The View from the Bar

So, regular readers of this column (there must be thousands of you), will doubtless be aware that I spend a fair bit of time in Denmark. Specifically, the western side of Jutland, facing out to the opposite side of the North Sea. It’s hella windy there, and it seems raining as often as not, but I like it there, (although it’s a bit quiet for some of my colleagues, one of whom once memorably described it as “a country of outstanding natural boredom” – funny, but a bit harsh).
I get to a fair few football matches out there – sometimes at FC Midtjylland (last year’s Supaliga champions), occasionally at Esbjerg (tiny crowds but a great ground), and every now and again somewhere a bit further afield, like Horsens or Viborg. When I get the chance, though, I love to visit the local team RIF Ringkobing – they play in the regional section of the Danish second division, theoretically at the same level of football as Pompey although they rarely play before more than a few hundred people people and, surprisingly, they don’t even have floodlights at their modest yet likeable Landbobank Arena home. They do have an impressive 500-ish seat concrete stand though, with a bar and barbecue in the back row, so you can eat and drink to your heart’s content and never miss a kick.
There’s a lot about the place that reminds me of Westwood, not least of all the fact they play in blue and white stripes (the eagle-eyed amongst you have probably spotted nipper running round Cowes in his Ringkobing shirt). It’s a friendly little club, and the more time you spend around the place, the more you notice how embedded they are in their town – the club flag outside the butchers, the fella in the RIF tracksuit peddling around town on his tricycle with a trailer on the back, and the scarf up behind the bar in one of the two local hotels.
The Danish have got a damn fine attitude when it comes to work/life balance, and as a nation they’re regularly heralded as the happiest, and most content, in the world. It’s easy to see why. Although there might not seem to be much going on on the surface (perhaps leading to my colleague’s somewhat negative view of the locale), there’s a ton of stuff going on once you know where to look. A massive part of the national psyche drives the Danes to engagement with local clubs and societies (on average, the Danish are members of at least 2-3 local clubs or societies of one description or another), and I think that’s what I like – the genuine pleasure they take from being involved in activities in the local community, and the sense of satisfaction gleaned from this kind of participation. It’s not reliant on the biggest, or the most glamorous or famous, and it’s not validated on screens, or likes, or whatever. It’s real life, and they’re making it happen.
Which is pretty much what happens up here of a Saturday (and through the week if you’re one of the hardy band who help keep the club running). Don’t underestimate the value of what we have here, at Cowes Sports Football Club (and at countless other clubs and societies around the place). The more we all put in, the more we all get out of it – it never hurts to remember that.
Enjoy the game.

Toby.

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