Bodø-Glimt snares Eliteserien title

Utter collapse for Viking

soccer

Photo: Mats Torbergsen / NTB
Sure, we’ll celebrate twice! Amahl Pellegrino raises the championship trophy after Bodø/Glimt’s last game of the season, Dec. 3. They had won the title with two games left. Pellegrino set the Eliteserien record for points in a season with 38 (24 goals, 14 assists), breaking the record of 36 set by former B/G player Filip Zinckernagel, and was named Player of the Year.

Michael Kleiner
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

It took Bodø/Glimt 104 years to win their first soccer championship when it had one of the best seasons of any team ever in 2020. Now, they’ve won three in the last four years. They repeated in 2021, and beat last place Aalesund 1-0 on Nov. 12 to capture this season’s title with two games remaining. 

Last year, they earned silver, though they were 18 points behind champion Molde. They entered the game against Aalesund on their home pitch, Aspmyra Stadium, with a six-point lead over second-place Brann. 

An own goal credited to Nikolai Hopland in the 37th minute was all B/G needed, thrilling the near-capacity crowd of 7,851 fans, many of whom joined the post-game celebration on the pitch. B/G started 18-year-old Magnus Brøndbo in goal.

Surrounded by jubilant fans, Patrick Berg told TV2, “It is fantastic that we can finally win it at home and celebrate the gold with the supporters. This shows that anything is possible.”

Dane Albert Grønbæk was given a Danish flag for an interview. “It is a great achievement by the club,” he said. “Big kudos to the whole stadium and everyone who makes the trip here. I have to say a big thank you to all my teammates. I can’t thank them enough.”

They need to send thank-you notes to Viking for its utter collapse. From June 11 to Aug. 20, Viking won 10 straight games to move into first place. They drew 1-1 with Vålerenga and defeated Haugesund 2-0 and Sandefjord 4-3 to improve their unbeaten streak to 12-1-0 on Sept. 24. Their overall record was 16-3-3, 51 points and eight games remaining. On Oct. 1, Molde blanked Viking 4-0 to start a 0-1-4 Viking skein, losing to 3rd-place Tromsø, 8th-place Strømsgodset and 11th-place HamKam. They broke it beating Sarpsborg 08 2-1 on Nov. 12, but the day ended with Bodø/Glimt celebrating after winning five straight games. On Nov. 26, Viking beat Aalesund, 4-0, but in the finale on Dec. 3, lost to Rosenborg 5-1 at home and finished fourth. On Nov. 26, Brann downed Bodø/Glimt 4-2, before an overflow crowd of 16,832 fans at Brann Stadium; Tromsø edged Haugesund 2-1 and Molde downed Sarpsborg 3-1. On the last day, B/G blanked Sarpsborg 2-0; Strømsgodset beat Brann 3-0, but Tromsø drew with Vålerenga 1-1 so Brann got the silver, Tromsø the bronze. Molde tied HamKam 1-1 to finish fifth. Aalesund won five games but beat Rosenborg, Tromsø, and Molde.

Final table

(Wins (3pts)-Draws (1 pt)-Losses (0 pts) – Pts.: 1. Bodø/Glimt (22-4-4-70); 2. Brann (19-4-7-61); 3. Tromsø (19-4-7-61); 4. Viking (18-4-8-58); 5. Molde (15-6-9-51); 6. Lillestrøm (13-4-13-43); 7. Sarpsborg 08 (12-5-13-41); 8. Strømsgodset (13-3-14-42); 9. Rosenborg (11-6-13-39); 10. Odd (10-8-12-38); 11. HamKam (10-4-16-34); 12. Haugesund (9-6-15-33); 13. Sandefjord (8-7-15-31) 14. Vålerenga (7-8-15-29); 15. Stabæk (7-8-15-29); 16. Aalesund (5-3-22-21)

Leading Scorers:

Amahl Pellegrino, Bodø/Glimt, 24-14-38 pts, Eliteserien season record, breaking former B/G player Philip Zinckernagel’s previous mark of 36 pts. Pelllegrino was named Player of the Year. Others top scorers:

Bård Finne, Brann, 16-11-27 

Zlatko Tripic, Viking 13-10-23

Faris Moumbagna B/G 15-5-20

Vegard Erlien, Tromsø, 15-2-17

Thomas Olsen, Lillestrøm 14-2-16

What’s happened to Rosenborg?

As Bodø/Glimt’s star in the north rises and they’ve become the bar to attain, 11 hours to the south, Rosenborg, the once gold standard of the Tippeligaen/Eliteserien has lost its shine with an unusual five-year span.

Rosenborg’s 26 championships are by far the most of any club that’s been part of the senior league. Viking is next with eight. The Trondheim side last won in 2018, which finished a streak of four straight titles. They won 13 straight from 1992 to 2004.

During the stretch where they won four straight titles from 2015 to 2018, Rosenberg compiled a record of 79 wins-26 draws-15 losses for 263 pts (points percentage 73%) an average goal differential of +36.75 on an average of 61.5 goals scored:24 against, and won the Eliteserien by an average of 7.25 points.

There was no hint of what was to come. The nadir was this season. They were ninth (11-6-13-39 pts), their worst finish since they were 8th in a 12-team league in 1986, the first losing season since 2005. There’s only been 12 losing seasons in 90 years of Rosenborg soccer and the worst finish was 12th in 1977 (1-5-16-7 pts). 

One issue has been a revolving door of coaches, six in five years. This season started with Kjetil Rekdal, who was hired in January 2022. Following a 1-0 win over Viking in the opener were three draws and three losses. Two shutout wins followed but after tying Stabæk June 11, Rekdal was replaced with Svein Maalen, who was given the interim tag so there’s a seventh coach on the way. Maalen debuted with three straight losses, including to last place Aalesund, then a four-game win streak including a win over Tromsø. Then, Rosenborg went 4-2-6. 

Over the last five seasons, they are 69-40-41 (point percentage 55.9%) and though there were two third-place bronze finishes, they were nowhere near the title, averaging 16.4 points behind first. Attendance at 21,421-seat Lerkendal Stadium has taken a hit. They averaged 14,084 fans this season, though that was helped by 21,264 on May 16 against Haugesund–but 10,704 for the next game–and 21,266 on Sept. 17 against Bodø/Glimt. They were 7-3-5 at home, which ended with a 3-1 loss to Strømsgodset on Nov. 26, which drew 11,404 spectators. They averaged 17,410 from 2015 to 2018.

Management doesn’t look good with its coaching evaluations and then not letting the coaches get settled, so they have to get this next choice right. One bright spot: Sverre Nypan, 16, was named Young Player of the Year.

This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of NorCham Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.