After the initial excitement had subsided a little I sat back and had a think about the FCN Glasgow journey. It truly is remarkable that some guys from Scotland find themselves heading over to Denmark once again to see a team they had hardly heard of three years ago. To be honest, I think most people know that our interest started with Pro Evolution Soccer but I think very few know just how ridiculously brilliant the whole journey is.
You see, to this day, when myself and the three other guys play the game we do go Nordsjaelland but we also play as one individual player - every game. This started in the early days with my player of choice being Morten Nordstrand. In fact, the whole thing has gotten wonderfully out of hand. We keep season stats, we vote for player of the year, reminisce about past performances. Steven wears a captain's armband, we sing songs about the team and keep the team up to date (which meant I parted ways with Nordstrand and now take control of Marcus Ingvartsen). Basically, it is total escapism for four guys who share beers, laughs and an over zealous attitude to a computer game. And it's brilliant.
However, the beauty of it all is that, as you know, it didn't stop there. We've followed the club since then and, of course, this culminated in myself and Mark's visit last year. So to bring it all together ahead of our next journey to Farum, I'm going to list my favourite things about Nordsjaelland and FCN Glasgow.
The thing that struck Mark and I when we visited was how accessible the club is to fans. We come from a world where players are at arms length and fans can often be an annoyance rather than a treat. Not so at FCN. On a day when he must have been bitterly disappointed that his late equaliser didn't secure a point Uffe Bech spent the best part of an hour making our day special. Emiliano Marcondes took time to record a video for Steven back home. Even Andreas Maxso managed to crack a smile at my drunken shouts of "goalkeeper" at him after he'd gotten himself sent off the previous week with handball heroics (sorry, Andreas). We were blown away with a club where players and fans are side by side, interconnected. It is something special and I can't wait for the other guys to experience it when we arrive in April.
As Mark and I mentioned in Farum, we are divided by loyalties in Scotland. Jon and myself are Celtic fans and Steven and Mark are Rangers fans. This is, of course, no problem to our friendship. However, it leaves four friends who love football unable to attend games, support teams together. FCN gives us that. It gives us the chance to shout, cheer, laugh and maybe even cry(depending on the result)together. Something that is very special and, without FCN, something that would be near impossible.
Our support of FCN shows football for what it is - a universal language. Football allows us to travel to a foreign country and have an instant bond with people we had never met before. An hour after meeting we were arm and arm with the Wild Tigers singing songs in a language we don't speak. What else gives you that? Nothing, I assure you. That's the joy of football. Too often football gets a bad reputation. FCN Glasgow and the bond created with the club show everything football can and should be.
I think all the boys would admit that one of the things that we love about FCN Glasgow is that we feel special. The club and its fans have always made us feel like we really matter to the club. We feel that they are really proud of of the fact they have us out here in Scotland supporting them and we love it. Maybe it's self indulgent, maybe it is egotistical but to be treated like we really matter is a wonderful thing. There was no greater testament to this than our visit to Farum last year. Mark and I felt like minor celebrities that day and it is something we'll never forget.
The thing I love most right now is that FCN Glasgow is growing. In May the four main members will visit Farum. However, the chances are we will bring three other friends too. Three friends who are not quite hardcore FCN fans but could be soon. They've heard about our journey with FCN and want to be part of it! I truly think our affiliation with the club will never go away. Some day I'll be getting married and part of me thinks a great plan for my "stag do" (don't know the Danish equivalent, sorry) should be a trip with all my friends to Farum. I may even end up setting foot in Farum with my kids one day, who knows?
The bottom line is, a chance press of a button on an Xbox created something very special. We chose FCN but FCN also chose us. They didn't have to. They could have sent us the odd tweet and acknowledged our support from afar. They didn't. They embraced us. Brought us in. Fans and players alike.
I like the statement above a lot. I think it sums up the whole journey wonderfully well.
We chose FCN. And they chose us.
To all at the club I say, tak!
And Vi er FC Nordsjaelland