On the roof? You’re having a laugh! (Copenhagen, October 2006)

I had never been to Denmark, but had met a few Danish people in my time, notably Nethe from working on Bournemouth beach, and Hans from Tesco in Springhill. Northern Ireland were often drawn in the same qualifying group against Denmark, and I had been to 3 home matches against them. My only Northern Ireland away match in 2006 (having been to 3 in 2005) would be in Copenhagen, Denmark. Me and my mates always book our flights early and on whatever airline we can get for cheap basically (as such I am already booked for two away matches later this year). The glory about Denmark was we booked the early flight out on match day (the Saturday) and the late flight back on the Sunday. This meant (well, initially) no days off work and two days partying and footballing it up in Copenhagen. I was booked on a flight with Graham, Richboy, Luke and Tim Beattie from Gatwick to Copenhagen Kastrup the morning of the game, but in reality the adventure started when I left work the Friday night. My mate Richboy had wanted to come up to London after work on the Friday and I arranged a wee pub where we could meet up for a pint. We met up to watch the Friday night footy in The Hole in The Wall pub at Waterloo. After a few jars in there Richboy and I decided to head back my way (at the time in Dartford! Kent!). In there we got a bit more pished in The Bear and Ragged Staff, where we had a Northern Ireland v. England pool competition. Me and Richboy lost as I moved on till the gin and tonics. At this point Richboy noticed a poster up in the bar advertising a band called ‘Beggar’. Well low and behold but this is our nickname for people from the Republic of Ireland. They want our land, they want our players, they steal other people’s players. Richboy naturally nicked the poster and we headed back to mine at last orders as we were up early with two trains to catch to get to Gatwick. We met Tim, Graham and Luke at Gatwick, where we also had time for a pint in the Wetherspoons there before boarding our flight.

My mates Gavin, David, Owen, Dean, Colin, Andrew, Skin and Scott (amongst many others that I knew) were already in Copenhagen and had been partying the previous few nights. We would meet them when we found our hotel and the growing congregation of Northern Ireland fans in Tivoli Square. On the plane I played Snow Patrol on my iPod for the plane’s customers, some of who were going to the Snow Patrol gig in Copenhagen. The beers were flowing and the party had begun. On arrival we posed for some photos in Copenhagen airport and station, including hanging our SOE NISC fleg up on the train station sign. The train was fast and clean and soon we were in central Copenhagen where we met some really friendly Denmark fans. Whilst buying some lunch in McDonalds of all places, a Denmark fan came over to me and noticing I was dressed like a lunatic he gave me a present. I still have it and I treasure it. It is a fleg in green and white which says “So Long; Farewell.” It was a nice gesture. I shook the guys hand, but sadly didn’t catch his name or e-mail details! I now had another fleg to take to the match.

We then went to Tivoli Square in the centre of Copenhagen which was heaving with green and white Northern Ireland fans. Some 3,000 had made the away trip. I met up with all my mates, as well as some members of the London NISC, Bangor NISC and North of England NISC. I also met Matthew from Donegal NISC who had watched the previous away match (v. Finland; a 2-1 win for us) with us in a wee bar in Westy K, London. Then we got the SOE NISC fleg up, placed it between two traffic cones, got a carryout of 24 tins of Tuborg. My mate Gavin and Colin also had some Carlsberg. If you’re going to drink these beers anywhere in the world, nowhere better than the square in the centre of Copenhagen could be better. They are two of Denmark’s finest exports! London NISC member, Northern Ireland fan and Vauxhall’s Labour MP Kate Hoey was then spotted by myself in the crowd, so we got her over to pose for some photos. She was great craic, but she didn’t want a beer, she is a lovely lady. I’ve met her a few times on various flights and trips, and she is one MP who is down to earth and happy to talk to the electorate. Before doing this we had got all the South of England NISC members together for a spontaneous “Gay Disco”, basically we would just dance like maniacs with our tops off in the square. As a club this was the “Gay Disco” away day debut. We enjoyed it, even if some fit Danish girls refused to join in…

After this the banter just got better and better. We did quite a bit of singing in the square and it was all god natured. A band on stage even let the Northern Irish boys up there and they got us all doing the bouncy and singing songs. Then we all looked up and there was a guy on the roof of McDonalds in the main square (this was five storeys up) and this guy was dancing with a Northern Ireland fleg. I saw the opportunity to get our SOE NISC fleg up there and told Tim and Graham I would go up. The guy who put the first fleg up there had come back down and I said we should go back up with our fleg to get a photo and get the crowd looking up and singing. Within about five minutes, I got the fleg, sneaked in through the STAFF ONLY section at McDonalds and preceeded to walk up all the steps past video cameras and up a ladder until we were on the roof overlooking the square. At that point we got the fleg out and placed it below a sign which read “I’m Lovin It” (this was a McDonalds motto). Sandwiched in between adverts for McDonalds and SONY, there I was with this other random Northern Irish guy who I had just met (called Tim) flying our massive supporters club fleg amidst big cheers from below from the Northern Irish crowd. It was a great view of Copenhagen from up there and I remember overlooking the city, before we decided to wait a few minutes before heading back down in case the peelers recognised us. I didn’t even take my wig off! We went back down the steps and hoped to escape quietly through the crowd. However somehow the peeler recognised me, called me over and asked what I was doing. I said “trying to find the toilet.” Well I was taking the piss…I gave him a fake name of John Smith and a fake address of King Road in London and off I went. Graham and Tim found it hilarious, as did I and its still one of my classic moments. The photos of me on the roof with the club fleg are great!

After that it was more banter in Tivoli Square, before Graham, Luke and I hopped on till a bus to take us closer to the Parken Stadium (Home of FC Copenhagen). The bus was rammed and nobody paid. We did the bouncy as we went round the corner. Soon after that Graham and I headed to the bar and met up again, by coincidence (nobody carried mobile phones) with Gavin, Andrew, Colin and co. We hadn’t been doing round all day, as most of us bought our own carryout, but for some reason I decided to buy everyone a round in there. I ordered 8 pints of lager and it was just under £40. OUCH! That was my worst memory from the trip. I didn’t have much cash for the rest of the night after that. We drank the beers and some Danish guy also told us to take the fleg down, he was pissed and also tried to start a fight. We kept the fleg up though, laughed it off and spoke to the other more friendly Denmark fans. This was a pub on the corner about 5 minutes walk from the stadium. We then got into the stadium and me and Richboy put the club fleg up in the corner, meeting up with Squid, Tim and Graham from our SOE NISC. The first half we stood over near the fleg, next to two ladies (Crusaders fans) from north Belfast. We started on the back foot and Denmark kept attacking at us. A weak David Healy shot was the closest we came in the first half. That said, Maik Taylor, Aaron Hughes and Jonny Evans were performing amazingly at the back and we looked solid. At half time we moved seats over to the middle where the Bangor and North of England NISC were. The singing was loud and proud for 90 minutes from all of us. Towards the end, we looked strong and good for a 0-0 draw, which is what we wanted! We were playing so well, and with Latvia to come at home, it was seriously looking like we could go into Christmas with 7 points (which we did!). The final whistle came and we triumphed in a 0-0 draw with the mighty Denmark away. Not an easy place to get a point from and we had done it! Just after the final whistle, the Danish fans above us threw some plastic pint glasses at us. They were probably filled with piss, as they like to drink their beer. The bastards! WE were up for a party though and danced through the streets to find a bar. Graham and Luke were flying back the next morning so hadn’t booked any accomodation and would just stay up with us and then head to the airport. Tim and I had booked a Hotel Room near the train station, which included breakfast, which stupidly I missed! We put our flegs up in the nice side streets of Copenhagen as we enjoyed a chilled beer on the streets. It was great. After that we headed to The Dubliner pub further down the street.

Once inside the Dubliner, we got some more beers. At that point there was me, Scott, Richboy, Tim, Colin, Dave, Gavin, Andrew and Richard from the London NISC. We enjoyed a few wee sing songs in there and also said our goodbyes to Graham and Luke, who went to the airport. The Dubliner was a relaxed wee bar with three parts, the front bit, the up the stairs bit and a wee downstairs bit. Scott was absolutely tanked! We chatted to some hot Danish ladies (Marianne and I forget the other ladies name) in there as we found seats beside them. They spoke really good English. I played my green recorder to them as me Richboy and Tim also sang “We’re Not Brazil; We’re Northern Ireland.” Then Andrew came over and says “Here is that Jan Molby there?” Looking round in shock me and Tim were like “Fucking hell yeah thats him – thats Jan Molby!!” He had put on a few pounds of weight since the days of wining leagues for Liverpool, winning Euro 92 for Denmark and starring in the 1986 World Cup. He was just out for a few beers and had a scouse accent. We started talking away till him and he was dead on. He spent a lot of time talking away and posing for photos. What a great lad! He even respected the Northern Irish performance on the night. I love meeting professional footballers and celebrities. To see Jan Molby enjoying a pint with the SOE NISC in his capital city was amazing. Surreal, but amazing. Respect to Jan Molby.

After that we posed for more photos with the fleg and Scott danced away, making a dancefloor when there wasn’t one. Ther beer kept flowing and the time in Copenhagen seemed to last forever and be a constant lager fest. Soon Colin, Richboy, Scott and I were the last four to leave the pub, around 3 or 4 am I recall. We randomly sang ‘Nightswimming’ by REM in the street for no reason. A quick sleep and the next morning I was up with Tim and fresh hoping to catch some sights. Unfortunately it was a football trip so culture in Denmark played second fiddle. However we did enjoy walking through the streets the next morning, enjoying Danish coffee, Danish pastry and the side streets. It was a small sample of Danish culture. I also bought some random English T-Shirts with “Will Fuck On First Date”, “Masturbating Is Not A Crime” and “Rub My Nuts For Luck.” I think I’ve managed to lose them all by now. We hopped on the train back to Copenhagen airport, where we spoke to some Dundonald boys, enjoyed a beer and pizza and got on a flight to Berlin. Yes, I ended up coming home to Kent via Germany. Three countries in one day. At the airport in Berlin I also got time to post my wee brother another postcard and buy a few more beers. The next flight got me into Stansted, where I headed on a train to Liverpool Street. I still felt in party mood and ended up getting drunk on beers in London with random people before heading back to Kent. IN a rare blemish, I ended up missing work that day due to tiredness. Aw well, what a trip!

Where I Stayed – I think it was Hotel Absolon (Tim will know, he booked it)

Beers Tried – Tuborg, Carlsberg, Carlsberg Elephant.

Nationalities Met – Northern Irish, Danish, English.

Transport used – London Underground, Gatwick Express Train, Aeroplane, Danish trains, Copenhagen buses.

Key Song – Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars.

Strange Currencies – Danish Kroners.

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