It was surreal watching the draw taking place out in Switzerland and hearing the name of
"Queen of the South FC" being drawn to play in the UEFA cup. We have certainly came a long way,not only in terms of distance
but in performance since we beat Peterhead 5-0 up at Balmoor stadium last November. Winning this match was the start of an
epic journey all the way to the final against Rangers at Hampden park on May 24th 2008. I was at all the games except our
classic semi-final win over Aberdeen which was also played at Hampden Park. This famous 4-3 victory will live in my mind forever
even though I was watching the game courtesy of Sky Sports in a bar in the French Alps. Anyway I had been at Peterhead and
had then saw our following victories over Linlithgow Rose,Morton and Dundee as well as see us go so close to winning
the cup that fine sunny day back in May. When we levelled the Cup final at 2-2 with Captain Jim Thomsons great header I really
felt we were on our way to lifting the famous trophy. In the end we lost 3-2 but the team had given their all and we could
not ask for anything more. The consolation prize for being runners-up in the final was to get a place in the 2nd qualifying
round of the UEFA cup.
I had been looking at the maps to see where all our possible opponents were based and how
difficult it would be to get to the away leg. When FC Nordsjaelland were drawn against us I knew they were from near Copenhagen
and that there were plenty of flight options. I had earlier registered to travel with the official club trip but when nothing
was announced a few days after the draw I decided it was time to get on with it myself. Got together with Gordon Rae and my
sister in law Julie and we searched around to see what our best options would be. Flight prices were increasing as the large
number of travelling fans began to book up so we had to make our move. We found that the Scandinavian low cost carrier Sterling
Air flew from Nottingham East Midlands Airport. They had a flight going out at 12:40am on the Monday , returning at 11:00
on the Wed. This was ideal as the game had been moved from the Thursday night to the Tuesday because of other Danish teams
being involved in European action at the same time. We got the flights all booked up then went to look for a cheap central
Hotel. Found the Absalon Hotel and booked that via Expedia. Flights and Hotel for two nights all for £265. Match tickets for
the away leg went on sale at Palmerston and sold really well. They were reasonably priced at £15 each and the club moved around
850 tickets in total which was a great achievement. The first leg had been moved to Airdries Shyberry Exelcsior Stadium as
Palmerston was limited by having only around 3500 seats. The game at Airdrie only got the go ahead to be played 45 minutes
before kick-off because of torrential rain earlier in the day. Queens lost an early goal and although we fought back well
and levelled with a fine Sean O'Connor header we then gave away another soft goal and went in 2-1 down at the interval. In
the second half we just could not get on level terms and it left us a mountain to climb to win the tie over in Denmark. I
felt we could still do it and as the second leg got closer by the day more and more people felt the same and there was a feeling
that we could make history and get through to the 1st round proper.
I was working on the Sunday but when I got home at 6pm that night I was getting excited about
this trip and that night in bed I certainly did not sleep too well. The alarm clock went off at 5am and I was soon up for
a shower and a shave. I picked up the morning papers and headed out to Locharbriggs to pick up Gordon,then to Heathhall for
Julie and Kirsty before a final stop at Noblehill for Kirstys pal Stacy.
We left Dumfries just before 6.30am on deserted roads. It was a bank holiday down in England
and I was not sure how busy the roads would be. We made excellent progress down the M6,had one quick stop at a service station
then soon we were cutting off the motorway at J16 towards Stoke on Trent and the A50 past Uttoxeter racecourse and on to the
airport. We had only taken about 3.5 hours. The car parks were busy but we found a space then wandered over to the departures
building. We went to the small bar area and grabbed a table and then had the first beer of the day, a nice thirst quenching
pint of Grolsch.
We were soon joined by Brian and Titch and within an hour or so the airport was swarming
with Queens fans. We then checked in but were informed that there was a 2 hour delay. We went through to the departure lounge
where we were given a voucher for refreshments to the value of £7. With this I had a nice plate of Scampi and Chips. A couple
more beers and we were soon boarding the plane for Copenhagen. It was an uneventfull flight and we were soon on the train
to central station (Hovedbanegard). It was then a short walk round the corner to find the Hotel. The girls were booked into
the main part of the Hotel while Gogs and I were in the Annexe, a cheaper option at the back. It worked out well as it was
on the 4th floor facing out onto a quiet back courtyard and we never heard any noise over the two nights (maybe the vast amounts
of Tuborg we consumed had something to do with that). It only cost £35 each per night and was great value.
We dropped our bags in the room and headed out, we were in the heart of the Citys red light
district and the ladies of the night were all out on display but we were far more interested in getting down to the QOS HQ
at the Dubliner bar. It was a 15 minute walk away past Tivoli gardens, onto the Stroget pedestrian area and down to Amagertov.
It was easy to find and Queens fans were swarming all around and it was not long before we could hear the "railway line" being
sang with passion and pride. The management of the Dubliner had put the Tuborg down to DK33 for our visit and that was much
appreciated by the travelling Doonhamers. The atmosphere was something else and having been to many big matches over the years
this was the tops. It was brilliant chatting to fans I had not seen for a while as well as all the regulars from our away
days with the travel club. We were dancing on the tables and then when we thought things could not get much better along comes
our chairman Davie Rae, the next thing he is up on the stage giving us all a passionate ,straight from the heart address,
quite brilliant. Managed to give him a good shake of the hand as he left. The next thing I knew was that it was 2am and time
to wander back to our Hotel. It had been quite some evening.
After a decent nights sleep we were up by 9am, a shower and a shave and we were on our way
out for a walk. We were again approached by the street girls offering their services but after politely declining we made
our way out to the wide open streets of the Vesterbrogade and down to Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard where we had a recce
to see where the buses would be leaving for Farum Park in the afternoon. We stopped every few yards to speak to other fellow
supporters on what was still a slightly overcast if somewhat warm and muggy morning. We crossed over and walked down the Stroget
where we chatted to Bill Goldie the Queens Press Officer who told us that there would be an exciting announcement being made
the following afternoon. What could this be we wondered but Bill would give nothing away.
Of course the good news was eventually revealled at 2pm the following day when we were told
that our Manager Gordon Chisholm and his assistant Kenny Brannigan had signed new contracts through to 2010. It was followed
by the news of two excellent young players in David Weatherston and Tom Parratt signing for us.
We arrived at the Dubliner bar where Brian and Titch had been in residence for quite a while.
Gogs and I ordered a full breakfast and washed it down with a nice pint of Tuborg. We sat and watched as the troops began
to pour into the area. We had a street entertainer treat us to a fine display of skill as he juggled two small balls
with his feet to the delight of those gathered around, it got even better as he donned a Queens shirt and if Gordon Chisholm
had been there he might just have signed him up !
I sat back down at our table just inside the pub and we were all happily discussing the game,
the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and everyone was in fine form. I then bought 5 teams from one of Palmylads scratchcards
and before I put my wallet away I went back up to the bar to order some more drinks. I took money from my wallet, handed it
to the girl behind the bar, got my drinks then went to put the change back in my wallet and to my amazement the wallet had
gone. Had a quick look on the ground and frantically checked my other pockets but it had been swiped. Having travelled far
and wide for many years including all through Eastern Europe I had never fell foul of this sort of crime before. Luckily I
soon spotted the Dumfries and Galloway Police liason officer with his Danish counterparts and I reported the theft, then had
a desperate hour trying to cancel my bank card. Once that was done I could relax again and rejoin the party. Luckily I was
surrounded by friends and fellow Queens fans and I was grateful to get another match ticket, so thanks Wendy. Luckily Julie
lent me some cash and we were sorted. In no time we were walking down to the City hall on H.C Andersen Bvd and getting onto
the free buses provided by our opponents FC.Nordsjaelland.
On arrival at Farum Park the sun was shining and you could not fail to be impressed by the
excellent and varied facilities. A 10K compact stadium with Hotel and conference facilities,Squash courts,Tennis courts, football
pitches and more. We went into the Hotel, had a bite to eat and a few beers then went outside to soak up the atmosphere and
welcome the team buses when they arrived. At 6.20 we made our way into the ground and watched the lads warming up. The game
was soon underway and we only had to wait 2 minutes for Bob Harris to strike with a stunning free kick from well outside the
box. We were right behind the goals and knew it was going in long before it got near the net. The place went wild and it was
now game on, we still needed another goal to go through but the players were playing so well and were so full of confidence
I really felt we could do it. Half time approached and it was great to look up at the giant scoreboard and see it showing
FCN 0 QOS 1.
In the second half the lads never gave up and we came close to the elusive 2nd goal a few
times but the legs were beginning to go and with the clock ticking down rapidly the Manager only had one option and that was
to throw everyone forward in one last attempt to clinch the tie. Sadly we could not get another goal and with the door left
open at the back the home side scored twice in the last 5 minutes to go through to Fridays 1st round draw. The two late goals
were a real disappointment to players,officials and fans alike but the team had done us proud, every one of them had given
their all and we could ask for no more. They got a standing ovation and it was a very emotional time when the players came
over to applaud the travelling support. It was also a lovely touch when the Nordsjaelland players and their Manager Morten
Wieghorst also came over to aknowledge us.
As we left this lovely stadium to head back to the busses we were applauded by the home fans
and were given words of comfort and best wishes for a safe journey home. FCN are a special club and we could not have travelled
to a better place, friendships have been formed and it would be great to return next Summer for a pre season friendly or to
hvae FCN play at Palmerston.
Once back to Copenhagen we headed back to our Hotel and I told the receptionist that my room
key had been stolen along with my wallet and after checking that nobody had actually been into our room we headed back into
the City. Reports were that the Dubliner was really busy so we met up with Brain, Titch and Bill Windsor and family at Straekers
where we were entertained by a couple singing. Had another couple of Beers in the Queen Vic then called it a night.
Got up the next morning feeling pretty fresh but ready to get home. Met up in the Hotel lobby
before walking in the rain to the Station. As my train ticket had been in my wallet when it went awol I was in two minds whether
to risk getting on the train without a replacement, I was going to risk it until I noticed the signs saying it was a DK600
fine if caught without one so it was back up to the ticket office for a single to the airport.
A bite to eat and a chat with a few fellow fans and our flight left on time. Sat between
Gogs and Willie Johnston from the BBC and I think we all spent most of the time in the air snoozing.
Only hold up was trying to get them to lift the barrier to get the car out of the car park
but we were soon on our way onto the A50 and then the M6. I dropped everyone off and got home just in time for some dinner
and away out to work at 5.30pm for a 12 hour nightshift.
I would not have missed this trip for the world and who would have thought 6 Months ago that
we would have just played a couple of games in the UEFA cup. Magic.