The main town of Midtjylland, Denmark’s Cental Jutland, Herning is also home to the most up-and-coming club in Scandinavia: FC Midtjylland.
Only formed in 1999, FC Midtjylland (‘FCM’) won their first Danish title in 2015, after several top-three finishes since acceding to the Superliga in 2000. FCM are leaders in the domestic game in other ways, too. The club’s contemporary MCH Arena in the town’s south-western outskirts is part of an expansive hub for leisure events and trade fairs, the Messecenter Herning, which will also include a business park and drive-in cinema. On the playing side, FCM initiated a first Danish football academy, with links to FC Ebedei of Nigeria and Brentford, after their owner bought a majority stake in FCM in 2014.
And while European football isn’t exactly a novelty – FCM almost turfed Manchester City out of the UEFA Cup in 2008 – Herning was always better known for its achievements in other sports. Local cyclist Bjarne Riis is a former Tour de France winner while several of Herning’s ice hockey players have starred in the NHL. BOXEN, the indoor arena that stands beside the MCH Arena, will host ice hockey’s World Championships in 2018.
No wonder, then, that the two local clubs, Herning Fremad and Ikast FS, who created FC Midtjylland in 1999, had precious little to shout about before then.
Fremad officially dated back to 1918 but there was football played in Herning before that, usually on market day. A forerunner of Fremad was founded in 1910 but its origins remain a mystery. Playing on Nørgårds Allé, then Nørregade, Fremad had their own Herning Stadion from 1968 onwards. In a strange footnote, the club encouraged Bobby Moore to play for them for nine matches in the spring of 1978, attracting record crowds and helping the transition to professional football. Bizarrely, therefore, Herning were the last club England’s greatest football hero played for in a career stretching more than 700 games.
Promoted in 1982 to the old 1.Division, Fremad remained top flight until their final season as an individual club in 1998-99, when they finished fourth, one place below Ikast. A Herning Fremad is still in lower-league operation, based at leafy Teglpark on Ringkøbingvej in the west of town, with teams at several youth levels too.
Ikast, just over 10km east from Herning, featured more prominently on the domestic scene than their neighbours. Still running a second team as a separate entity despite the merger to create FC Midtjylland in 1999, Ikast FS competed in the third-flight Second Division (West) as recently as 2009-10 until the Danish FA ruled out reserve outfits at that level. Before the merger, Ikast’s first team made the Danish Cup final three times, losing to FC Copenhagen 2-0 in 1997 and Brøndby 6-3 after extra-time in 1989. That same decade, Ikast actually won a trophy, the short-lived Danish League Cup, in 1985, a resounding 7-0 win over B1901.
Based at the Ikast Stadion on Stadion Allé close to Ikast rail station, the current club hosts FCM’s youth academy.
From Karup, the airport recommends using Frederiks Taxis (+45 86 66 10 45) Dkr270 into Herning. There is no public transport option.
If you’re flying into Copenhagen and heading to Herning overland, from the rail station in Terminal 3, a train to Herning (around Dkr400, overall journey time approx 4hr 30min) requires at least one change, usually at Skanderborg. Online booking is Danish-only.
For a local taxi, call +45 97 12 07 77.
Right by the stadium complex, the 104-room, affordable Hotel Herning is set at around Dkr1,000 for a double, depending on the time of year.
There are plenty of choices in Herning town centre, starting with the venerable if basic Hotel Corona, right on the main drag, with doubles in the Dkr1,000 range. The nearby Best Western Hotel Eyde has an equally long history but has recently been significantly modernised, with a gym, sauna and state-of-the-art equipment and classic Danish retro furniture. Further along stands the unique DGI-Huset Herning Hotel, whose übermodern design incorporates indoor and outdoor fitness areas, and the Swim Center with a plunge pool and water trampoline.
The main budget stay in town is provided by the centrally located Danhostel Herning.
Bars and faux pubs line busy downtown Østergade, with generous opening hours. The Fox & Hounds offers over a dozen draught beers and occasional live music while Murphy’s goes big on large-screen TV sports, showing all Champions League and Danish Superliga games. The Old Irish Pub is neither old nor Irish but the Herning branch of a nationwide chain set up in bar hubs across Denmark.
Also on Østergade, Gadespejlet refers to itself as a ‘bodega’, with nearly 40 years’ experience in keeping locals happily fed and watered. Baren appeals to a younger, more party-minded clientele. The Café Pitstop on Nørregade is primarily a betting bar with TV sports and drinks to match.