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BBC Radio Manchester Features
Ian hangs onto a statue's snowy knee
City's European tour: Back to Denmark
Manchester City's latest European outing sees them return to Denmark to take on FC Copenhagen - which gave Ian Cheeseman a chance to take a trip to the country's neighbour, Sweden, and have a stroll around Hans Christian Andersen's home town.
Day 1 - to Malmö and back
During my last trip to Denmark, when City travelled to FC Midtjylland back in August, I revealed my love of bridges, so I couldn't resist the chance to cross the best of the lot, the Öresund Bridge between Demark and Sweden (the Swedish spelling, as I'm headed in that direction - coming back, it'll be the Danish spelling, Øresund).
Ian in front of the Oresund Bridge
I visited this region years ago and made the same journey by ferry, but that's not the same as doing it by bridge, across a manmade island and through a tunnel under the sea.
It takes about 35 minutes by train to make the journey from Copenhagen to Malmö, and I have to admit there were times during my hours on the other side that I'd forgotten which country I was in. I'm sure the locals wouldn't like me saying it, but there's little that seems to distinguish the two cultures - they use different currencies and speak different languages, but apart from that...
Ian with Lisa Gustafsson
In the centre of Malmö, I called in at the tourist office and was given the low-down on where to go by Lisa Gustafsson, who was wearing a feather boa to celebrate the upcoming visit of the heats of the Eurovision Song Contest.
She told me that "most things worth seeing are within walking distance. We are called the 'Town of Parks' and we are more laid back than Copenhagen. You can relax here and have fun too. The bridge means we visit each other quite often and it's quite a bit cheaper here."
She also revealed that Malmö once belonged to Denmark - which explained a lot.
On Lisa's recommendation, I caught the Number 3 bus to Malmo's football stadium, which proved to be two-in-one, the old Malmö Stadium and, next door, the almost completed Swedbank Stadium, due to open in April.
Ian at Malmö's 'Turning Torso'
I had a look around both and bumped into Jan Möller, the goalkeeper beaten by a Trevor Francis header in Munich in the 1979 European Cup Final. After joking that he didn't want to talk about it, the keeper, who also played for Bristol City and Canada’s Toronto Blizzard, told me it was still the biggest day in the Malmö's history.
He went on to give me his views in City's chances against FC Copenhagen, and his is an opinion worth noting – after all, as he explained, Malmö "play training games against Copenhagen regularly."
"They beat us 4-1 in a friendly a couple of weeks ago," he continued, "and they played well in that game. Despite that, I think a draw would be a good result for FCK."
It was time to head back to Denmark, so I walked through the historic old town, past the statues, open air ice-rink and afternoon shoppers with snow now gently falling, and the temperature hovering around -3 degrees.
The fake stand inside FC Copenhagen's stadium
Back across the bridge and up to the Parken Stadium, where City had just arrived for their evening training session.
I hadn't realised the stadium had a roof, so there's no danger of the weather affecting the game, but the pitch looked a bit like a patch-work quilt - no real surprise when I discovered it was freshly laid by a company from Scunthorpe, under the supervision of their Preston-born groundsman on Monday evening. You couldn't make that sort of thing up, could you?
And it gets better - it had been relaid because a show presenting all that's new in the world of that well known children’s educational toy, Lego, had been staged there for four days and the boarding used underfoot had ruined large sections of the grass. Hopefully, that’s a lesson learnt by FC Copenhagen – and one noted by City, bearing in mind their use of Eastlands for concerts in the summer.
Hopefully, the lessons will be in football on Thursday evening, with City teaching Copenhagen a thing or two about football - Robinho and Richards trained, which suggests they're fit, but whether they, and their team mates, turn up on the night remains to be seen.
last updated: 20/02/2009 at 11:49