset game is like going to any major game in a provincial town in the 1970s-1980s. The real football experience!

1 comment:

Aleksander said...

Nice article/review! (you can call it whatever you want)

Strømsgodset actually won the Norwegian Cup later the same year, meaning they got a place in the qualifier for the 2011 UEFA Europa League. There they drew Athletico Madrid (!) and both matches will be played within a couple of weeks.

Beeing from Drammen myself, I gotta say I'm impressed by your knowledge (on football and backgrounds).

Next time you are in Norway, why don't visit my local football team in Drammen, Åssiden IF? They aren't the best team, but they know how to play entertaining football!