When gold came to Hvidovre

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 smvillybangnielsenall towns that form part of gjorgenhenriksenreater 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.leifsorensenjohnpetersen

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.fritshansenlarsbohenriksen

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.johnsteenolsen

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 whicjohnworbyeh 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 clinknudandersench the title. Hansen was lethal with his left foot and had a reputation for being a “fox in the bojorgenjespersenx”.

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.

allanheboWith 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

  Born Position HIF record
Jørgen Henriksen 16-7-1942 G 134
Villy Bang Nielsen 15-8-1935 RB 68
Jørgen Jespersen 03-12-1936 CB 260 (2)
John Worbye 27-01-1941 LB 202
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)





A club on every corner it may have, but that’s Copenhagen

The 1940s - when Frem were wonderful in Copenhagen
The 1940s – when Frem were wonderful in Copenhagen

When KB Copenhagen and B1903 merged in 1992 to form FC København, it created what many people felt was the first Danish “superclub”.  With its plethora of abbreviations and acronyms comprising formation dates and the odd BK or FC, it’s not always easy to navigate Danish football and the latest round of mergers and club recalibrations makes it difficult for the casual onlooker.

FCK and Brøndby (themselves the result of a merger) hog the limelight in Copenhagen, but there’s a dozen or more clubs that surround both of these giants of the Danish game. Some play in front of miniscule crowds and others struggle to make ends meet. Surely, the Copenhagen football landscape is ripe for further consolidation?

Kim Vilfort, one of Denmark’s 1992 European Champions, and a goalscorer in the national team’s 2-0 win over Germany in that never-to-be-forgotten final, doesn’t think that there is an appetite for more mergers in Danish football. “There was a time when people thought it was the way to go, especially after FCK’s success, but there is less talk about mergers now.” If there is a possibility, Vilfort looks at the cluster of clubs in the Island of Amager which forms part of Copenhagen. “There you have Fremad Amager, B1908 and Tarnby – I guess there is potential but I don’t see it at the moment.”

Hif logo 2008 cs2Clubs like Frem, from Valby, and Hvidøvre, also look like good merger material, but Vilfort, who started his career with Frem, and former Brondby colleagues Joergen Henriksen (goalkeeper coach) and Henrik Jensen laugh it off.  “They are big rivals,” says Henriksen. “So I don’t see that happening. There was some talk a few years back, but no, it won’t happen.”

Henriksen, in his playing days, lined-up in goal for Hvidøvre and played in their Danish title winning-side of 1966, appearing against Real Madrid in the European Cup the following season. He recalls the days of local derbies with Frem that attracted relatively big crowds. “People used to sit in trees to watch the game and crowds would be around 10,000, there was a big game atmosphere when we played Frem,” he says.

Frem have endured financial problems on more than one occasion in recent years, but they are a club that inspires great loyalty from his hardcore support. “Frem is something of a cult club,” says current Head Coach, Henrik Jensen. “We have good crowds for the level we are playing (2.Division øst) and our supporters are quite fanatical. Frem is an old institution of the people – the workers – so people love the club with a passion.”

Frem and Hvidøvre are just two of the clubs in the capital. There’s B93, who play next door to the national stadium, Parken, and AB out at Gladsaxe. Then’s there’s Bronshoj and just outside Copenhagen, Lyngby and FC Nørdsjaelland – not to mention the clubs out on the line to the airport.

kbForty years ago, half of the top Danish division came from Copenhagen. Today, only FCK and Brøndby are on the top rung of the ladder and the latter is currently in crisis mode. But Brøndby can still outshine the outfit from the Parken  – “the city’s club” – when it comes to public attention. Explains Vilfort: “Last season, Brøndby had to win the final game against Horsens to stay up. We won [Vilfort is still employed by the club at youth level] and the TV and newspapers were full of Brøndby – while FCK were winning the Superliga. The club is still the big news in Denmark.”

Brøndby [and FCK] may be the big news, but the plethora of smaller clubs makes Copenhagen an interesting footballing location. And let’s not forget that Denmark was right at the forefront of the game’s development in the late 19th century.

Thanks to the Danish international trio of Jorgen Henriksen, Henrik Jensen and Kim Vilfort for their cooperation with this article.