A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today
For two decades, AaB were the only club to provide real resistance against the dominance of Brøndby and Copenhagen. Four championship titles in 20 years – 1995, 1999, 2008 and 2014 – is no mean feat for a club with a 10,000-seater ground and a fraction of the media and sponsorship interest of the supposed Big Two.
However, the 2014 double was the fairy tale to end them all. As Celtic fans may recall, the north Jutland side had a fine Champions League campaign in 2008, making it to the third spot and Europa League after a terrible start.
The windfall from this should have made them one of Denmark’s richest clubs – instead they blew it all on terrible ideas like subsidising the ice hockey and handball branches, and ill-judged real estate investments.
AaB were flirting with bankruptcy, and living off the shrewd dealings of Lynge Jakobsen, a former player and a nationally popular director of football. The jovial Jakobsen sold off as many players as he deemed requisite to avoid relegation, giving the board leeway to balance the books in slightly less desperate fashion, while upgrading scouting and academy work.
Jakobsen’s work would have been undone but for an outrageous slice of good fortune in 2011, when a last-round, last-gasp Esbjerg equaliser against Randers took both teams down and got AaB off the hook. Since then they’ve kept building, managed by Euro 1992 champion Kent Nielsen, who has kept faith in his youngsters and strewn in a couple of experienced Aalborg boys.
He not only created a title-winning side on a shoestring budget – ten of his regulars in the spring of 2014 were actually from Denmark, most of them locals. No wonder the north of Jutland is bloody proud of the club. Even if the sensible, down-to-earth AaB fans reverted to good-natured, resigned moaning as and when things went wrong once more.
Before a near capacity crowd at the Nordjyske Arena for the Champions League play-off the following August, APOEL Nicosia needed only one shot on target to take an away goal back to Cyprus, where they had the second leg, and the tie, sewn up by half-time.
AaB scraped through the group stage of the Europa League but were then dismissed equally clinically by Club Bruges. Outshone in both league and cup at home, AaB bade farewell to Kent Nielsen and welcomed the return of ex-Aalborg player and coach Lars Søndergaard in 2015.
The field of dreams – and the stands around it
The Nordjyske Arena (Harald Jensens Vej 9) is an intimate little ground in the western part of Aalborg. Easily reached by foot from the town centre, it was formerly the Aalborg Stadion, originally opened in 1920 and burned down in 1960.
It packs up to 14,000 inside for domestic matches, with terraces at both ends, but seats are put in for European matches, and capacity reduced to 10,500.
Home fans gather in the West Stand behind the goal, while away fans are at the other end, jammed in the tight north-east corner (entrance 7).
Sponsors and VIPs are placed above the dugouts in the South Stand, which makes the two-tiered North Stand from 2002 the neutrals’ choice. That’s the one you’ll probably see first as you approach, with the futuristic chrome exterior (and the decidedly less futuristic merchandise container right in front of it).
Going to the stadium – tips and timings
If you’re not up for a walk straight west from downtown Aalborg, get a bus. Catch a 12 or 13 across the street from the station – either also runs from Nytorv or bar hub Jomfru Ane Gade in the city centre. Alight at Schleppegrellsgade.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
Get your tickets online at aabsport.dk/billetter – it’s Danish only, but fairly self-explanatory once you’ve hit the Køb billetter nu (‘Buy tickets now’) –button. ’Voksen siddeplads’ means ’Adult, seat’, and ’Voksen ståplads’ is ‘Adult, standing room’.
Alternatively, buy tickets at the stadium ticket offices. You’ll find these at the north-west and south-east corners.
Prices are 135Dkr for seats and 105Dkr for a spot on the terraces at league matches. European prices vary – expect steep price hikes for bigger teams. You can buy tickets in the away sector for domestic matches, but not UEFA ones.
what to buy
Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts
AaB’s club shop in town was a victim of the club’s recent economic meltdown. Merchandise sale has moved online at shop.aabsport.dk. However, before and after home matches you can still get a small selection of AaB gear over the counter – at the tiny cabin, outside the north stand at the Nordjyske Arena.
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
Bars are scarce outside Nordjyske Arena, especially since the infamous Asian Bodega near the ground was sold and turned into a café, the less-than-inspiring Café Buddha (Kastetvej 52), a few years ago.
Nearby is the Kastet burger bar, which also sells small Carlsbergs.