Thursday, 29 May 2014

Why the Danes were dynamite

It’s been a while since I was so excited about the arrival of a book. But look. Just look at the cover of Danish Dynamite, by Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen and Mike Gibbons (Russell Enterprises).

One of the most ‘cult’ teams of any era, the Denmark international side of the 1980s was above all an exciting, attack-minded team that thrilled those watching, particularly if you, like me, were a football-mad youngster becoming increasingly seduced by the sport.

Within our family, my general memory, particularly about my childhood, is famed for its terribleness. But there are some things that remain vivid and one is when, perhaps when I was maybe 15/16, the football team I played for decided to get a new kit. And for the first time, after a period of sustained success, the players themselves were allowed to have some input.

My favourite player for a long time was Manchester United’s Jesper Olsen, a slight, quicksilver Danish winger who shined on the international stage but largely failed to deliver on English shores (for any Charlton fans reading, he was the Dennis Rommedahl of his day). But when he sparkled, his effortless balance allowing him to evade the flailing limbs trying in vain to impede his progress, it was a sight to behold (check out this, or this).

It wasn’t only me obsessed with the Danes. Even those with no interest in fashion (me again!) recognised that they wore arguably the greatest kits football had ever seen, the traditional colours of red and white taken to an entirely new level. So when we were given the choice, our group of 20-odd teenagers unhesitatingly selected a kit similar to the Danes’.

There were issues, of course. International and professional football teams largely have dedicated staff to wash their kit; the equivalent for boys’ teams was their mums, who were usually harassed, short of time and resenting it was their turn in the rota. As a result, it wasn’t long before the red and white of the tops washed into one another and produced a new colour altogether…

That none of us were concerned about the fetching shade of pink we ended up sporting tells its own story. Such was the esteem in which Danish Dynamite were held, we were so cool that that even opposing players would tell us during games that they were jealous of our strip.

Just look at that book cover again. I can’t wait…
  • This, published by the Guardian, is a terrific read about the Danish Dynamite team of the mid-1980s.

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