When gold came to Hvidovre
Posted on November 15, 2016
HVIDOVRE is a suburb of Copenhagen where a number of Danish TV programmes and films have been shot. It’s the sort of area that looks like many small towns that form part of greater Copenhagen – neat, uniform and well served from an infrastructure perspective.
Hvidovre Stadion is just a few minutes walk from Friheden station. It has the classic Danish football stadium appearance, with a main stand that looks municipally identical to those found at Frem and AB. Hvidovre are having a decent season in 2016-17, but they are in the second division. The days when they were among Copenhagen’s top clubs have long passed, but HIF, as they are known, have a history that includes three Danish league titles, the last coming in 1981. They can also claim to be the club that really launched the career of Peter Schmeichel, who played for Hvidovre between 1984 and 1987.
In 1966, as England was celebrating a World Cup triumph and the Beatles were turning the music industry upside down with Revolver, Hvidovre were in the process of winning their first Danish gold medal. They’ve recently been celebrating the 50th anniversary of that landmark achievement.
Two years earlier, Hvidovre were promoted from the second level of the Danish system, along with Aab (Aalborg). The core of that team was still intact when Hvidovre were crowned champions. Ernst Netuka took over from Bendt Jørgensen in 1966 as manager and in his first campaign, Hvidovre surprised everyone. He introduced a regime that included training what was essentially an amateur team four times a week.
In 1965, Hvidovre finished fifth in the Danish League, but in 1966, they started the season in uncompromising style. In the first six games, Hvidovre did not concede at all, and goalkeeper Jørgen Henriksen went on to keep his goal intact for 558 minutes. It was not until the seventh game, against KB, that Hvidovre’s defence was breached. Henriksen had arrived from Frederiksberg club Dalgas in 1965, but had to sit on the sidelines for sixm months owing to the fact he had transferred from Copenhagen club to another. Rules is rules, as they say.
Throughout the season, Hvidovre’s success was built on a rock solid defence – in 22 games, they let in just 16 goals, keeping 12 clean sheets. Henriksen went on to play for Denmark, and the defence in front of him also included internationals like John Worbye, a speedy full back, the reliable Villy Bang Nielsen and John Petersen, who was renowned as a player who could read the game well.
Hvidovre completed the first half of the season unbeaten and it was not until the 16th game that they were defeated, 2-4 at Vejle. They used just 14 players in the campaign, of which 10 were products of the club’s youth set-up. Only Henriksen, Villy Bang Nielsen (Frem Saxkøbing), Knud Andersen (Hasle) and Fritz Hansen (Frem Sakskøbing) came from other clubs.
The star of the team was arguably John Steen Olsen, described as the best right winger in the Danish game at the time. Olsen, like other members of the team, including Henriksen, moved to the Netherlands. He played for Utrecht and Feyenoord and won 18 caps for Denmark. But he is also well known for his scouting prowess and can name Christian Eriksen, Jesper Grønkjær and Zlatan Ibrahimović among his finds. Olsen clearly knows a good player when he sees one.
Hvidovre’s top scorer, however, was Fritz Hansen, who netted 11 goals, including a hat-trick in the decisive match of the season in Odense as Hvidovre won 6-2 against B1909 to clinch the title. Hansen was lethal with his left foot and had a reputation for being a “fox in the box”.
Hvidovre won the championship with one game to go. A week earlier, they had almost done enough when they drew 0-0 with neighbours Frem, who were also chasing the top spot. A crowd of 14,000 saw the game at Hvidovre stadium with everyone wanting a glimpse of the big Copenhagen shoot-out. The two clubs were bitter rivals in a league that was very capital city heavy.
With the championship secure, Hvidovre slipped up in their last game, losing 0-1 at home to AaB. But Hvidovre had already booked their place in the 1967-68 (Danish football was out of sync with most of the continent in those days) European Cup. Hvidovre beat Switzerland’s Basel in the first round before facing the mighty Real Madrid, Amancio, Gento et al.
They drew 2-2 in Copenhagen’s Idraetsparken in front of 41,000 people but lost 1-4 in Madrid before a crowd of 90,000. Most of the 1966 team lined-up for that memorable tie.
In 2016, the old war horses from one of Hvidovre’s finest hours gathered to relive their triumph. Sadly, some are no longer around, but the memory certainly lives on for these Danish boys of ’66.
Hvidovre’s champions of 1966
|Villy Bang Nielsen||15-8-1935||RB||68|
|Jørgen Jespersen||03-12-1936||CB||260 (2)|
|John Petersen||04-04-1943||RH||159 (6)|
|Lars Bo Henriksen||30-12-1941||LH||131 (59)|
|Bjarne Faerch||02-05-1940||RB||153 (1)|
|Leif Sørensen||25-11-1942||IR/MF||269 (131)|
|Jørgen Petersen 1||07-10-1939||MF||103 (47)|
|Allan Hebo Larsen||22-01-1943||IL/MF||107 (32)|
|Knud Andersen||11-03-1940||LW||192 (26)|
|Jørgen Petersen 2||19-06-1945||FWD||19 (3)|
|John Steen Olsen||04-01-1943||RW||204 (48)|
|Fritz Hansen||14-07-1939||CF||104 (49)|