Manchester City are marking 75 years of the Official Supporters Club across 2024, but also the 50th anniversary of our first overseas branch, Norway & Denmark.

We recently spoke to Nils Martinsen, the founder of the Norway and Denmark branch, as he looked back at 50 years of support in Scandinavia and how he came to establish the branch. 

“After being born in Norway 1953, my family travelled to South Africa. It was here my interest in English football emerged with many footballers ending their careers here, so the interest was enormous.

“A neighbour and friend of mine from Scotland supported Man United and insisted I was to be City when playing against each other. I obliged easily having seen the magazines he gave me from England. The City team photos and colour appealed to me. I became a true blue from then on.

“Back in Norway in 1967, there was very little interest in English football, other than a few English newspapers we got two or three days later. Weather permitting, we could listen to the BBC for results, if not we would have to wait until Monday for the scores.


“Eventually, the Shoot and Goal magazines arrived and allowed me to find a pen pal from Manchester.

“I ended up with several pen pals and one of them became our first President, Steven Willment. Steve later put me in touch with our General Secretary Frank Horrocks.

“At first, Frank was quite pessimistic about the idea being so far away, but we managed to convince him that I had experience with the idea from my days in South Africa.

“We soon travelled to Manchester and I met Frank and Les Saul the Chairman of the Official Supporters Club, with a list of 22 members which did not take long to complete and we were official!

“We were quickly aware that we were the first to start a Supporters Club for an English team outside the UK, but by 1981 we had over 500 members. 

“Before then, in 1976 is our best memory as we met the players and officials a couple of hours after the Wembley Final, and we sang and danced with the League Cup trophy and fellow supporters.

“It was mind-blowing and to this day many people do not believe us. It only proved the saying that City were the club for the people in Manchester.

“The Scandinavian members have during these early years experienced seeing and meeting the City players and officials on many occasions, on the many trips to Maine Road and later the pre-season visits to Scandinavia.

“In 1989 I had the pleasure of arranging their five pre-season games for City in Norway, and their stay was once again in Fredrikstad.

“Having been a goalkeeper myself I had the privilege of playing against City too, only for the last 10 minutes though. City beat Lervik 10-0, Clive Allen scoring five.

“After 15 years of being head of the Norway Branch, the reins were handed over to Mr Tor Sønsteby.

“I’m still proud to be a part a member of the Norway & Denmark Supporters Club, and every year we host what we call “ut i det blå” (meaning “out in the blue”). Last year we planned a trip to watch Maine Road Football Club, the year before we had a boat trip on the River Irwell.

“We have also been to Chesterfield and Mansfield in the past, and on other occasions, we stay in Manchester city centre and invite special guests such as Peter Barnes, Joe Corrigan, Tommy Booth, Alex Willams and Kevin Parker.

“So, fellow Manchester City fans, welcome to Fredrikstad, we are 50 years old.”

The Norway and Denmark branch has been under the stewardship of General Secretary, Tor Sønsteby since 1989.

Tor, who is still General Secretary to this day, had a similar experience in supporting City in the early years of the branch.

“I joined the OSC as a member in 1978 when I saw City play live for the first time when they were in Norway on pre-season.

“Before that I had become a fan due to Francis Lee, listening to BBC and had been watching City’s games on Norwegian TV since 1969.

“Our branch covers the whole of Norway and Denmark but do not have regular branch meetings because of the distance between members. We as a branch have always produced our own magazine to update our members and have been posting it out to members five times a season now for 50 years!

“We as a branch have always been very closely connected to Manchester City and when funds were limited in the club in the 80s and 90s, we took part in setting up pre-season tours in Scandinavia.

“City then played Norwegian and Swedish teams as the older fans and ex-players will remember. To this day we still actively meet up with the likes of Joe Corrigan, Tommy Booth, Asa Hartford and Peter Barnes who we now see as personal friends.

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“Peter Barnes, our Branch president, took over from his late father Ken Barnes who was a very important contact for years for our branch members.

“As our Membership has grown from around 200 when I took over in 1989, to around 2,200 OSC members now, so has our Charity work.

“We have actively supported Alex Williams’ CITC work from the beginning and also raised money to support Bernard Halford’s 250 club in order to raise funds for City’s Youth Academy.

“We run a raffle every home game and support one major charity every year. I am happy to say that our members contributed more than £10,000 in aid to CITC in the past 2 seasons. Besides this we also raise money for Maine Road FC.

“Within the branch we also have 80 seasoncards in use so it is quite normal that we take 100 members to every home Premier League match. The work behind the supporters club is very time consuming and with organising tickets it is like running a travel agency sometimes!

“I was lucky at the age of 55 to take early retirement in 2016 and every branch secretary will understand the reason behind this and what work lies behind running a branch our size. We have some long-standing fans that have been members since 1974 when we were founded.

“That is probably every City fan’s greatest asset. We are a like a huge family and we all know what it is to suffer result wise, which makes things the more sweeter these days when we see the success we have had the past 12 years.”

If you’d like to find out more about the Norway and Denmark branch or any of our Official Supporters Clubs, please click here.