Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Denmark v England. 09/02/11

"If you can't get away with a childs ticket on the metro, it's unlikely you'll be able to get away with a dog one."

Denmark 1-2 England. Parken Stadium.
Wednesday 09/02/14.
If you want to imagine what it was like going to Denmark away, think of the wonderful television programme Supermarket Sweep and reverse it. In that popular show hosted by Dale Winton, competitors had to try and get the priciest items into their trolley. For this two day trip to Copenhagen, it was a case of seeing how cheap you could make a holiday to one of the most expensive countries in Europe.

That meant stripping away what some people would consider essentials on a holiday - things such as accommodation, food and to a certain degree beer. The first was achieved through the lucky coincidence that several friends were in Copenhagen at the same time meaning I could spend the first night on their hostel floor and the second night in the airport. The second was achieved by taking the Russian approach and treating vodka as a food source so one large bottle of it would suffice as meals in the main for this two day visit, and said vodka in turn also covered the third money saving point.

Soldiers parade outside Amalienbrg
My first experience of Norwegian Air was a good one although the landing into Copenhagen was not as the airports precarious location on the coastline had me convinced we were going to land in the sea. The only way to get over that panic - a trip to the Carlsberg factory, of course. Getting there meant taking a metro journey where you could incredibly buy a ticket for a dog. It was half the price of an adult which makes you wonder if buying a dog fancy dress costume and traveling on that ticket could be a financially viable option in the long run.

Could you get away with a dog ticket?!
For somebody who doesn't like Carlsberg, it was a decent experience. Carlsberg in Denmark tastes nothing like the piss poor version we get served in England which was just as well as I think I'd rather have a circumcision carried out with a rusty nail than drink that. As well as Carlsberg, we sampled Tuborg which was nice and the breweries cider Somersby, a concoction dangerous for the fact it taste just like apple juice making it ridiculously easy to drink.

At the Carlsberg Factory
Despite the expense of beer in the country, we did spend Tuesday night drinking in various bars around the city. They included The Viking House which did a fine line in cocktails and Billy Booze, a "discount" bar. They had an interesting take on Jagerbombs, supplying a full can of Red Bull with each one which left us with only one option - ordering two shots of Jager at a time to make it a Double Jagerbomb and balance out the ridiculous amount of energy drink. Not clever, it turned out.

Copenhagen's Little Mermaid Statue
The resulting hangover and hole in the wallet could only be cleared in one manner, and that was getting right into the Danish spirit and hiring a bike. Not only was this an excellent way to clear a Wednesday hangover and see the sights but it also meant staying out of the pub for a large part of the day. The sights were admittedly limited. The famous theme park Tivoli Gardens was shut for the winter so the days visits were mainly restricted to the Kings House, Amalienborg which is the winter residence of the Royal Family and the Little Mermaid Statue.

Probably the highlight of all this was the cycling itself. With every single highway having a cycle lane separated from both road and pavement it meant you didn't spend the majority of the time worrying about being killed or mowing down a child and could actually enjoy being on a bike. The hire scheme was also extremely cheap and a perfect way to see the city.

Knights of the realm
Cycling to Parken Stadium for the evenings game wasn't an option after a few pints in a pub well populated with England fans as well as the controversial choice of dinner - that aforementioned bottle of vodka. Not being a big vodka drinker myself, I shared the final remnants with some knights of the realm met en route on the train to the stadium in exchange for some Carlsberg cans before we headed to a small bar a five minute walk from the ground for some more pre-game drinks.

Parken Stadium appeared to be far bigger than it's 38,000 capacity
Parken itself was pretty empty for the encounter which was a shame as it was an excellent stadium. The roof was shut which gave the odd sensation of it being warm inside when it was absolutely freezing outside. The ground was made up of four stands, all two tiered except for the one the England fans were based in behind one of the goals. There were a couple of huge scaffold poles on either halfway line which would have been a bloody nightmare to sit behind. The stadium looked massive, far bigger than the mere 38,000 it holds.

Wouldn't want a ticket behind this pole
The roof itself was bizarre. It just appeared to be a load of panels placed onto metal supports that had come from nowhere. No England fan in the ground could work out how it worked or where it had come from unlike say the Millennium Stadium roof which is quite obvious in that it slides. At the time you could have put that confusion down to alcohol consumption but even in the cold light of day the photographs still confuse the hell out of me. Answers on a postcard.

The Parken Stadium roof - just where did it come from and
how did it work?!
The game itself was a regulation boring friendly but nonetheless heralded an impressive England win. Daniel Agger gave the Danes the lead with Darren Bent equalising shortly after and Ashley Young hitting a second half winner. A special mention for Christian Eriksen who was excellent for Denmark. A Premier League side looking for a creative midfielder could do a lot worse than take him off Ajax's hands in the summer. And it was a great pleasure to see Wolfsburg legend and Schteve McClaren's finest signingSimon Kjaer playing the second half for the Danes.

Parken Stadium
One of the biggest troubles with international friendlies abroad is you can drink during the game, depriving that vital 90 minutes of sobering up time and this can lead to problems after, such as thinking you know the way to walk back to the city centre but unfortunately wandering into what could be the set of a Copenhagen version of Shameless if there is such a thing.

That is the fate that befell me before doing the one thing a man finds hardest to do - admit he has got himself hopelessly lost and ask for help - and jumping on a bus back to the city centre which was in the opposite direction. The travel dramas weren't over after that either as only the kind actions of a train guard who knew I needed to get off at the airport saved me from ending up in Sweden after he woke me up at the suitable stop.

Copenhagen Airport has a lot to answer for in terms of the comfort of it's seats for a much needed good nights sleep yet it was still improvement on the previous evenings hostel floor. But as I dozed off under an escalator, the main aim of the trip had been achieved - it had been cheap. Somewhere in a parallel universe where Supermarket Sweep is played backwards, I'd like to think that bought a smile to Dale Winton's face.

Talk about being tight - sleeping on a floor
with just a flag for warmth isn't the most
comfortable way to spend a night
Danish Carlsberg- far better than the English version
England and Denmark enter Parken
Denmark: Thomas Sorensen, Daniel Agger 1, Simon Poulsen (Daniel Wass), Lars Jacobsen (Michael Silberbauer), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Nicklas Pedersen), Martin Jorgensen (Simon Kjaer), Christian Poulsen, William Kvist (Martin Vingard), Christian Eriksen, Dennis Romedahl (Thomas Enevoldsen), Nicklas Bendtner.

England: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, John Terry, Michael Dawson (Gary Cahill), Ashley Cole (Leighton Baines), Frank Lampard (Scott Parker), Jack Wilshere (Gareth Barry), Theo Walcott (Stewart Downing), Wayne Rooney (Ashley Young 1), James Milner, Darren Bent 1.

Attendance: 21,523

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