EfB Kunststofbaner, DBU Series 3, 28/9/22
Esbjerg forenede Boldklubber
Founded – 1924
Nickname – EFB
Honours – Danish Top Tier – 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1964/65, 1978/79, Danish Cup – 1963/64, 1975/76, 2012/13. Danish 1st Division – 2011–12
Random Fact – This team is “100% Sunday League” (the words of a player and Esbjerg fB community and marketing manager Kenni Poulsen), they don’t train, only play games and are littered with ex pro players from the Danish Superliga looking to still get a kick about, including ex Ajax, Real Madrid and Esbjerg man Rafael van der Vaart.
Dropping down to the 10th tier of the pyramid with no trains or taxis needed was right up my street as I could nip into local boozers on the twenty five minute route from the hotel. A good change from the other games attended to date as there was no rushing about with transport and it was a chilled out wander up. A couple of stops were made but I enjoyed my beer in Corners bar just down from the Blue Water Arena the most. A proper throw back type place, with a few EfB bits and bobs hanging on the walls and optics. It was also only 20dkk a beer too which was now the cheapest beer to date during my time in this awesome country.
I have mentioned in previous write ups about clubs being multisport organisation. On another similar note fitba clubs over here can be multi level. For example, Esbjerg fB have their pro team in the 3rd tier and linked youth teams, but they also have teams spread across multiple leagues at Series 1, 3, another at 3 and 5. This was one of the Series 3 teams or tenth tier in other words. As I passed the Blue Water Arena on the way up I couldn’t help but be gutted that my trip was running out of days and I failed to see the senior team, through no fault of my own I might add. But there should be time as I potentially have another two trips onshore before switching to offshore. Fingers crossed I do finally get in for a couple of games.
This game was to be played at the clubs clubhouse just a bit further north of the Blue Water Arena. As I had time I got a look about the place and its full of old photos and trophies from the golden period of the club when they were by far the best team in the country during the 60’s. It was good to see a bit of the history. Another thing I noticed was all the young kids kicking about, really young which suggests the club have teams through all ages which is good to see. Also to be noted, in here I also equalled the cheapest beer to date when I picked up a few lovely Odense Classics for game for the measly sum of 20dkk each. Nice one and a fine drop too.
The game its self was to me very surprising, this given that Esbjerg started the game with a host of ex-pros including Rafael van der Vaart in their XI. On him, seeing a 109 time capped Dutch International who played in three World Cups in the tenth tier of Danish fitba added a bit of magic to my milestone of my 250th ground. But he was clearly injured from the off a carried a serious limp. But to be fair he was always looking for the ball and found space to receive it but it was not to be his night. This because Andrup were faster, sharper and more physical throughout and the game was pretty much a scudding with the Andrup up 3-0 by the break. The men in orange had the better chances and really should have stuck a couple away before they did finally score after twenty five minutes. This came when Mathias Overgaard struck a powerful drive past from 18 yards past Marker in the Esbjerg goal and it was well deserved. Jonas Hesselberg made it two with 10 minutes to go in the half when he slid onto an Anders Pultz Mortensen cross to toe the ball past Marker. The away team were not finished there for the half and it was the same duo to come up with the goods again. Mortensen cross from the left into Hesselberg who was on hand unmarked to smash home from a few yards. Game over by the half and also game over for Rafael van der Vaart who went off injured before the whistle.
HT 0 v 3
The second half didn’t have quite the same energy as the first and there was an air of the teams knowing the three points were heading up the road. There were still three more net rustles though. Mads Olesen made it 0 v 4 with a 25 yard effort across goal into Markers bottom left corner. Andrup’s 5th was a thing of beauty as Bjarke Hansen scooped a Rasmus Pedersen through ball up and over Marker from just inside the box, it was right in front of me and the trajectory of the ball to go up and down so quickly and from such a short distance was exceptional. EfB did grab a consolation late on when Michael Behrendsen rose well to bullet a header from an ex St Johnstone man Tommy Lovenkrands corner, this coming in the final minute. After Esbjerg scoring exploits over the last few games having scored 9,8 twice, 6 this match must have came as a shock to the system. Andrup on the other hand will be ecstatic as they leapfrogged EfB in the table.
Although it was one sided I really enjoyed the nights viewing. It’s good to know that ex-pros still want a kick about in their later years. It suggests they still have the fire in their bellies. I have always had the utmost respect for Robbie Winters back home and how he dropped down the levels to carry on into his forties. These guys are just doing the same as the ex-Aberdeen man and fair play to them. This was my 250th ground , yes it was at the clubs “lesser” facilities and yes it was “Sunday League” but I am chuffed with this being the milestone game. There is a story to tell from it. Put it this way, will I ever get the chance to see ex-internationals playing in the 10th tier of Danish fitba again. I doubt it.
On the way home I was to drop into a few bars akin to my walk up. On the way out of Corners pre-match I noticed Boretarnet across the road. This was the first port of call on the way back. As I walked in there was a definite valley of lost souls feel to the place. Some of these guys looked like they were dead. But bizarrely as I looked at this Dawn of the Dead scenario in front of me, it was accompanied by the sound track of “Mmmmmbop” by Hanson on the jukebox which added a comical and inappropriate vibe to the place. After a quick beer I was on my way back to somewhere nearer the hotel. When I sat down at the Dronning Louise with a pint, I had an online dialogue with the pre-mentioned Kenni Poulsen(number 9 on the night) who told me about the team a bit more, the players involved and then went on to offer me a tour of the Blue Water Arena and tickets for the first team when I am back. What a top top gesture from who seems to be a top guy going by our chats which continued into Thursday. A great end to what turned out to be a great milestone night for me. 10th tier Danish fitba, yes please.
Entrance – Free
Attendance – 37
Pie – N/A
Pint – Odense Classic, 20dkk (£2.40), EfB Clubhouse