Reds in Copenhagen: A travelling fan's tale

Thursday 09 November 2023 22:00

You can sometimes forget how lucky we are to be able to follow our club around Europe and go with our friends and fellow Reds to amazing cities like Copenhagen.

Yes, the result on the pitch at Parken was really disappointing but overall it was still a brilliant trip. Here are some of the reasons why...


My brother Kieran and I flew out from Manchester on Monday morning, got to our hotel in Copenhagen at about 4pm and went straight out to explore the city. We went to the the old meat-packing district, which is now like a myriad of food courts with plenty of local beer on offer too. As early as that evening, still 48 hours before kick-off, you could see pockets of Reds - whether it was supporters wearing scarves or just familiar faces we recognised.

Obviously the football, watching United play, is the focal point. But in the days leading up to the game, you get to experience these beautiful cities with your mates, sharing this common interest and the buzz that creates. The first two days were essentially spent wandering through Copenhagen, visiting the many watering holes. And as the time went on, more and more Reds started emerging.


As well as (over?) indulging in the meat-packing district, we enjoyed the beautiful Nyhavn Harbour - a tourist hub, it was great to see so many United scarves and flags there and walking through Christiania, which is a commune, a hotbed of different cultures and communities. For a relatively small capital, it still has a lot of different aspects and a lot going on. It has its fancy high-rise buildings like any other city but these are juxtaposed by the avant-garde separation of Christiania. It felt very chilled-out to me, with seemingly more bicycles than cars. A very colourful city, both literally and metaphorically.


There's always a buzz when United are in town but it was particularly noticeable this time because the club obviously has a huge Scandinavian following. There were official supporters club events on Tuesday night and pre-match on Wednesday evening where there was a mixture of native Reds and travelling Reds coming together. Many of the local fans come across to Old Trafford fairly regularly throughout the course of the season and it's a massive commitment for them. So they were obviously buzzing to have United in their home town and travelling Reds were welcomed in bars such as 'The Happy Pig' and 'Proud Mary'. Some had black and red balloons outside so we knew we were in the right place!


I know some United fans flew out to Copenhagen even though they were unable to buy a match ticket. Away fans normally occupy the entirety of one stand at Parken but for some reason, and I believe it was the same when Bayern Munich played there, we were only offered two blocks of seats. So some of my fellow Reds missed out on match tickets but because they had already booked flights, they still travelled, to be part of the experience and show their support in the city if not at the stadium itself. That's testament to their commitment because it cost them a lot of money and they didn't even get to the game. There are few, if any, better away followings than United's. As Denis Irwin said in an interview I saw in the app, we always turn out in force.


Before the game, we spoke to a group of Copenhagen Ultras who sit in the part of the ground known as Sektion 12 - the most vocal part of the stadium. They weren't feeling particularly confident but told us, "You're going to get a great atmosphere." I saw their manager's comments about Parken being more intense than Old Trafford but having been there last night, I would say it was nothing on Seville - that was one of the best atmospheres I've experienced. That said, the Copenhagen Ultras explained they had been told by their club not to jump in unison when they were singing at Parken, as you might have seen them doing at Old Trafford, because they were worried about the structural integrity of the stand. I thought their Ultras, sat opposite us, were still fantastic but I found that the stands to our left and right were pretty quiet and that was especially true when we went 2-0 up.


It was brilliant when Rasmus Hojlund's first goal went in. He's been a revelation, particularly in Europe. We were literally right in front of him when he came over to the fans to celebrate and it sounds silly now but at the time I thought, 'If it all goes pearshaped after this, at least we'll have this moment!' In Denmark, you can drink in the stands, so there was a concoction of limbs, cups and beer flying everywhere. For a moment, I thought my brother was at the bottom of a pile-on, so I was pulling fans away from where I thought he was. Then I realised he was about ten yards to my right, stood on a seat with his arms aloft. It was absolute chaos and that continued with our second goal.


Going into the game, I wasn't bothered at all about a good performance, I just wanted the points. But for the first 40 minutes, it looked like we were going to get both. Then Marcus Rashford was shown the red card, Copenhagen came back and suddenly it was 2-2. It all happened so quickly that some of the fans who went down to the concourse a few minutes before half-time to get the beers in missed all that drama, so there was a state of disbelief and annoyance. I said to Kieran in frustration, 'Can we not just get a break?' So many marginal things seem to have gone against us this season when it comes to VAR.

Highlights: FC Copenhagen v United Video

Highlights: FC Copenhagen v United

Watch the decisive moments as the Reds lose by the odd goal in seven at Parken Stadium...


Of everything that was good about United last night, it was that period in the second half when we took the lead again, through Bruno Fernandes's fantastic penalty, that impressed me the most. Accusations have been levelled against the players about their mentality and how they deal with setbacks, but I thought they dealt with Rashford's red card really well. After Bruno scored to make it 3-2, I was thinking 'we might just get through this' but then a momentary lapse of concentration cost us. That can happen when you've played with 10 men for so long, including 13 minutes of injury time at the end of the first half. After they equalised, Copenhagen's tails were up and of course they went on to get another goal.


We deserved something from the game and to have it so cruelly taken away is just sickening. But I think at some point the opposite will happen and we'll be coming home with a memorable European away win. Hopefully we'll get that next time in Istanbul and still qualify for the knockout stages. In the meantime, let's take the positives from the performance and if we can produce a similar one against Luton, we should go into the international result on the back of a good result. Let's get behind the lads again on Saturday.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.