Grinding out a victory in DunkerqueArticle
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BLOG: Reflection on a very unusual Match of the Week, a game in which neither of the depleted sides wanted to win and was decided purely by experience

Grinding out a victory in Dunkerque

It wasn't pretty. In fact it wasn't aesthetic at all. You would be as likely to find a Van Gogh in a bin as you were to find moments of high quality in this game. And that's an understatement. But in fairness, it is difficult to paint a picture without a brush. Too many injuries to first team players on both sides was never going to add to the quality.

I would be interested to know if this is one of the lowest scoring victories since handball changed the goal 'throw-off' rule. There were precious few moments during the game, where my trademark "I can't believe it" or "it's a goal" were used. The truth of the matter is there were only 38 goals in the game and it would be disingenuous to say that the defences were on top. 

The pilgrimage for me to Dunkirk started so well. The clubs hospitality knew no bounds. I was a lone visitor to a museum all about the evacuation of Dunkirk. The club treated me so well. I completely fell in love with the place.

USDK is a proud club with a dream: to play in the Champions League. They have achieved that dream, but Sunday’s game was a bit of a nightmare for them. Shorn of their cultured centre Lamon, they never quite found the flow of the game against a vastly, not superior, but experienced team.

Shining light in the dark

Kronberg had no shortage of injuries himself. Andersson and Karlsson had not travelled and Boesen found himself injured prior to the game. This meant Kolding had no back court except for Spellerberg and the relatively unknown Lasse Andersson.

He was a shining light in a dour encounter. He started slowly, but his power and speed soon shone through. Playing with a double line throughout the game, Andersson managed to find space where there was none and goal after goal gave him the confidence and hunger to look for more.

By contrast, the Dunkerque back court worked about as effectively as a straight corkscrew. Always with one eye on the approaching hulks of Boldsen and Jorgensen (a frightening proposition at the best of times ) they managed then to find Hvidt waiting like a spider in a web for their tame shots.

Only at the beginning of the second half, did the diminutive Soudry succeed where Lie Hansen and Rambo (giants by comparison) had failed. He scored five and threatened to evoke the "Spirit of Dunkirk" single handedly. He was brilliant leaving Hvidt and the Kolding defence bemused with his variation of shot and fleetness of foot.


It was a game strangely enough, that no one seemed to want to win. Kolding did what they could with what they had. Even Jorgensen played as a centre. He scored, showed soft hands and got at least one penalty.

However, they seemed to want to put the opposition to sleep, with their delaying tactics. They did eventually just tire out the exuberance of youthful Dunkerque and then reached into the archives of basic handball to grind out an unlikely victory.

It was a fight and a tight fight at that. The positive for Dunkirk is that as they watched their ship sink, they wouldn't let it go down without a fight. In a week that saw "The Zappers" and Metalurg capitulate when the game was gone, these brave boys from Flanders brought the game back from the brink to a one goal deficit with one minute remaining.

Kolding, at that moment, did what they had done the whole game. They waited, waited, waited and then with the time almost up, they scored. Two goal win, game over.

At the post match interview before the cameras rolled, Laen asked me “What on earth was that”.

I had no answer.

I was speechless for the first time in my life.

TEXT: Tom O'Brannagain, ehfTV commentator