Roker Report Road Trip: FC Midtylland

Martin Rose

Following a sojourn to the Far East and conditions more suitable for ducks than pampered Premier League footballers, Paolo Di Canio’s men are once again heading to Ponteland International and jetting off for more pre-season goodness – this time to Denmark for the final game of this year's pre-season.

Those of you with a good memory may well remember a feature we ran a couple of summers ago now, The Roker Report Road Trip, where my ever-dependable research into weird and wonderful football teams that Sunderland were facing first saw the light of day. Note we didn't bother with this for the Asia Cup on account of knowing fine well who Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are, whilst Italy remained a slight mystery.

Well anyway, your ever-dependable guide is back, sort of.

So join me as I load up Google and Wikipedia so you don't have to!

Club

FC Midtylland have a history which wouldn't be out of place in a Roy of the Rovers comic strip, such is its uniqueness. Johnny Rune, a carpenter with his own business involved in the wood supply industry, along with Steen Hessel, a car salesman, embarked on a two-man crusade to unite two rival football clubs - Ikast FS and Herning Fremad.

Neither club had enjoyed any great success, although Ikast FC did make the finals of the Danish Cup twice in the 1980's and once again in 1997.

Incredibly a decade passed before Rune and Hessel were able to realise their dream of merging the two clubs when finally in April of 1999 the deal was confirmed and FC Midtylland was formed.

Recent success for the club includes promotion to the Danish Superliga in 2000 following a record breaking season in the First Division which saw the team achieve a record points haul.

If the name FC Midtylland rings a bell it may well be due to their exploits in the UEFA Cup, most notably with a famous victory over Manchester City in 2008/09. This was the Manchester side's only defeat to foreign opposition in the competition at the time; although the former Premier League Champions would go on to win in the return leg in Denmark, albeit on penalties.

The club have also made somewhat of a name for themselves with their commitment to scouting and the development of players and indeed were the first Danish side to establish their own academy. The most recognisable name, for Football Manager fans at least, to graduate from the club's academy is Simon Kjaer who went on to join Palermo in 2008 for around €4m.

Stadium

The Danish side moved into a new home in 2004; a 12000 capacity stadium based in Herning which was also the first ground in Denmark to sell sponsorship for the naming rights and was christened the MCH Arena.

Despite the catchy corporate name provided, the FC Midtylland fans have coined their own nickname for the ground - The Zidan Arena - in honour of the goalscoring exploits of a former striker who managed an incredible nine goals in the first three games hosted at the new stadium.

City

FC Midtylland is based within the Danish city of Herning, which boasts a population of around forty-five thousand give or take a few Danes. The city has seen rapid growth over the past one-hundred and fifty years as in 1840 the population of the then village was recorded as being just twenty-one.

Herning has evolved over its history, initially established as a centre of commerce for the wider area, providing much needed products and services for the local farmers, the town would then turn its attention textile-weaving before becoming an established market town in 1913.

Excitingly, Herning is home to Scandinavia's largest exhibition centre, The Messecenter Herning, which has given the city great prestige among the trade fair community. Think the Rainton Meadow Area, I imagine.

Bars

When it comes to drinking in Denmark, as I'm sure you are well aware if you are following the lads on this trip, it won't come cheap. However, if you have re-mortgaged to bankroll your trip you may well want to consider a trip to Murphy's Pub. Yes, an Irish Bar in Denmark, how very "British Tourist" I know, but a courtesy look on Trip Advisor finds this bar highly recommended.

If whisky is more your tipple you may well want to consider a trip to the Fox and Hounds, also located centrally in Herning. This Scottish pub boasts many different draught and imported beers as well as over fifty types of whisky.

There is also a "discotheque" called "60eren" which is "a dancing place where the grown up audience meet" according to www.visitherning.com - centrally located in Herning, I'll let you come to your own conclusions...

Fun Fact

"The Herning Museum includes an open-air section of old farmhouses."

One not to miss.

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