Whilst a large part of the Romsdal district was celebrating a truly magnificent and historic achievement, as ‘man of destiny’ Ole Gunnar Solskjær guided Molde FK to their first ever Tippeligaen title, (in his first season in charge, coinciding with their centenary year), a certain area of the Akershus County (Sandvika) had their own cause for a party.
Division 2 side Bærum SK finished the season on 51 points, three points clear of Kristiansund BK, to win the Fair Play-ligaen title and promotion to the Tippeligaen, much to the jubilation of frugal and considerate chairman Dag-Egil Strømme, tenacious and vibrant manager Morten Tandberg, his loyal and diligent coaching staff, the talented and exciting group of players and their hardcore and passionate contingent of supporters.
The 99-year-old yellow and black Sandvika Stadion based team have had very little to cheer about since they were established in 1910. They have had to fight for scraps of optimism since they were founded by Harald Julsrud and Hans Larsen and their desperation is captured by the fact, that their finest hour came against bitter rivals Vålerenga in 2004, in the 3rd round of the Norwegian Cup, where they ran out 3-2 winners.
They may be rambunctious but their supporters have had to endure year after empty year, being built up brick by brick for promotion and then failing each time, whilst rival supporters of Vålerenga, Stabæk and FK Lyn have taunted them with their stories of success. Until now.
Bærum have won Norwegian Championships in the form of ice hockey, team handball and bandy but they had never won anything in football until Morten Tandberg led them to their first ever title, which illuminates their outstanding achievement and the great distances travelled by Strømme, Tandberg and his coaching staff, to reach the heights that have contributed to their recent success.
Tanberg must be extremely grateful to have a fantastic, savvy chairman like Strømme, especially in the current climate of football, where manager/chairman relationships can be very fractious at the best of times.
Strømme has struck up an enormous rapport with very generous donors over the last seven years, especially with businessman Per Skalleberg, (who sadly passed away in July 2009) from whom the club have benefited tremendously, in the form of a reputable youth academy, club development in general, pitch maintenance, club house renovation and floodlight upgrades.
When a club like Bærum SK has strong, financial restraints, the small, intimate, detailed elements, that bigger clubs might well take for granted, are pivotal to the upkeep of a club, something which Strømme wholly recognises.
The future of the club is in very good hands because of Strømme’s exceptional accountancy skills, so there is no danger of them being dragged into a sea of debt anytime soon. His astute, keen eye on meeting club targets, by doing the basics in a professional and orderly fashion, as well as tackling the more intricate, robust and complex elements of running a club, with the utmost pride, indicates that he has the club’s key interests at heart.
This runs from youth development, right through to senior level, giving the club the best chances of making a household name for itself. He is a refreshing and extraordinary man, who genuinely wants his club to aspire to greatness and strives to do this in a legitimate and financially prudent manner.
Morten Tandberg is a man who feels the abject pain of a loss. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he instills this sense of loss into his players after every defeat, so that they will be more determined to receive a more satisfying feeling, by winning the next time round. He is dogged, spirited and constantly demands, that his team mirrors his hungry ethics, to pick up all three points, at all costs necessary.
His powerful virtues and his intensely focused mantra are the beats, to which his players perform to and this has lucidly had the desirable effect, right up to the end of their prosperous campaign.
He has done a terrific job because not only has he got his players motivated and relentlessly working for each other, he has got them playing a thoroughly attractive brand of football, so he can be very proud of his efforts.
When midfielder Mahdi Fayyaz left the club, supporters were deeply concerned about who was going replace their talismanic goal machine but players such as defender Thomas Finstad, captain/midfielder Lars Sandbu and striker Rozhat Shaswari have vitally ensured, that the team has a balanced dynamic, with fruitful goal scoring outlets.
Most of all, they have two raw, fresh, mouthwatering prospects in the form of Norwegian Under-19 striker Erblin Llullaku and 17 year old Norwegian striker Marius Lundemo, who has just received a recent international call up for the senior team. The future looks very promising for the club when they kickstart their season in a sturdy Tippeligaen, especially when they renew long standing bitter rivalries again.
This powerful mélange of never say die attitude and flare has led them to where they are now and their supporters feel more assured then ever, that their beloved club is heading in the right direction. If Strømme and Tandberg stick to their admirable principles, then Bærum SK’s centenary year and thereafter could well be very memorable indeed.
By Jonny Eyres
This article originally appeared in In Bed with Maradona