Slaget om København

FCK (FC Kobenhavn)

Du betyder alt for mig – you mean everything to me.

Altrig skal du være alene – you will never be alone.

Hovedstaden følger dig – the capital follows you.

Make no mistake the Copenhagen derby is a grudge match.

A seemingly endless disagreement as to who the biggest club in Denmark are and which club’s fans are the best or truest embodiment of modern day Copenhagen is tiring for those whose allegiance does not extend to either of these two. This is a rivalry that often explodes in an outpouring of tensions come derby day more often than not off the pitch.

With Brondby struggling and FC Copenhagen flying high in the Superligaen, this particular occurrence of the derby fixture was awaited more by one side of the divide than the other. For many neutrals, this instance of the fixture was compromised thanks to the absence of Brondby fans.

But for those who run the game that decision was a welcome one given how much trouble Brondby fans have caused at a venue which is, after all, the home of the unifying Danish national football team.

Given how much of a colour and atmosphere spectacle this fixture can be, the absence of blue and yellow almost certainly compromised the event – blue and a dominant sense of white it was only.

For a nation once known only for the ‘Roligans’ group of fans (a nickname for a supporter of the Danish national football team who is almost solely noted for being the opposite of an ultra – calm, quiet, well-mannered supporters) the hardcore followers of the two New Firm clubs in Denmark smash that stereotype.

Brøndby fans have repeatedly destroyed seats at the Parken Stadium, leading to numerous away fan bans. Likewise there have been pitch invasions by both at the fixture; and dead rats thrown at the players on the pitch.

FCK travelling fans have been equally violent and disruptive when visiting the westerly located Brondby stadium. Fences torn down inside the stadium and missiles thrown onto the field of play causing logistical and transportation problems for the non football residents of the Danish capital.

These two clubs are not pleasant neighbours.

The sad epilogue for those who run Danish football – specifically the Dansk Boldspil Union and the Danish Police – is that the fixture has become more known for trouble and fan confrontation rather than the football.

A decision was made to exclude Brondby fans under pressure from the local Danish parliament.

A wider sense of mutual dislike has intensified with FCK now officially overtaking Brondby as the recognised giants of the Danish game both at home and in UEFA competition. But the primary driver of the rivalry is not the historical rivalry or even the number of trophies in a club cabinet.

In Milan or in Glasgow fan and club rivalries go back decades. Moreover, in the case of the Edinburgh derby the two biggest clubs have been facing off against each other since the 1870’s.

Essentially FC København are a new club founded in 1992; but a professional club founded as a super club on top of existing historic city club’s notably Kjøbenhavns Boldklub and Boldklubben 1903.

The foundation principle was simple – a driven ambitions to dominate Danish football.

While Brøndby have been around far longer than FCK they are also a fairly new club in a European sense. Founded in the 1960’s they are a product of the working class suburbs of København and dominated Danish football in the 1980’s and in the mid 1990’s.

But as FCK have grown on the field so has its fan base and likewise domestic domination has followed.

If Brøndby’s supporter base has remained solid and loyal over the years so FCK’s fan base now goes well beyond the island of Zealand into neighbouring Funen. It goes deep into the growing suburbs of Jutland where Copenhagen and its metropolitan area dominates. Indeed, the fan base of FCK now stretches into areas of Denmark that Brondby have once reached.

The two are permanently bickering over who is the most popular.

If that fan base is as geographically dispersed as many now claim it is, 5.30pm on 30th April 2023 was a time of great national pain in Denmark all be in only a football context.

Jostling at the top of the league with Njordsjaelland, Brøndby striker Ohi Omoijuanfo stroked home on 80 mins from a Nicolai Vallys cross to give the visiting team the win. The silence when he scored was staggering – rumblings from the traditional home end aside, you could have heard a pin drop as the home fans scattered away in resignation.

Those who did leave probably did the right thing.

Drama came when the match referee pointed to the spot due to a reckless kick out from Zebulonsen giving FCK a penalty. But Mads Hermansen in the visiting goal was able to save the kick leaving the home fans stunned.

With the season not over and the Danish ‘Championship round’ in full swing the club from the Parken still need to head out west to play at the Brøndby’s stadium. That tie on 14th May will see Copenhagen fans travelling out to Brondby where the tensions between these two will, once again, come to the surface.