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Thursday 6th June 2019 ko 20.10 but delayed to 20.45 due to lightening

Copenhagen Series Division One

FC GRÆSRØDDERNE 4 (Juul Hansen 52 Frederickson 57 Pedersen 65 Haile 75)

ØSTERBRO IF (Olesen 80)

Att 22 at Ved Stadion, Gentofte Sportspark.

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We awoke to a slightly changed Copenhagen. Save for the fact that thunderstorms were going to arrive at some point that day there was the small matter of Denmark waking up to the results of a General Election. They’d opted for a change in government but as foreigners we were of course divorced from the realities of what it all added up to for the people of Denmark. So much so that what happened next surprised us, and quite honestly it shouldn’t have done.

We took the metro to Amalienborg, the Danish royal family’s main palace in the capital. I say palace as you could easily say palaces, there are 4 identical Roccoco styled palaces at Amalienborg all of them built facing an octagonal square, each originally built in 1750 for Denmark’s 4 noble families.

The idea was to pay the one of the four open to the public, Levetzau’s Palace a visit, but as we arrived we spotted a crowd gathering at Schack’s Palace opposite, and sure enough a few seconds later there was the defeated Prime Minister’s car driving into the Palace for him to resign. The press reported later afterwards, and no longer Prime Minister, he walked out of the palace and took the metro home.

We looked round the palace and were in time to see the changing of the guard afterwards, but as the crowd congregated a limousine with a royal number plate honked the crowds away as it headed for one of the corner gates. Was the elderly lady in the back Queen Margrethe? I’m fairly certain it was, and she didn’t have to appoint a new Prime Minister for another 12 days.

Robyn and I headed to City Hall Square for lunch, alfresco at the Royal Scandic Hotel. It was as Robyn put it so succinctly the poshest sandwich we’ll ever eat but the view of the City Hall was spectacular and it allowed for easy access to our afternoon’s activities.

It is a real shame that the only museum in Copenhagen to Hans Christian Andersen is an addendum to one of those generic American “Would You Believe It” exhibitions that evokes PT Barnum more than the Little Mermaid. However City Hall Square does have the statue to Andersen at it’s corner and it’s a short walk to the Tivoli Gardens from here.

I’m no fan of Amusement Parks, but there is something timeless about Copenhagen’s attraction. It is more than just a theme park, there being restaurants, concerts and gardens too. Such were the time constraints of a short break that we could only spend a couple of hours at Tivoli and I suspect that later on the thunderstorms will have cleared the crowds anyway. But we had a football match to find.

We crossed the road to Copenhagen Central Station and caught the S-Train (suburban line) Nordbanan to Jægersborg. Given that we were visiting the Gentofte Sportspark you’d have thought we’d have alighted a stop earlier, but Jægersborg station is closer and you do get the chance to see the odd half-tram/half trains that run on the Nærumbanen line that terminates here.

I’m sure if I called where we were the “Ved Stadium” I doubt I’d get any sense of recognition from my reader. But use the term of the whole site, “Gentofte Sportspark” and I suspect I’d see an eyebrow or two rise.

The original Gentofte Stadion was opened in 1942 and was designed by renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen who also designed St Catherine’s College, in Oxford (what a coincidence!) and unbelievably the 3107-type chair that Christine Keeler of Profumo infamy posed provocatively in Lewis Morley’s photo in 1963. The stadium was as famous for speedway as for football, and the likes of Metallica and Guns ‘N’ Roses played there too.

The Jacobsen stadium was demolished and the new stadium opened in 2016. Its new, its clean, and for the likes of Hellerup IK who play here its an excellent facility, but half the fun is looking at the plan and historical displays and slowly the penny drops…

Look at the stand behind the goal, that comes from the original stadium, but then follow the line of trees from that stand and follow them back and around the grassed area on the far side. They trace the line of the old speedway track which ran over where the main sports hall now stands behind the new main stand. It does look striking when viewed from above even if there’s virtually no chance of the sport even returning here. It’s just that little bit too noisy for those living nearby, even if the King of Gentofte Orla Knudsen made this place his personal fiefdom in the 1940’s and 50’s. These days the nearest speedway track is near Slangerup, about 30 km north-west of here.

So if you’re Danish professional footballer, and your career is coming to an end. So what do you do? Open a pub, or sports shop, or maybe become a pundit? Well in Copenhagen it would seem that the thing do to is start your own football club.

FC Græsrødderne or in English “FC Grassroots” were founded by Mads Laudrup latterly of FC Copenhagen and son of Danish legend Michael Laudrup in 2005. They started life in the lowest rung of the Copenhagen Series and have won promotion since. More “famous” players to have turned out for them include former Chelsea and Birmingham City midfielder Jesper Grønkjær and former FC Nordsjælland and Brønshøj midfielder Patrik Wosniaki. You may know his sister Caroline the tennis player!!

The idea we tend to use when visiting lower league teams is to arrive at the nearest metro stop and find a bite to eat. There’s usually no end of little eateries near to tube stations but if you want the exception, its Jægersborg! There is nothing to eat at the Ved Stadium, save for the inevitable bank of vending machines! It was no bad thing we arrived early, as the predicted thunderstorms arrived and referee Talha Kücükavci delayed kick-off until the storms had passed. We did head for home dry but we also did hungry!

So what is it like watching ex-professionals play in an open-age league? The answer is I suspect everything you’d expect but if like me you expected them to lack pace then like me you’ll be pleasantly surprised. They passed, moved and were far too talented for a committed but functional Østerbro side.

Hindsight being what it is, Græsrødderne finished runner-ups in Division One, enough to see them promoted to the Copenhagen Series Premier Division. From there, if promoted again, they’d go into the fourth tier Denmark Series, and let’s face it they’ve got the ground to do it!

Thankfully the rain abated by the final whistle so we managed to stay dry strolling back to Jægersborg station even if once we got there the ticketing machine didn’t work. Still, there were no inspectors on our way home. Such was the lateness for the hour that evening meal ended up being a salad and sausage roll from the nearby 24 hour Netto with the ambiance being provided by the hotel bar. The laughs were as telling as they were infectious so perhaps we did find that sense of hygge I’d been looking for.