April was a very busy month in the sporting calendar here in Stavanger, along with the arrival of spring comes the beginning of the new Norwegian football season. April also saw the conclusion of the national ice hockey season, in which the Stavanger Oilers won the national league, followed by a triumphant display in the play-off championships.
I also experienced photographing the sport of trav for the first time in my career. This is a year round sport, otherwise known as horse trotting in England, that takes part at Forus Travbane here in Stavanger. There are events during the day as well as evening meets, so I intend to re-visit this over the course of the next few months.
As well as the Norwegian football league starting in spring, April saw the commencement of the NM Cup which is the Norwegian equivalent of the F.A.Cup in England. The difference here is that the early round draws are fixed so that small local teams get a home fixture against one of the bigger teams from the area. This is such a good idea because it provides a much needed injection of money to the smaller clubs and creates a real festival atmosphere where hundreds, if not thousands of people squeeze into a stadium that usually attracts a handful of loyal, local spectators. The stadiums are often very small but full of character, a long way from some of the soulless bowls of the modern era.
Playing on these small pitches can be quite unusual for the higher ranked sides and therefore extra-time, penalty shoot-outs and ´cup upsets` occur quite frequently in the earlier rounds of the cup.
The sun still sits quite low in the sky at this time of the year in Stavanger, so on the rare days when it does actually stop raining, combined with the lower stands at the small stadiums, the lighting conditions can be quite beautiful.