The long and short of it is this…never let your friend book your flight for you.
Imagine travelling thousands of miles to see your team get absolutely slaughtered. You’d want nothing more than the comfort of your hotel room, a local restaurant, or a bar to dissect what went wrong and to sip your pint of water as you try to digest the face that Derry City may not win the Europa League this coming season.
But if you’re travelling with Kevin Moore, you have no such luck. Instead you have to get straight onto the road because you have to drive to Copenhagen airport to get your flight back at 7am the morning after the match. There’s no few hours kip, there’s no stopping for a bite to eat, it’s straight up the road. Oh, but that’s not all….’Didn’t I tell you we aren’t flying straight to Dublin? Sorry, we’re flying to Oslo, just for a three hour stopover, then we’re flying to Dublin. Then it’s three hours up the road and we’re home….simples’.
Why didn’t you just get the charter flight with the club? That’s the question you might be asking, and it was one I was asking myself as I ran into the well-rested and comfortable Derry City contingent in Herning, two whole days after landing, but I changed my tune ultimately when I heard the charter had an absolute nightmare in coming home the day after the match. No one got off lightly it seems.
If Derry had gotten a result, maybe, maybe it would have been worth it, but this was so clearly not worth it that I have promised myself never to travel with Moore again, or to at least book my own flight.
That was just the end of the trip.
Flying into Denmark on the Tuesday, it would be safe to assume that we were in the right place to prepare for the Europa League tie on the Thursday. But instead, we landed in Denmark, and had to drive to Malmo in Sweden to stay in an apartment.
Copenhagen to Malmo is like from Springtown to Muff so it’s not too bad, but why not just go to Herning, where the game was being actually played, instead of the opposite direction? I consoled myself with the fact that I always wanted to visit Sweden.
Sweden….home of Abba and Zlatan it might well be, but when it comes to Malmo….I’ll not be back.
The all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet aside, there was nothing redeeming about Malmo, which was as busy as Foyle Street on a Sunday morning, although it did smell better.
Unless you love cycling and playing chicken with passing pedestrians, there is nothing to do in Malmo, unless you actually sell bikes, or buffet breakfasts.
Copenhagen was slightly more livelier…think Smyth’s car park on a Saturday night with all the laaaadss (awww what, look at me spoiler!)
The Danish capital may have its finer points (they are obsessed with ‘The Little Mermaid’ statue), but if you want to find them, don’t take the red bus tour…which consists of long periods of silence as you move through slow-moving traffic, before some fella starts screaming out of the blue.
The only thing of note on the tour was the quote ‘If you listen closely and the wind is blowing right, you may yet heard the quill of Hans Christian Andersen scribbling away…’ as we passed his house. The tour guide may well have been smoking something not so Danish.
Driving Miss Daisy
From there it was on to Herning, four hours down the road in torrential rain. We’re all used to that here, but when you’re also trying to adjust to the fact that you drive on the right hand side, whilst dealing with a Sat Nav which warns you of a turn 0. 4 seconds before it appears, it can make for some hairy moments on the way.
Luckily Moore made up for his awful travel planning by not crashing the car, although wee Patsy and Patricia driving right behind him might have a few choice Danish insults to describe his driving instead. What’s Danish for ‘Driving Miss Daisy’?
Then came the build up to the game itself, and that was when the weariness all fell away. Stepping into the MCH Arena brought home just what level of football we were at, and the excitement well and truly kicked in.
There is something to be said about travelling away with your team to Europe, and it is the moments before a game, when hope is at its fiercest and your blind loyalty causes you to come out with some ridiculous predictions, that you really get the goose bumps.
It really is what football is all about.
Derry City fans make their mark wherever they go, and to their credit, there’s never a moments’ bother. They again mixed well with the FC Midtjylland fans and there was genuine good will amongst both sets of supporters on the way into the stadium; young mixing with young and old mixing with old, all together to support their teams, even if financially and ability-wise, the clubs are streets apart.
But football can through a few curve balls as we all know (What’s happening Gothenburg?), and we all had hope…for three minutes.
It started to go badly very quickly and by half time we were all down in the dumps. By full time, there was a lot to digest, and a lot of disappointment to swallow very quickly. This was not the Derry City of 2006, but we so wanted it to be a result to remember and a night of glory for so many young players.
Maybe that result still lies ahead. The draw was very unfortunate as this Midtjylland team will no doubt progress much further into the competition, and maybe Derry City will restore some pride in the second leg this Thursday. But there is always next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
This young Derry City team will grow stronger and wiser, and although we will all have to endure bad nights and bad results, when it does happen, it makes it so worthwhile being there.
That’s the thing about following your local team here, there and everywhere. It’s worth it. It really is.
Just don’t let Kevin Moore book your flights.
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