Bodø/Glimt, the super soccer team from the North

Bloody hell, we’ll get it done!

Bodø/Glimt

Photo: Mats Torbergsen / NTB
YELLOW HORDE: At each Bodø/Glimt game, a mass of yellow bands together: “Bloody hell, we’ll get it done—We’re the super team from the North!”

Michael Kleiner
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

Such is the nature of success. As of May 5, Bodø/Glimt (glimt.no) led Eliteserien with a 5-1-0 (wins-ties-losses) record for 16 points and outscored opponents 13-2, up two points on Brann, three on Molde. Yet, they were struggling, particularly at home, Aspmyra Stadium.

On May 5, they needed a 74th-minute goal by Håkon Evjen and clutch save by goalie Nakita Haikin in stoppage time for a 1-0 win over Strømsgodset before 5,961 fans at the 8,270-seat Aspmyra.

Earlier in the week, the Yellows had lost to the other yellows, Lillestrøm, 4-2, in a home Norwegian Cup match. The NC loss eliminated Bodø/Glimt from title contention.

There is still a long season for this club that has turned history, geography and Eliteserien upside down over the last several years. Soccer at Bodø/Glimt began in 1916 but took until 2020 to win an Eliteserien championship. They were the first championship club from northern Norway. They didn’t just win it, they dominated so thoroughly that it caught the attention of The New York Times: 26 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss, 81 points (19 better than Molde), 103 goals scored, 32 conceded. Danes Philip Zinckernagel and Kasper Junker led the potent offense.

This followed a silver finish in 2019 (15-9-6, 54 pts, 64-34 goal scored-conceded)

Bodø/Glimt was not satisfied with being a one-and-done champion. They repeated the next year (18-9-3-63 pts, 59-25). In 2022, Molde won its last 17 games and won gold, but the Yellows took silver (18-6-6-60 pts, 86-41) and were back on top last year (22-4-4-70 pts, 78-38). Since 2019, B/G has won 104 games (avg 17.3), tied 32 (5.3),  lost 20 (3.3), 344 pts (57.3), goal differential of 385 (36.9).

The era of success is remarkable on many levels. One reason has to be the hiring of coach Kjetil Knutsen, 55, in 2017. The players have bought into his system and culture. The mission statement has a clear vision:

We must create pride
Spring’s way
We see opportunities, we develop,
We focus on performance.
We do it as a team.
We are brave and challenging.
We do not want to copy,
We do it our way

There is some continuity. It’s a very Scandinavian team: 23 Norwegians, four Danes, one Russian, one Czech Republic, one Slovenia. Five are on the Norway national team: MF Patrick Berg, 26, joined in 2014 and has played for Lens (France); D Omar Elabdellaoui, 32, who joined B/G in 2023, after playing in Greece, Turkey, England, and Germany;  D Brice Wembangomo, 27, who started wearing yellow in 2022; D Brede Moe, 32, who signed in 2017 after playing for Rosenborg, and F Jens Petter Hauge, 24, who came to Bodø in 2017, and has also played in Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

MF Fredrik André Bjørkan, 25, who was injured against  Strømsgodset, has been part of B/G since 2016; MF Ulrik Saltnes, 31, since 2011 at 19. Newcomer MF Evjen, 24, previously played in Denmark and Netherlands; keeper Haikim, 28, is Russian, and joined B/G in 2022-23; Dane F Kasper Høgh, 23, played in Denmark’s Super League and Stabæk in Eliteserien.

And then there are the great family legacies. Patrick Berg’s grandfather is Harald Berg, and his uncle is Runar Berg. Both Harald and Runar previously played for B/G. Patrick’s father, Ørjan Berg, previously played for Rosenborg.

In soccer, success is also measured by where players transfer. Amahl Pellegrino, who broke Zinckernagel’s scoring record last year, is with San Jose in MLS.

Recent B/G success was preceded by some rough times. In 2018, they finished 11th (6-14-10-32, 32-35) and in 2017, they were relegated in the 1st Division. Since 1998, B/G has spent seven seasons in 1st Division. In the 14 seasons in Tippeligaen/Eliteserien between 1998-2018, B/G’s average finish was  10th; the record was 122 (8.7)-97 (6.9)-165 (11.8), 463 pts (33.1), 564-651 (-87 GD, avg -6.2).

With three championships in four years, they recaptured the hearts of the Bodø fans, if the devotion ever waned. Participation in the supporters’ club has increased. Like most stadiums an area is dedicated for the supporter’s club, who stand and sing during matches. Children younger than 16 are admitted free with special rows designated for them and their families, or inexpensive options for children should parents want to ensure seating availability. There are special rates for those aged 17-30.

“Everyone is welcome to stand and sing Glimt,” says Kristoffer Grorud of the supporters group on the B/G website. “We see that more people are coming back, so the impression is that they have had good experiences with us there. They sing, they wave flags and contribute as the 12th man with the rest of us, and with the same feelings. Supporter culture is not something that is built overnight, and the earlier you get a relationship with it, the better. We wish everyone a pleasant experience on the field, and all contributions to cheer on the super team are most welcome!”

More children are joining the revelry.

Throughout the team’s history, the fans have been considered either enthusiastic or rude for taunting opponents.

At one time, Bodø/Glimt was the team in northern Norway, drawing fans from all over above the Arctic Circle.  They won the northern Norway championship nine times. The southern teams in the top league felt the northern clubs were inferior and wouldn’t allow them to play in the top loop. In 1972, they created qualifying tournaments, with the northern teams playing each other and the southern teams playing each other. The southern teams put in an extra roadblock making the northern champion play an extra game against the South’s second-place team. This was eliminated in 1979.

The 1970s were a successful era increasing membership in the supporters’ club.  The 1975 season was particularly special. Harald (Dutte) Berg  was interviewed for Svein Lundestad’s book on the centennial of B/G in 2016, Glimt i 100: Stolthet, glede og passion (Glimt at 100: Pride, Joy and Passion), and still recalled the Yellow Horde during the 1975 season.

“What I actually remember really well is the Yellow Horde!” he said. “A wonderful group! It was completely unique. They came so close to us that there was almost no room for us in the midfield. They must not be forgotten. Here we are talking about the 12th man on the pitch, and that is legal as long as the referees don’t see it.”

Glimt won the Norwegian Cup at Ullevål Stadium in Oslo on Oct. 26, 1975, the first team from northern Norway to accomplish the feat. Fans from the North made the train trek–520 miles, almost 19 hours, two trains. They made their presence known in sentrum and the stadium. Several hundred fans waited outside the locker room after the game. Berg was carried around on a golden chair by choir leaders Arnulf Bendixen and Halvdan Sivertsen while the horde sang, “Oh, I know a country far up there toward the north.”

Then, there’s the toothbrush, one of the weirder symbols in sports. The story goes, according to Lundestad, that before games the uniformed members of the fan club would get together for a long time. They brought toothbrushes with them.

Bendixen used the toothbrush as a baton, leading the singing. Seeing an opportunity, a representative with Jordan Toothbrushes decided the supporters club should have a huge toothbrush. Before home games, a yellow toothbrush is given to the opposing’s team’s captain, a tradition going back 49 years.

There were some good seasons in the 1990s before 1998, with silver in Eliteserien in 1993 and their second Norwegian Cup. On Sept. 19, 1994, B/G beat powerful Italian side Sampdoria 3-2 at Ullevål, one of the greatest accomplishments in Norwegian soccer history. In 2003, B/G was second with a 14-5-7-47 points record, 14 points behind Rosenborg, while also nlosing to Rosenborg in the Cup final.

In 2021, B/G qualified for its first group stage in the Europa Conference League. In one of the biggest wins in their history, B/G beat Italian power Roma–led by legendary coach José Mourihno–6-1 at Aspmyra. A few weeks later, B/G tied Roma 2-2, but finished second in the group, undefeated, but a point behind Roma. B/G then beat Scottish power Celtic, Dutch team AZ Alkmaar to reach the quarterfinals where Roma was the opponent. B/G won 2-1 in overtime at Aspmyra, then lost in Rome. 4-0, and were eliminated.

When they’ve played in Europe, as many as 2,000 fans have attended.

The slogan is “Førr evig” (Lead forever). A local brewery, Bådin, has developed a pils­ner, Lead Forever, in honor of the club.

Years from now, whether in Bodø or elsewhere, you get the feeling there will be a yellow horde bellowing out:

“Yes, we love Bodø/Glimt
And love what we watch
Bodø/Glimt, lead forever, 
more, more, more
We have dried a tear  
and occasionally fainted
Oh Bodø/Glimt”

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

See also “Bodø-Glimt snares Eliteserien title,” The Norwegian American, Jan. 2024.

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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.