With Olympique Lyonnais qualifying for another UEFA Women’s Champion League final, Ellie Carpenter could join a very exclusive club early Monday morning. We caught up with a member of that club - former Westfield Matildas captain Alison Forman.
Fortuna Hjørring is a club in Denmark’s north with a strong connection to Australia.
Former Westfield Matildas Julie Murray and Carol Vinson started the connection when they signed for Fortuna in 1991 and soon several Australia players would pass through the club including current Westfield Matildas Emily van Egmond, Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Yallop.
Then there were Alison Forman and Sharon Black. The first two Australians to play in a UEFA Women’s Champions League final in 2003.
“It was very exciting to make it to the final of the UEFA Women´s Cup, now called the UEFA Women´s Champions League.” Forman said.
“It was the first and still is, the only Danish football team – female or male - to play in a European Final, something we are very proud of as an all-female football club.”
It was special to have a fellow Aussie on the team at that time of course, the first Australians to play in a UEFA Women´s Champions League is something very special and something we treasure dearly.”
Fortuna met Umeå in the final, a Swedish team that had taken part in the very first UEFA Women’s European Cup final the year before; losing to Frankfurt.
Over two legs the Danish side lost 4-1 in Sweden and then suffered at 3-0 defeat at home to ultimately finish runners up.
Just as it is now, the UEFA Women’s Champions League was the pinnacle of club football.
“The competition was good and hard, obviously the qualifying tournament was a little easier back then but the quarters, semi and final were all good games.” Forman remembered.
On the way to the final, Forman and Fortuna played against teams from Iceland, Moldova, and Belarus in the group stage.
Forman was instrumental to the team, with Black her attacking partner in crime. In the quarter finals against Norwegian club Trondheims Ørn the two combined for the winner, with Black the provider and Forman the scorer.
The winning goal against Trondheims-Ørn in the second leg was off a corner by Sharon Black and right footer in the corner in the 70th minute. That was a nice goal to score in the cold.”
Arsenal awaited the team in the semifinal. Both Black and Forman got on the scoresheet in the first leg. “My goal against Arsenal Ladies at home was a header, not a bad one either…” Black scored again in the second leg to cap off a convincing 8-2 win on aggregate.
Of all the Australians, Forman’s connection to Fortuna Hjørring runs deepest. She played for the club from 1992 to 2005, taking a brief break at the turn of the millennium to play and train at the AIS in preparation for Sydney 2000.
It was an Aussie connection that saw her end up in Hjørring in the first place.
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“I made my debut for the Matildas in 1989 and it was there that I met Julie Murray and Carol Vinson. Both Julie and Carol went to Fortuna Hjørring in 1991 to play one season.”
“There was an offer in 1992 and I accepted the offer together with Julie and went to Fortuna Hjørring in 1992. We were to only play one season but I stayed on and have never returned back to Australia, apart for national team duty and holidays of course.”
“Fortuna has a unique culture and it was an honour to be a part of such a club for so many years.”
Forman and Fortuna enjoyed plenty of success together. There was the silver medal from the European Cup final in 2003 as well as multiple Danish league titles and Danish Cups.
For Australia, Forman took part in plenty of firsts, too. She played every minute of the team’s debut at a FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1995 and also played at the 1999 tournament. She was the captain of Australia for its Olympic debut, on home soil no less, at Sydney 2000.
Forman still lives in Denmark and is still involved in football working for the Dana Cup – a tournament she’s been involved with almost as long as she has been with Fortuna Hjørring.
“When I moved to Denmark to play for Fortuna Hjørring, I started working as a volunteer for their International Youth Soccer Tournament - the Dana Cup Hjørring. The tournament welcomes 1,000 youth football teams from around 45 nations each summer for one week of international youth football games.”
“It is a huge event and something I am extremely honoured to be a part of. Becoming a coach was never something for me but through the tournament I am able to give back to young players from all around the world. Giving them the opportunity to experience something very similar to a World Cup or an Olympic Games at an amateur level.”
“If you actually compare our tournament to a World Cup, it is mind blowing to think we have 1,000 teams playing more than 2,500 games over one week.”