Recently Brøndby won the Danish league for the first time in 16 years. This made me happy, very happy, but also led to a reflection about why I support Brøndby; how did I become a Brøndby fan?
The first time I saw Brøndby play was in 1987, the year that Brøndby won their second Danish title, and were emerging as the dominant force in Danish football through the 1990s. This was in Ikast, a small town in central Jutland, which had a team that competed in the top Danish league. Now, you could consider that I was an Ikast fan; living nearby I went to many matches in Ikast, so it was the team I supported. That said, Brøndby was putting Danish football on the European stage, and that same year, 1987, Brøndby made it to the quarterfinals of the European Champions Cup only to be eliminated by the later champions of FC Porto.
In 1989 I went to the Danish Cup final with my father. Ikast-Brøndby is a legendary match that ended 3-3, and only in extra time Brøndby ended up winning 6-3 (check it out on Youtube). This was a Brøndby side with players that would become legends: Peter Schmeichel, Lars Olsen, Kim Vilfort, John Faxe Jensen, Brian Laudrup..., and although I supported Ikast in that match, I was impressed by the club and the fans.
Soon after I moved to Spain, USA, and the reference point when living abroad increasingly became Brøndby, and less and less Ikast. In fact, Ikast FS ceased to exist in 1999, when it merged with Herning Fremad to form FC Midtjylland. By this time FC Midtjylland, a team based in Herning, was simply too far from my Ikast-memories, and although I sympathize with the wolves from Herning, I simply feel no connection to the side.
My attachment to Brøndby on the other hand only grew. As I moved to the outskirts of Copenhagen for university, a rivalry was emerging between Brøndby and the newly minted FC Copenhagen. For me Brøndby, the team that had already given me some memories became my natural choice among the many teams in the Danish Superliga.
I went to Brøndby matches once in a while (far from enough) and in 1999, when Brøndby qualified for the Champions League, I went to all matches against Bayern Munich, Manchester United and FC Barcelona. The first match, against Bayern Munich, remains a treasured memory, when Allan Ravn's memorable late kick gave them a victory against a German side that would make it to the CL final that same season (against Manchester United).
Although I increasingly spent time outside Denmark, I was in the stadium in 2002 against FCK, another memorable match, when a late equalizer by Mads Jørgensen effectively gave Brøndby the title.
By this time there was no doubt that I supported Brøndby, and as I have moved from country to country over the last years, Brøndby has remained my point of entry to follow the Danish League. I have been hugely disappointed over the last 10 years, as the club almost went bankrupt (and I purchased stocks in the club) and as they have been unable to wrestle the two powerhouses of Danish football: FC Copenhagen and FC Midtjylland.
But a new title has come, hopefully more years of Brøndby giving us new memories, wherever we are in the world!