Sunday the 20th of November saw Rosenborg win the NM Cup Final 4-0 vs Kongsvinger and thus completing the domestic double for the second year running. It also brought to an end the 2016 football season here in Norway, the first that I have covered as a photographer since I moved to these shores 5 years ago. Here is a selection of some of my favourite images from the past 7 months most of which have been captured at local football matches here in Stavanger with the exception of a couple of enjoyable trips to Oslo and FC Copenhagen of Denmark for the Champions League.
The Stavanger Premier League (SPL) has been running since 2008 and is a tournament set up for the Indian cricket fans living in Norway to be able to enjoy playing and supporting cricket.
The SPL cricket final was played at Lassa Ground, Stavanger, on Sunday the 3rd of July between the Indian Warriors and Stavanger Titans. The match was due to take place a day earlier, but due to the typical Stavanger summer weather, it was rained off.
The SPL games are played on a gravel oval and wicket; the heavy rollers that are common place on the grounds back home are replaced by a Mercedes Benz pulling a heavy piece of wood. A tennis ball is used instead of the traditional red ball; therefore players are not required to pad up or wear helmets.
Photographing a cricket tournament in the heart of Stavanger was a real bonus to my summer, especially as I got to witness the majestic style of spin bowlers and batsmen from the sub-continent that reminded me so much of my time in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
There was a real community spirit amongst the spectators which was helped, in part, by the event sponsors V-Mart, a local Indian store providing a traditional Indian feast at the lunch interval.
The game was reduced to 16 overs a side and was played under warm sunshine with around 50 spectators in attendance. There were curious glances from locals out on their Sunday strolls, taking a look, sitting down, and trying to understand what was going on 'out in the middle'.
The Titans batted first, made a steady start, but due to losing some cheap, quick wickets reached a total of 92 all out. The Warriors batsmen made light work of this total, and with some flamboyant strokes and shot play, chased down the total for the loss of only 1 wicket in 9 overs.
Scenes of jubilation followed as well as the presentation of all medals and winner's trophy, everyone went home happy, even this photographer who was presented with his own medal for his efforts during the day.
As most of the european leagues were concluding their seasons during the month of may, here in Norway they are only reaching halfway. Football is a summer sport over here which is great for me as an ex-pat because my interest in football now lasts all year round. Growing up in the 80´s and 90´s, if it wasn’t a tournament year, all we had to keep our interest in football going through the summer holidays were the Australian football pools that appeared in the newspapers on a Monday morning. I guess that´s why I became so interested in cricket at a young age.
With football taking part in the summer months, those cold windy nights stood on terraces are just a distant memory. Here in Stavanger, this year in particular, it has been ´sol,sol,sol´!
Photographing a summer sport whilst living at 59 degrees north also means that even evening kick-offs are mostly played in low sunlight or under shadows. This is great at certain stadiums that have picturesque views of mountains or forests in the backgrounds, however, due to the low attendances that have became associated with league football, empty seats and half built stands are more of a norm.
The early rounds of the Norwegian Cup progressed at a rapid rate during the month of may. There was much excitement in Stavanger because FK Vidar of the third division, as a result of their giant killing of Bryne in the previous round, got a home draw against top division side Viking Stavanger, to set up another local derby. Vidar were triumphant and now hold bragging rights over their ´big brother` from the Tippeligaen. This victory was quickly followed by a plumb draw in the next round, away to another Tippeligaen side, Vålerenga of Oslo, who play their home matches at the Norwegian national stadium, Ullevaal.
I was lucky enough to be invited along by the team to cover the events of this historic day which happened to be warm, sunny. Vidar were very unlucky to lose the game 3-1, with the scores level going in to the final moments of the tie. They played a team well above their current standard and more than held their own for most of the game. Hopefully they can take this form into the league, and who’s knows, maybe they will be playing at this level more regularly in the near future.
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