Today’s blog focuses on the 16 of May football (that’s soccer for the two Americans or Aussies in the audience, but the Aussies already knew of course). This year, I got to go to my very first Brann (Bergen’s team) football game accompanied by Marianne, the Norwegian blogger – and it happened to be the 16 Mai game. Apparently the 16 Mai game is the best game to go to for football fervor and enthusiasm. So, without further ado, let’s sing Bergen’s city anthem (there is a sample in the video below) and take a look at the 3 best things about attending the 16 Mai .
Okay, I admit it, I’m not that sporty. Well, I enjoyed playing sports, especially soccer (football) and basketball when I was a child. However, I noticed that when watching sports (especially baseball and american football) I was either bored or ‘that angry person yelling at the ref’, and I didn’t like either of those things – so I gave up on being a sport-spectator early on. But football is an ancient sport, and the most popular sport worldwide (so I probably don’t need to tell you that because you’re already a fan, or at least aware of its popularity). As an American non-sport-spectator, though, it felt culturally important to experience a game in Europe. And I was told by a co-worker that this was “the” game to experience in Norway!
A beautiful day and a beautiful view from the stadium. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Paragliders kept looking like they were about to land on the field! Entertainment abounds! Photos: Stand Hiestand
Want to beef up your Norwegian football knowledge? You can read more about Norwegian football here.
And what do I think about watching a football match in Norway? Well, not that it is specific to Norway, but I will say the hammy-acting of the players who were ‘fouled’ has the potential to entertain!
2. 16 Mai
The match on the 16 Mai (16th of may) is one of the most anticipated of the season and 16 Mai can be referred to as “the national day of football” in Norway. It precedes a holiday, 17 Mai or Constitution Day, and games may be better attended on 16 Mai. Still not clear on the importance of the 17 Mai? Take a look at my past blog Syttende Mai (17th of May).
Norwegian-pride at the 16 Mai game. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Football! Photo: Stand Hiestand
So was this game well-attended? Certainly! The stadium appeared to be pretty packed – and plenty of attendees decked themselves out appropriately with red, Brann-gear, or Brann-scarves. And indeed the fans seemed to be out, and unfortunately I think I annoyed several of them by trying to wander around a bit and get novel angles for photos. While, I was not trying to dally in one place, apparently I paused on the stairs for a few seconds too long and got a push from behind from a serious female-fan. Sorry guys! Just trying to bring your passion to the people.
Trying to get novel angle for photos led to me pissing off Norwegian fans, sorry guys. But, the good news is, Brann did win 1-0. Photos: Stand Hiestand
Fans of the team like this young man called to their favorite players during half-time. Photo: Stand Hiestand
One other observation was the total lack of alcohol within the stadium. While in the U.S., too they pat you down and confiscate any beverages from you at the door, once inside concession stands provide overpriced terrible beer. But, in Norway, it seems you must either “forspill” (pre-party), as you would before going out on the town for the night, or just go for the sober love of the game alone (and maybe the love of a sausage).
Here’s why you get to the game early on the most popular game of the season. The pat-downs slow down the long line into the stadium. Photo: Stand Hiestand
1. Team Chants
If you’re a football fan you already know there are fan chants that are sung – especially by what appears to be a select group of (self-appointed?) ‘superfans’ that sit behind one of the goals and cheer their team on nearly the entire game. You may have guessed too, that I quoted a part of one such chant in this blog’s title.
Superfans doing their job right. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Apparently some fan chants are historic (having been traditional since the club’s formation), often there are chants which are popular song adaptations. While traditions may differ in different countries, many teams use chants specific to their club rivals, even at games where they are playing different teams! That happened at the game I attended. Marianne, the Norwegian blogger, hails from near Trondheim. The rivalry between Bergen and Tronheim is notable. At one point she turned to me to tell me the Brann fans were singing about her team, and it was breaking her heart. And after she’d gone all out to support Brann, too!
Marianne trying to put her heart into supporting Brann (to be broken later by the Brann-fans singing about her home team). Photo: Stand Hiestand
I also attempted fan-dom. My nose is the A in BRANN, get it? Get it? Okay, I said ATTEMPTED, didn’t I? Photo: Stand Hiestand
Wanna know what they’re saying at the Brann games? Here’s a link to some of the chants used for Brann. But make sure you’ve got your google translator at the ready…
Or, take a look and a listen to this short clip of Brann-song!
Even my walk home was filled with Brann-pride. Photo: Stand Hiestand