When I first read that there was a Danish Cup Quarter Final taking place at Parken at 17.00 on a Wednesday, I thought that is silly. But then I realized, we are in Denmark where working past 16.30 is considered unnecessary dedication to the cause, and that I should absolutely go. FC København against Randers FC. That is Randers and not Rangers.
Randers (pronounced Ra’ers) is Denmark’s sixth largest town (pop. 61k), home to the largest rainforest in Northern Europe and about 3h 30m by train from Copenhagen. I was expecting most of the travelling support to be Randerian diaspora. Like me. I was a Randerian diaspora member for the day. But we will come to that later.
The football club was founded from the merger of six clubs in 2003 in a move that would make the Thames Valley Royals seem small fry. However rather than trying to combine the names of the six teams, they (being the mysterious forces behind football club restructuring) plugged for the dull name of Randers FC. Randers FC are oddly managed by Colin Todd. Odd in the sense that one would not expect former England international to be managing a team from North Jutland rather than odd in the sense that he has an odd management style (he went with the tried and trusted English classic 4-4-2 in this game). Probably, the most interesting story coming out of Randers FC in recent days/ever is that midfielder Jonas Borring has been placed on indefinite compassionate leave after he discovered that club captain, Christian Keller, was seeing his wife.
Look at this new circle photo feature I have found!
Enough of this trivial context, to the game…
Tickets were purchasable online and in English. Denmark is so easy (although I still take my passport to games thanks to the Hungarian experience). I decided to join the mass away ranks for a premium of DKK 50. Only to discover that they could not be bothered to do a segregated area so just gave the away fans a cramped sector next to the corner flag. I moved a couple of sectors over for some more space and a better view.
I have mentioned before but I am not a Parken fan. It has the aesthetics of out of town office park. It is also far too big for FCK who would be much better off at a stadium half the size without the huge emptiness. Just over 7,500 came for this game. Split between all four stands and including one open upper tier. Population density was akin to that of Canada. The home ‘ultras’ did make a reasonable noise though which made the cavern seem a little more intimate. The away fans (myself included) were sedate.
The first half was not a spectacle. FCK should have scored in the first five with a couple of good chances, but then they turned off and Randers had a deflected shot strike the upright with a few minutes left.
Second half was better. FCK’s Federico Santander (sounds like a stereotypical Latino type) belted in a free kick from the edge of the area conceded a second or two after a fairly obvious handball from a FCK player. Then the home team went to sleep (common occurrence) and again allowed Randers back into the game. They huffed and puffed like a smoker on a mission to catch the bus, but looked like they were not going to get the rub of the green. Then FCK’s defence parted allowing Kasper Junker the freedom of the park (get it?) to slot home via a deflection. We were sent into wild applause. That is the way us Randerstanis celebrate. Enthusiastically, but reservedly.
Extra time! The game opened up with some pretty end to end stuff going on. But with three minutes left, an unmarked FCK defender loops the ball over the Randers goalkeeper to win it and deny me my first ever live penalty shoot-out. But wait…Randers have scored, the ball is in the net, the linesman is not flagging, am I standing up rapturously applauding with my fellow Randerenchies. No. The referee has given an offside seemingly oblivious to the fact the ball flew back off an FCK player. If I wasn’t so cold/actually had any sort of affection for Thames Valley Randers, then I would probably be pretty annoyed.
Rode my bike so quickly home I felt like ET whilst recalling that this was my second Danish Cup game at Parken and the second time FCK’s opponents had equalized in the final minute to take the game to ET before failing me with penalties. The last team to do it was Vestsjælland who are now defunct. To all Randerish men and women, I am sorry.