Thursday 12th June 2014 ko 19.00
LILLESTRØM 3 (Fofana 6 Knudzon 35 Høiland 71)
Entry 270 NOK (£26.52)
If it wasn’t for the Swedish Groundhop, I simply wouldn’t have been at this game. For the last 2 years organiser Kim Hedwall has taken the event away from Stockholm, and this year decided to move for his most radical move yet, moving the whole event to Gothenburg. That brought, at least to my eyes, Norway into my equation, with a coach service available from Oslo. Of course that was for the Friday, I just needed a game for the Thursday. I spotted that top-flight Lillestrøm were at home, and then to my extremely pleasant surprise I had company in the form of Sim, who’d been on the Scottish tour that included Neilston and Stuttgart’s very own Andreas whose help I’ll never forget on the German border after a trip to Banik Most.
It was simple enough to get the coach from Gardemoen Airport to Olso Bus Terminal, our hotel was a short walk away, but it would have been a better and cheaper move to buy a one-day pass on the local trains, particularly if I’d had needed to use the buses and trams in the Norwegian capital. And let’s face it, any traveller going to Norway is going to be watching the pennies, the country is eye-wateringly expensive. We watched our Norwegian Krone evaporate alarmingly even though we were in the country a mere 18 hours.
We caught a train for the 30 minute ride north-east to Lillestrøm which seems to be famous only for being where Norway’s road accident investigation unit is based. There didn’t seem to be many cars around to crash as we walked in the last of the afternoon heat the 2.2 km to the Åråsen Stadion. There was one question that did need answering, and that involved the stadium’s floodlights. We knew they are retractable, and watching them do just that was great fun, but I’d assumed that the reason was Gardemoen Airport, just one more station away on the train.
In turned out their presence was due to Kjeller Airport, a tiny airstrip for light aircraft a mile away from the ground. I was lucky when I bought the tickets, we had the perfect view of the planes flying past the southern end of the ground, although a good money saving tip would have been to have bought the tickets online, saving 20 NOK. However a far bigger problem was my camera. I’ve long since learned to check websites for club’s camera policy, and since neither the club’s website nor the “Contraband” posters on the walls of the stadium has any mention of any ban on cameras I was disappointed to be told at the turnstile I couldn’t come in with my camera.
It never helps when clubs subcontract their security, and the attitude of the supervisor lurched from being condescending, through rudeness, to indifference. My problem was if I couldn’t stow the camera in an office (all shut before the final whistle) or put it in the boot of a car I didn’t have, what options did I have? With the security guards offering no assistance (the supervisor, “Its not my problem,”) I explained my problem to the nearby club officer, who allowed herself a smile before saying,
“Just write your name on this,”
and handed me a press pass, after checking that I did have a valid ticket. You can imagine how much I enjoyed waving that pass at security!
It all went swimmingly after that, unless of course you happen to follow Strømsgodset. Maybe this was the league leaders having a bad day at the office, maybe the loss of manager Ronny Deila to Celtic has hit them hard, but the hosts were good value for their win. They looked far more adept, their crisp passing cutting open a ponderous visiting defence time after time.
From there we had little time before our train back, and found a pizza takeaway-cum-restaurant which was just about affordable, and it did come with the added bonus of meeting a young punk with a lilac Mohican! He was a lovely chap, if a little sozzled, and at £7 a pint that was no little achievement! It added to life’s rich tapestry which in all honesty was a fair summary of the entire day.
I had to check my teamsheet but 15-year-old prodigy Martin Odegaard did play for Strømsgodset. I’d like to tell you how fantastic he was, but in all honesty, he made no impression at all. Perhaps its no bad thing I’m not a talent scout, as he’s just signed for Real Madrid!!