Posted by: Christian Wulff | May 15, 2012

A Death in the Family

The insignificance of the matches in the eighth round of Tippeligaen, or any other football game played this weekend, was laid bare with the tragic news on Monday morning that Stabæk player Tor-Marius Gromstad had been found dead at a construction site in Oslo. Gromstad had been reported missing on Saturday night after leaving his brother’s apartment early that same morning. The 22-year old defender was from the idyllic southern town of Arendal, and played for his hometown club in the lower leagues before he went to Stabæk in 2007. Playing at centre-half, Gromstad had started 16 games last season, before coming a permanent part of the starting line-up this year. His last game was away to Rosenborg on the 4th May, playing the full 90 minutes. Stabæk’s 16th May game against Vålerenga has been cancelled, as the Norwegian football community mourn one of its own while sharing memories of their friend and teammate.

Ivar Berg, Stabæk’s assistant coach, speaking during a memorial service on Tuesday: ‘We were incredibly fond of you, and it is incredibly sad that you are gone. But we’ll try to live up to what you always did: Give 100%’

Ingebrigt Steen Jensen, former Stabæk chairman: ’He was a fantastic person. He was interested, engaged, and a bright boy. He was studying outside football and he was always the first person to help new players, to go on school visits, and to agree a new contract with reduced wages (during Staæk’s financial problems last year). An incredibly nice boy in every sense. He was a very special person’

Morten Skjønsberg, former Stabæk player:  ‘It’s not often you look up to someone younger than you, but that is what I did with Tor-Marius. He never said a bad word about anyone. It’s completely incomprehensible that Tor-Marius is gone. We are only left with the memories, and I have only good, good memories’.

All quotes from


(Almost) The moral high ground

In terms of the games played this weekend, the stand-out fixture was always likely to be Lillestrøm – Brann and the two teams did not disappoint. Both have been having a terrible start to the season, lying second and third from the bottom when the game kicked off, one win between them after seven rounds. Indeed, Lillestrøm had gone 18 games without a league win before the game, going back to early August last year.

Each team had already missed a great chance when Kim Ojo’s header found Chukwuma Akabueze, better known as Bentley, completely unmarked at the far post, the Nigerian easily giving Brann the lead after only nine minutes. He doubled the lead 20 minutes later after some more horrendous defending from Lillestrøm, but that was still nothing compared to what was about to come.

Four minutes before half-time Bjørn Bergman Sigurdarson, the Iceland forward who, despite being one of the most talented offensive players in Norway, had gone 11 league games without a goal before last weekend’s game against Haugesund, converted a penalty after Lars Grorud had brought down Johan Andersson. Two minutes later Sigurdarson equalised for Lillestrøm, Fredrik Stoor’s cross finding him even more unmarked at the far post than Bentley had been for Brann’s first goal. But both the teams and the two players were not level on goals for long, with Bentley latter putting Brann back in the lead a minute later, completing his first half hat-trick with another close-range header after Armin Askar’s delightful cross.

Three goals in four minutes before half-time were soon eclipsed by events just after the re-start. When Frode Kippe went down injured, Lillestrøm played the ball over the sideline, 10 yards into Brann’s  half. Brann’s Erik Mjelde received the throw in and hoofed the ball back towards Stefán Magnússon in the Lillestrøm goal. The Icelandic goalkeeper came out to collect the ball, but it took a fast bounce on the wet pitch and sailed over him and into the goal.

Mjelde immediately put his hands up, indicating that he had not intentionally aimed for goal.  Frantic discussions among both sets of players broke out, with Brann’s goalkeeper Piotr Leciejewski seemingly disagreeing with some of his own team-mates. From the kick-off, the Brann players let Sigurdarson run towards their own goal unopposed, happy to give Lillestrøm a goal back. Except for Leciejewski that is, who tried his best to stop Sigurdarson when he was through on goal, the Icelander in the end going past the Polish goalkeeper and making it 3-4.

It was a surreal two minutes at Åråsen, but also a great gesture from (almost) the whole Brann team. In fact, the club had only three years earlier been involved in another notorious fair play (or lack of) situation. In the Norwegian cup quarter final against Odd Grenland, goalkeeper Håkon Opdal had injured himself while trying to kick the ball upfield. Odd striker Péter Kovács had snapped up the ball and walked it into the net before being surrounded by a some very angry Brann players. Kovács’ striker instincts had clearly played a role in that split-second decision, just as Leciejewski reluctance illustrated how much a goalkeeper hates to let in any goal.

Even after Sigurdarson had completed the most bizarre hat-trick he’ll ever make, Lillestrøm never really threatened to equalise with Brann much closer to a fifth and sixth goal. An incredible match ended with three very important points for Brann and a 19th consecutive league game without a win for Lillestrøm, but it will always be remembered for those two very strange minutes after half-time.


Results round 8: Stabæk – Molde 0-5, Tromsø – Vålerenga 3-1, Sandnes Ulf – Rosenborg 1-1, Fredrikstad  – Haugesund 0-0, Hønefoss – Odd Grenland 1-4, Sogndal – Viking 1-2, Ålesund – Strømsgodset 3-1, Lillestrøm – Brann 3-4.

You can get all the stats and watch free (and legal) highlights of every game at the website. Click on the result of each game and, eh, press play (there will be a short commercial first). This page will also include all the match facts, line-ups and formations.

To see Kovac’s goal, go to, click on ‘Mål’ above the long list of Kovacs’ games, then find the matche from 08.08.09, then press play on the first of two clips from that game.




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