Norwegian football actually gets too little attention. I think it’s unfair. Because in many aspects the football organization can be an example for the Netherlands and Belgium, for example. After my first visit to the Norwegian Classic at the end of 2018, it was now the turn of the country’s biggest derby. This time, too, it did not disappoint. On the contrary. An unprecedented spectacle, say the little brother of the big derbies in Sweden and Denmark. The right place for this? The capital of Norway. This is the Oslo Derby.
Also this time at the invitation of the fanatical supporters, including the ultras of Valerenga IF: Ikaros. The derby will be played on Monday. Since Oslo is also a very nice city to visit, I am already in the city a few days earlier. Bonus, the weather is mostly very sunny. Also gives the opportunity to watch two more matches in the area.
1896 Lyn F.K
The original Oslo Derby is the one between Valerenga IF and Lyn FK, aka The Battle of Oslo named. However, since 2010, that rivalry is not what it used to be. Lyn FK was relegated that year from the Eliteserien, the Norwegian Eredivisie. But that wasn’t all. The club also went bankrupt and had to make a restart. As a result, they were immediately relegated to the seventh level: 6. Divisjon.
The club has now climbed back up to 2. Divisjon, but there still seems to be a long way to go before they return to the highest level. That is also evident when I watch the football in the Bislett Stadium that Saturday afternoon. The level is not to peep at. The field is also lousy. Only a group of fanatical supporters makes themselves heard. Opponent Grorud eventually turns out to be the less bad of the two and takes the win after one good attack.
Bohemia Sports bar
When you go to Oslo as a football fan this is the place to go. Not only is the beer here the most affordable in all of Oslo, it is also a wonderful football bar. It is full of scarves, flags and pennants from clubs all over the world. In addition, it is full of the history of Valerenga IF, as it is one of their supporters bars. Of course football is broadcast on all television screens, mostly Premier League and Bundesliga.
Supporters of foreign clubs who work in Oslo also come here to watch their club’s matches. When I am there with a group, there are supporters of St. Pauli on the left watching their match, on the right a number of HSV. Everything is possible here, because it goes in good harmony. Perhaps also indicative of the supporter culture in Norway. Because although there is sometimes a fight between supporters in Norway, there is generally a very relaxed atmosphere where a lot is possible and allowed.
It is also the place where we gather before the derby. The place is now cozy full of people in the club colors of Valerenga. After the first drinks we move to a pub within walking distance of the stadium. Here the typical colored Scandinavian houses, one of which has been converted into a café. From here the corteo leaves for the stadium. However, before we know it, the group is already on its way and so we join the back of a group of 100s of supporters.
Special detail, there is hardly any police to be seen despite the necessary fireworks being set off. Only when we approach the stadium do we see a single police van, but it does not really impress. If you compare this with other countries, you don’t get the idea that a derby between arch rivals is going to be played here.
Atmosphere sets in early
Although the groups of ultras are somewhat smaller in contrast to the neighboring countries in Scandinavia, they do get the most out of it in terms of atmosphere. The away section has been enlarged for the derby to cover the entire short side behind the goal. The supporters who are already there make themselves heard an hour before the game.
On the other side at the Ikaros Ultras of Valerenga, the boxes are also filling up early. Clearly this is the game of the year. Also appears when the players start warming up and the first pyro is fired on both sides.
Fireworks in the stadiums are not completely legal, but are fully tolerated as long as the supporters keep it tidy. That is, do not throw fireworks on the field. Fireworks are allowed before the match, at the start of the second half and after the match. In principle not during the match, but during such a derby a lot is overlooked.
There are supporters who do not want to be recognized and light flares with a balaclava. Others are simply clearly recognizable and accept the risk of being punished. In Norway that is at most a ban for a few matches before you can enter again. And they are grateful for that.
Insane first half hour
I don’t know if it was agreed that way. An atmosphere action in the colors of the club with the initials of the club name in both the ultras of Valerenga and the away section. The colors of Valerenga are also proudly displayed on both long sides. Once the actions have been photographed, I am instructed by a security guard to find a position on the short side of the field. Because of this I miss the first big pyro show on Valerenga side, because the stadium is now full of smoke when I can properly aim my camera again. Since the branch is happily participating, I’ll just focus on that.
In order not to be bothered by that guy anymore, I walk to the other long side, where I can take a position for a good view of both the fanatical supporters of VIF and the branch. Barely arrived and the home team is already ahead. The stadium explodes and again massive pyro goes off. What a wonderful start to this derby. Barely a few minutes on the road and already more fireworks than in the average whole race in Europe. And that’s not all. Barely recovered and the equalizer is already there. Now there are massive fireworks again.
However, it is the home team that continues to rage. After half an hour of football it is 3-1 and the gunpowder fumes are now descending all over Oslo. Whoever thought that Norwegian football is boring, think again. Behind the goal is jumping, hustling, shouting and singing. One big madhouse. But then…in minute 35…a VAR situation. The stadium fell silent, disbelief on their faces. After a stupid foul in midfield, Valerenga has to continue with 10 men. At first glance there didn’t seem to be much going on, but in the replay…Phew! Why the hell with such an advantage.
Nail biting to the last
The red card turns the game completely upside down. Where Valerenga completely controlled the game, Lillestrom now smells blood. They fly off the starting blocks in the second half. Where the away section is still half shrouded in black smoke, the 3-2 is in the net. Most of the supporters never saw that goal. But what does it matter, immediately after the break the connection goal. The branch is crazy. It can still…
I am now just as nervous as any Valerenga supporter. Lillestrom insists, they get chances, but they don’t score. Time is ticking away. The team continues to support the team behind the goal. Fireworks will be set off throughout the game. The home team tries to force the decision on the counter, but is very sloppy, especially in the front.
And that sloppiness eventually kills the team. Half-baked defending ensures that Lillestrom manages to score the equalizer in minute 89. Totally unnecessary due to laziness. The disappointment is great in the stadium. They almost managed to win over the line. The outlet is wrong. They go through the roof, again with a lot of fireworks.
Oslo Derby decides in extremis
With no less than 6 minutes of extra time, the tension is to cut. But what everyone feared is happening. In the last 30 seconds, Lillestrom also manages to make the winning. A tight cross falls on the slipper of an attacker who shoots in nicely. They had lost sight of him for a while. Enough to mourn everyone who cares about Valerenga. The players of LSK celebrate the party together with the supporters.
Immediately afterwards the final whistle and the Oslo Derby ends in a 3-4 victory for Lillestrom. A large canvas rolls over the box, they are the winner of this derby. Coming back from a beaten position and then also winning, you won’t get them any better. For me and especially for my hosts a huge sour apple. Everyone leaves the stadium resigned. We get on the bus to go back to the Bohemen Sportsbar. The disappointment is visible and palpable.
I am somewhat surprised about the fact that the partying Lillestrom supporters can walk quietly past the bus. No one who scolds them, let alone confronts them. Maybe also let the ‘normalized’ Norway’s supporter culture. Because despite the fact that there is sometimes a fight between rival groups of supporters, the atmosphere around stadiums is generally very pleasant without too many police. In that respect, perhaps a good example for the rest of Europe.