Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg are twin cities in Norway.

The city of Fredrikstad literally translates to ‘Fredrik’s place’. The name is also a hint to a period when Norway was under Danish rule.

Fredrikstad had been founded by Frederik II of Denmark in 1567 when a fire destroyed the nearby town of Sarpsborg further up the river Glomma. Belligerent and adversarial, and aroused by honor and national pride, Fredrik II knew that the history of Sarpsborg was a long and voluminous one.

Just like the river that runs nearby the origins of Sarpsborg goes back to Viking times.

Founded as Borg by a Viking King Olav Haraldsson (Saint Olaf II) in 1016 Sarpsborg was burned to the ground by Swedish invaders in the 16th century. Half the population was evacuated down the river to another settlement that is today known as Fredrikstad.

The development of the region has progressed to such an extent that Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg is now considered one large urban area. But don’t say that to followers of the local football clubs.

You are more likely to see fans of Sarpsborg dressed as vikings. Fredrikstad fans meanwhile are still living off of former glories – tradition.

Fredrikstad Fotballklubb were founded in 1903. The same year that Sarpsborg Fotballklubb were established.

While football at many older Norwegian clubs grew out of other sports FFK was the first club in Norway to focus uniquely on playing football.

Effectively the Aristokratene (The Aristocrats) can be labeled the first true football only club in Norway. 

The problem is that Fredrikstad’s last title win came in 1961, before Rosenborg Trondheim had even won a single one of its 26 championship titles.

Given the harsh weather conditions in Norway and the issues with travel there was a lack of local football opposition for Fredrikstad.

Competitive football in Norway had not commenced until 1902 and finding local regional opposition was a problem.

Sarpsborg FK were founded on 8 May 1903. Just one month after Fredrickstad.

The original SFK was one of the most successful teams in the Norwegian football, with six cup wins and twelve finals appearances in total.

They also played 20 seasons in the top Division of Norwegian football.

Football in Sarpsborg also saw another successful team.

Sparta Sarpsborg had won the Norwegian cup in 1952 and competed regularly in the top tier.

However, from the 1970’s onward football in the city of Sarpsborg entered into a period of steep decline.

It was out of this situation that the idea of club collaboration representing the city came about.

About 16 teams in the Sarpsborg area joined forces to create a super team that could compete in the top divisions of Norwegian football and it was called Sarpsborg Fotball.

In its first season, the team was relegated from the Norwegian 2. division, and both the original Sarpsborg FK and Sparta, withdrew from the collaboration.

The remaining clubs in the Sarpsborg Fotball project then formed a new club called Borg Fotball; a hint to the ancient name for the city.

In 2003 the collaboration club was renamed again as FK Sparta Sarpsborg. The club earned promotion to 1. division (the second tier of Norwegian football) in 2005.

At the end of the 2007 season Sarpsborg FK then stopped resisting and again joined the collaboration of teams.

At the same time, in an effort to unite the different factions within the collaboration, the kit colors were changed and the club renamed itself Sarpsborg Sparta FK. However, the new club name remained a source of contention throughout the 2008 season and resistance was the common theme.

A new club name, Sarpsborg 08 FF, was adopted in 2009.

Sarpsborg 08 are in effect a cooperation project rather like FC Midtjylland in Denmark. Despite years of resistance the new club have played in the Norwegian top tier since 2013.

Proud Traditions, a new history – Stolte tradisjoner, ny historie so they say.

Season 2024 sees both Sarpsborg 08 and Fredrikstad in the Norwegian Eliteserien the top professional league for association football clubs in Norway. Both are amongst the 15 clubs who now aim to challenge the strong and dominant Bodø/Glimt at the top of the table.

Not always present but still neighbors – both are up for the challenge.