Egg-ceptional hard-boiled Skjern hatch a plan to scramble Veszprem this EasterArticle
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BLOG: ehfTV commentator Tom Ó Brannagáin warns Skjern might need to invoke the spirit of the legendary knight Holger Danske ahead of the MOTW in Veszprem in order to reach the quarter-finals.

Egg-ceptional hard-boiled Skjern hatch a plan to scramble Veszprem this Easter

To the uninitiated the result of Skjern at home to Veszprem last week would have garnered nothing more than a cursory glance and a shrug of the shoulder. I mean, these are not the cultural metropolises of Paris or Rome. Most people would be hard pressed to tell you what country they are in and certainly where they are situated therein. Neither place is likely to be on your bucket list to visit. In fact, when I google Skjern, it said it's a great place for hiking, walking and cycling. (Tell that to a king of Denmark, who, in the middle ages, died having fallen from his horse into its frozen waters.) That's usually a euphemism for; "There's nothing to do there", but scratch a little deeper and it's amazing what you will find.

Both are small towns that have produced professional teams in a world wide sport. When you think the population of Skjern is less than 10,000, this is just a miracle. Skjern is a railway town and one might say that they are on the right track. They also house the air museum and there's no doubt that they are flying high right now.

You'll forgive me if I talk about Skjern more so than Veszprem in this piece. I mean I have blogged the good and bad of Veszprem over the years. We know them. We are familiar with their players. Can we say the same about Skjern Handbold. The cursory glance that the uninitiated gave the result last week caused an opposite seismic reaction within the handball world. The heavyweight team from Hungary was supposed to roll into town and just bat aside an unfancied qualifier from Group C.

For most of us, myself included, Groups C and D Groups C and D may not seem the warrant the same attention that those of Groups A and B garner. I went so far last season to declare that no team from those groups could compete with the teams from A and B.

I was wrong and I have the Salming underwear at home to prove it. I rashly predicted they would be massacred in the first knockout round and Montpellier went ahead and defeated the champions Kielce. I still haven't appeared on a hangout in my underwear to this day.

You would think a man of some experience in this sporting world would have learned his lesson, but no, and once again the teams from the "lower" groups have shone when all others, save maybe themselves, gave them no chance. Congratulations also to MHB on their victory against Barcelona.

There is a name that is synonymous with Skjern although he is not a native son. Danes will know him although his work has been translated into so many different languages. He was a mathematician and writer, architect and artist. His name was Piet Hein and I should have read one of his "Gruks" before predicting the outcome of this game

"Small people often overrate
The charm of being tall;
Which is that you appreciate
the charm of being small"

If Skjern needed any more inspiration before a game, then this could have been written for them. They fought tooth and nail for every ball and left Veszprem looking wooden, much like the small knick-knacks produced by Skjern Skjode.

Hein is also famous for his mathematical egg shapes and elliptical designs. In fact on a roundabout in this picturesque town, there is a famous sculpture of a giant egg. If you'll excuse the pun, Veszprem laid an egg in the Skjern Bank arena last weekend. Nothing worked because a fiercely driven team didn't allow anything to work. It was, to explain the phrase, a very bad performance. The final score line actually flatters them. It's interesting that Sondergaard (himself an Olympic and twice EURO gold-medallist) bemoaned the fact that they won't take a nine-goal lead with them to Hungary. Even he knows the fine margins that are the difference between a one-off top class, "egg-straordinary" performance and the chance to make history. Skjern have to make sure that they are not the team to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Legendary left wing Egg-ert plies his trade there too. Coincidence? I think not. Don't get me started on this being Easter weekend.

Because they have to go to the Veszprem arena and if you think shock waves were felt through the handball firmament last weekend, then this arena will shake with the fervour that 6,000 fans and a wounded team will bring to the table. I have been there when they blew it against Ademar Leon all those years ago. I was there when tears were shed for their first ever appearance at the FINAL4. I have felt the heights of their hope and the depths of their despair. And when this stadium rocks, the very foundations shudder. This club which has experienced the highs and the very low lows is most dangerous when prodded.

Skjern will need to invoke the spirit of another statue that resides in their small hamlet. It is said that the spirit of "Holger Danske" (a legendary knight) will rise up and save the nation in its greatest peril. I'm sure the legend doesn't pertain to handball, but certainly Danish club handball is in dire need of a big result in Europe's top competition, having been in the doldrums since the halcyon days of Copenhagen.

In terms of MOTW and comebacks it's not the greatest deficit ever. Who could ever forget Berlin's miraculous comeback against the aforementioned Ademar. That was eleven, this is seven. Vranjes will explain that its a goal extra every ten minutes and then two more for the cherry on top.

Skjern may be in seventh heaven, they are on the brink, but it ain't a done deal. I leave then with another "Gruk" from Piet Hein:

"He that lets the small things bind him
Leaves the great undone behind him"

The last and most significant sculpture in Skjern is on another roundabout, again from the art of Hein. It appears as if two "Pac-Mans" are about to embrace passionately. It's called "The Kiss". You don't have to be a mathematician like Hein to know that if Veszprem don't win by eight, then they'll be kissing this competition goodbye.

TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin, ehftv commentator