Blog

13/01/2014

The Crown is in town

EHF EURO VIDEO BLOG: The EHF's presenter, Tom O'Brannagain, speaks about his meeting with Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and his first day at Jyske Bank Boxen

Do you know that feeling you get when it's Christmas time; you don't know what day it is and you get that kind of sensory overload of feel good movies, well being at the EURO is a bit like that.

I think today is Monday, but I couldn't tell you for sure and I have talked handball for the past six days. But before you think that I'm running out of steam or losing the passion, don't worry, I'm off to Aalborg, instead of raining it's now snowing and we had a great day yesterday.

We met with the Noddesbo family. Why? I hear you ask. Well, Jesper of Barcelona and Denmark fame grew up in this small town of Herning.

His first handball was in the hall where the Denmark team is currently training. So he arranged for us to meet his mam and dad and brother and sister. They are a great bunch and the pride they have in their son or brother, depending on who you're talking to, is as plain as the constant grey skies above us.

The story won't appear for a few days on the Opens external link in new windowehf-euro Youtube Channel, but when it does, have the tissues ready.

Yesterday we went to the Boxen for the official opening of the EHF EURO 2014.

The Boxen was roxin.. 14,000 Danes with a smattering of Austrians, replete with Lederhosen and wooly hats (don't ask) and some Macedonians trying to bring sunshine into our lives with their fantastic flags.

While the Czechs played Austria we hid in the bowels of the arena, as we awaited a very special guest. It was all on the QT. We were not allowed to mention it to anyone else.

So I, and my two Italian co-workers hunched our shoulders, stared at the ground and pretended we had nothing better to do as we were whisked off to meet the Crown Prince Frederik.

"How do you address a Crown Prince", I asked, as I surely didn't want a repeat of the Blackadder, "Your Highness, Your Highness" sketch. "Your Royal Highness" and suddenly he is there.

Years of experience means I can just about interview anyone without any worry. With Irish bravado I ignored the gentle tugging on my sleeve, which became a drag as I got another question in...

Having eventually left the Crown Prince alone, my knees started to knock as Danish stares of pure envy rained in upon us.

The roller coaster didn't end there as we were suddenly in the presence of the Prime Minister of Denmark.. Our jaws dropped as the stunning Helle Thorning-Schmidt stepped into view.

Yes, the prime minister of Denmark is a woman and her smile would light up a room. Knees still knocking from the chat with the Crown Prince, I was totally floored now. She is eloquent, intelligent and a fan of all things Denmark.

It suddenly showed me how big this tournament is. This country is alive with the beating of their handball hearts.

Every level of society is involved in what might be described as the "Circus Maximus" of its time. The arenas are full, the gladiators are ready to do battle, royalty honours us with its presence, and it's getting the thumbs up. 

written by Tom O'Brannagain, EHF Presenter