Sunday, June 05, 2016

KFUM-kameratene – Levanger (22-05-2016)

For business in Oslo I initially have a hard time finding a game in or around the city of a team I haven’t seen on one of my previous trips. In the end, there are two games, but at the same time, so I have to choose one. I choose to see KFUM-kameratene Oslo, which is the local sport branch of the YMCA in Oslo, which plays in the Obos Ligaen (Second Division).

I take a tram from downtown, which takes me to the affluent and green outskirts of the city. After a 10 minute walk uphill, I get to the KFUM Arena. When I had done my research into the club, I had been a bit disappointed that they played in an “Arena,” as I associated it with a new, soulless, prefab sports arena. Not so much… I doubt the term “arena” has ever been used so liberally as by KFUM.

After buying a General Admission ticket for 150 NOK (ca. $18) in a small tent, I walk over to a fairly basic pitch with just one stand of bleachers, which seem to have become permanent without the necessary intent. There are some 350 people on this stand, although some 100 arrive during the first half hour of the game. Most people are affluent, white, young males, although there are also some women and a few non-whites. A small group of ca. 50 has banners and a couple drums and, at times, sings.

On the only other stand, a very small bleacher behind one of the goals, some 50 away supporters have come together, also sporting some banners and sometimes singing. Given that Levanger is 575 km to the North of Oslo, roughly a 7.5 hour drive, I assume most of the fans are Levanger transplants in Oslo, the capital of Norway.

The game is played on astroturf, which is not surprising given the harsh climate in Norway. This generally improves the quality of play, as the ball is more predictable and easier to control. And, indeed, the quality of the game is pretty decent, although passing is soft and predictable. KFUM has various black players, who seem foreigners, as the loud and lively goalkeeper shouts his direction in both Norwegian and English.

After an entertaining but fairly harmless first ten minutes, KFUM sets up a slow attack through the center, which end with a soft finish that is just enough to cross the line: 1-0. The home fans are delighted!

Although Levanger is not much weaker, KFUM gets at 2-0 five minutes later. A free kick is shot hard into the wall, and in the second rebound it is shot in he high corner. A few minutes later Levanger finally gets its first chance, after a corner in the 20th minute, and a minute later a good attack leads to a brave safe by the KFUM goalie.

The best chance is for the hosts, however, after the Levanger goalie blunders terribly in the 43rd minute, but KFUM cannot finish. Just before half time the guests get another chance, but the hard shot goes just wide. 2-0 is the half time score.

After a very uneventful half time break, with absolutely nothing happening on or off the pitch, the game restarts with a vengeance. In face, I miss what produces the chance, but see a KFUM player score from close by: 3-0.

While it is absolutely clear that the game is over, Levanger keeps playing, although without much precession or urgency. The fans remain in good spirits too, despite the fact that it hasn’t stopped drizzling. Overall, it is mild, grey, and wet – a miserable November day in Athens, an average May day in Oslo. In the 74th minute KFUM gets another corner and scores from a header in the rebound: 4-0.

Even with 4-0 down the game continues to be entertaining, with Levanger slowly and cautiously attacking, and KFUM countering whenever they can. From the play it looks like the score is just 1-0. I become fixated on the home goalie, who shoots every kick straight out of the sideline. Amazing! In the 88th minute KFUM adds one last goal, from an effective counter with a hard low finish: 5-0. As the referee is clearly a sadist, he gives four minutes extra time to a game that has been over for 44 minutes and, surprisingly, all people stay in the stadium despite the depressing weather. Nothing happens and so the final score is 5-0.

KFUM was one of my more enjoyable groundhops in a while. A real small team with truly local fans, who enjoy the experience and make it enjoyable for others. The play wasn’t bad, even if slow, and with five goals, who could complain?

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