Esbjerg Stadion (Blue Water Arena), 2. Division , 6/11/22
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 – Aberdeen signed Esbjerg native Jens Petersen from the club. The defender appeared 210 time in red, scoring 10 goals and captaining the club.
After having my chance to visit the senior local team kyboshed last trip due to U21 call ups I finally managed to get to the Blue Water Arena to watch the big boys as opposed to the lower league sides as I did last time over here. (I wont be adverse to the B sides this time round though as I have plans to spend my birthday night with a few beers down the EfB clubhouse watching them on Friday). Staying on the theme of B sides last trip I watched one get obliterated by Andrup. In the side was a guy Kenni Poulsen who works for the the club in a marketing type role. With some interactions via Twitter and email we were soon talking all things football. This leading to arriving in Esbjerg this trip to a free ticket from the Kenni for this match today (I would have bought one anyway). An act of generosity that goes a long way in terms of good feelings toward the club. These gestures form soft spots and I genuinely wish EfB well in their push for promotion and dropped my usual neutral head for the match today. I was full Esbjegeneser for the day.
Going into this game there was a decent title race unfolding. B 93 started the weekend top of the league but dropped to third with Saturday games seeing Aarhus Freemand and AB both winning against Thisted and Braband respectively. This setting up events at the Blue Water Arena nicely. A win for Esbjerg would see them above B93 in second . A win for the visitors would see them return to the summit of the table. Game on.
With my big boss allowing me a slightly early finish to accommodate this I had to hot tail to my hotel to dump my laptop and bag etc then speed walk to the ground this leaving no time for much social shenanigans pre-match. I managed to grab a scarf , a beer then take my seat for kick off. The ground shows how the club have fallen from grace recently. Last renovated in 2009 this place is way beyond the third tier it currently finds itself in. Hopefully this will start to change soon enough for my home from home “local” club.
As I sat looking out to the North Sea from my office the deterioration of the weather was quite the sight. From sun to black clouds, rain and a howling wind it was to be a miserable soaking wet experience (my shoes are still soaking as I write the day after).
With the game teed up nicely as a top of the league clash it ended up being a one way romp in the end (well worth the entrance fee, ha). The first half was an obliteration to be honest. Goals came form Emile Holten, Mads Larsen and Holten again on 15, 30 and on the stroke of half time ensuring Esbjerg were cruising come the break. The opener was a very well placed header after some great work out on the right. This sending the Esbjerg Ultras into raptures. On them they were great all game. Singing bouncing and getting right behind their side for the full 90. Backing your team like this generates good results (see the Red Shed at Pittodrie). The second was inclusive of a decent bit of skill from Larsen who left the defender needing to pay to get back into the game before slotting home with ease. Holten’s brace came when again there was good work on the right with an inch perfect ball leaving a tap in for the forward. This to the delight of the home punters who were huddled like penguins to steer clear of the rain and keep warm. There were more chances for Esbjerg to take an even more convincing lead into the half but they were spurned. This does not take away from the fact this was an absolute dominance from EfB
HT 3 v 0
After grabbing a couple more beers with Sebastian my new found fitba pal and all round good guy we moved closer to the Ultras to see what they were like up close. Three was soon four after the restart when Mattias Jorgensen found himself in miles of space at the edge of the box where he finished well leading to team celebrations in front of the boisterous and delighted Ultras. From here Esbjerg tried to see out the game by sitting on the lead this killing the action whe had been treated to in the previous fifty or so minutes. This until the last ten minutes which gave us 2 goals and 2 red cards. First off Andreas Heimer cut the deficit with ten to go. This was quickly followed by the home sides brace hero Larsen being sent off for a second bookable foul. Then with a minute to go home keeper Sorensen was sent off for what I can only imagine is for his complaints about the penalty that was given against his side. Mikkel Mouritz stepped up to take the kick and made no mistake against makeshift goalkeeper Leonel Montano(striker) who had donned the gloves in the absence of a real keeper. This being the last action of the game. A great win for the hosts who move up to second. A great win for me in my rare non-neutral guise. As the Ultras shouted on numerous occasions, “FORZA ESBJERG”. Good luck to them going forward and hopefully promotion comes this season. Hopefully I get back to the Blue Water Arena soon enough.
Entrance – Free , gifted a ticket from club
Attendance – 3119
Pie – 45DKK hotdog (£5.30)
Pint – 45DKK, (£5.30) Carlsberg