Tromso Idrettslag is a Norwegian professional football club founded in 1920, based in the city of Tromso. They play their home games at Alfheim Stadion. Tromso play in the Eliteserien.

Tromso have won the Norwegian Cup twice, in 1986 and 1996, and have competed in several UEFA competitions; the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Intertoto Cup and UEFA Europa League. The Norwegian Cup trophies make Tromso the northernmost club in the world to have won a nationwide title.


1920–39: The pre-war years

The club was founded on 15 September 1920, and given the name Tromso Turnforenings Fotballag (Tromso Gymnastics Association's Football Team), or Turn for short. The first match after the formal foundation was against cross-town rivals IF Skarp, a 0–0 draw. However, it would not take long before success came to Turn, and in 1927, the club won its first district championship.

In 1930, the club changed its name to Tromso Idrettslag because the Norwegian Sports Association thought the club's name was too close to the name of Tromso Gymnastics Association. However, this was only temporary, and the club changed its name to Tor in 1931. 1931 would also be the year the club won its first Northern Norwegian Cup, the highest possible achievement for a Northern Norwegian club at the time. The club beat Mo IL 3–1 in the final. The year after, the Norwegian Sports Association ruled the club could not be named Tor, and so Tromso Idrettslag was again chosen, this time permanently. Tromso also won its second district championship in 1932, but was eliminated in the semi-finals of the Northern Norwegian Cup. The 1930s proved to be a good decade for Tromso, as the club won district championships in 1933, 1936 and 1937. However, sports activities came to an end in 1940 because of World War II, and the club did not play again before 1945.

1945–1969: Two Northern-Norwegian cup championships

Tromso started the post-war years in a good fashion, winning the club's sixth district championship in 1946. In 1949, Tromso won its second Northern Norwegian cup. This time, the final match was played at Harstad Stadium, and Tromso were to play FK Bodo/Glimt. Tromso won 3–1, just like in 1931.

Tromso then won five consecutive district championships between 1950 and 1954, before the club was introduced into the Norwegian league system (Northern Norwegian clubs could still not be promoted to the top division, however). The club's third and last Northern Norwegian cup came in 1956. Tromso met Harstad IL – the champions of the previous three years – in Harstad, making Harstad the favourites. However, Tromso won the match 2–0.

Clubs from Northern Norway were allowed into the Norwegian cup in 1963, and Tromso participated for the first time in 1964, advancing to the second round after beating FK Mjolner. The club was eliminated in the second round by Nidelv IL. The 1960s were also a period of stadium expansions for the club, with both Valhall Stadium and Alfheim Stadium getting grass fields. Because of the inclusion of Northern Norwegian clubs in the Norwegian Cup, the Northern Norwegian Cup was eventually dropped. Tromso played its last Northern Norwegian Cup match in 1969.

1970–1985: Build-up for the top division

With Northern Norwegian clubs accepted in the cup, the only thing left to be included in was the top division. This occurred in 1972, when FK Mjolner moved to the 1. divisjon. However, at the time, Tromso was fighting in the bottom of the Northern Norwegian 2nd division (Until 1979, the 2. divisjon was divided in three different groups, two southern and one northern – with the winners of the southern groups being promoted to the top division, while the winner of the northern group would have to face the 2nd placed teams of the two southern groups), and was eventually relegated. In 1975, Tromso would be back in the 2. divisjon after winning promotion the year before. However, the club was once more relegated, this time after only one season in the second highest level of the league system. Tromso was back in the 2. divisjon in 1978, and won it this time. However, the qualification matches against the two southern teams Hamarkameratene and Fredrikstad FK were lost 3–0 and 1–0 respectively. The next year, 1979, marked the first year with an all-Norwegian 2. divisjon, giving equal chances for all teams, regardless of geographical position. Tromso did not do too well and was again relegated.

Tromso was immediately promoted back to the 2. divisjon after not losing a single match in the 3. divisjon in 1980. Then followed relegation in 1981 and promotion in 1982, before the club finally managed to establish itself in the 2nd division. Two decent seasons in 1983 and 1984 were followed by a second-place finish in 1985, which meant the club would again play qualification matches for the top division. First, Sogndal were beaten 1–0. Then, Tromso won the decisive match against Moss FK 1–0, after a legendary penalty kick save by goalkeeper Bjarte Flem. Tromso became the third and, for the time being, latest Northern Norwegian club to qualify for the top division, the other two being FK Mjolner and FK Bodo/Glimt.

1986–2001: 16 years in the top division

The first season in the top division would be very hard for Tromso, the club eventually had to play qualification to survive. The club was highly successful in the cup the same year, however, beating top division champions Lillestrom SK 4–1 in the final match, a match that had been thought to be a walk in the park for Lillestrom before it was played.

An experiment in the 1987 season proved valuable to Tromso: tied matches would be decided on penalty shootouts, awarding three points for a win, two for a shootout win, one for a shootout loss and zero for a loss. Thanks to Bjarte Flem's exceptional penalty saves, Tromso won seven out of nine shootouts this year. The experiment was dropped after the season. However, the system with three points for a victory was kept. In 1988, Tromso ended fifth in the league, the season of Bjarte Flems' infamous own goal.

The 1989 and 1990 seasons would become the two most successful top division seasons to date, with Tromso winning a bronze and a silver respectively. The club's coach during this time, Tommy Svensson, would later move on to coach the Sweden national team to a bronze medal in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

The following seasons saw Tromso end sixth, eighth, sixth and seventh (all safe mid-table positions) before the expansion of the Norwegian top flight from 12 to 14 teams in 1995, when Tromso again ended sixth.

In 1996, ten years after the club's first cup championship, Tromso would again qualify for a cup final. This time, the opponents were FK Bodo/Glimt, which made the final match historical, the first time in history two Northern Norwegian clubs would play each other in a cup final. This also meant that the club winning the match would have bragging rights as the best club in Northern Norway. Tromso eventually won the match, after a late 2–1 goal by Sigurd Rushfeldt in his last match before leaving for Rosenborg BK. The 1996 cup championship was the club's last championship to date. Tromso also ended 5th in the league.

1997 did not go too well for Tromso, and after earning only two points during the last seven matches of the season, the club ended 12th in the league and had to play qualification matches to survive. The opponents were Eik-Tonsberg, and Tromso won 4–0 and 2–1, which meant Tromso would still be in the top division. Another poor season followed in 1998, but Tromso avoided qualification matches this time, ending 11th in the league. 1999 saw Tromso back in the mid-table sections when the club won sixth place, scored 70 goals, and became the first (and only) Northern Norwegian club to have the top scorer of the top division with Rune Lange's 23 goals. Tromso then had one of its best seasons ever in 2000, finishing fourth in the league.

In 2001, Tromso was relegated from the top division for the first time in history. After two very strong opening wins, the club went on a seven-match losing streak where not a single goal was scored. Tromso eventually ended last, scoring only 23 goals in 26 matches.

2002–present: Second spell in the top division

Tromso won the 1. divisjon in 2002, and was thus immediately re-introduced into the top division.

Tromso is the Norwegian top division club which has had the most coaches since 2000. Terje Skarsfjord (who also coached the club during its 1996 cup championship), Tommy Svensson (who made a brief return to the club to attempt to save it from relegation in 2001, ten years after having left the club for the Swedish national team), Trond Johansen, Per Mathias Hogmo, Otto Ulseth, Steinar Nilsen and Ivar Morten Normark have all coached the club at some time after the year 2000.

The 2003 season looked as if it would send Tromso back to the first division, but they rescued their place in the Tippeligaen by scoring a winning goal three minutes into injury time in the season's final match against league champions Rosenborg BK. The arrival of Per Mathias Hogmo before the 2004 season proved to be a success. Tromso had another good season and finished fourth in the league, which qualified them for the Royal League and, as a result of third-placed team SK Brann's victory in the cup that year, the UEFA Cup. After his first successful year, Hogmo opted not to extend his contract and his former assistant Otto Ulseth was promoted to head coach.

The 2005 season began disappointingly and Ulseth was sacked after only 15 league matches, when Tromso was struggling to avoid relegation. The head coach for the remainder of the season became Ulseth's former assistant Steinar Nilsen, who managed to turn Tromso's poor form around. After a club record five consecutive victories, Tromso secured its place in the Tippeligaen with a 1–0 home win over Viking FK in the second-last matchday of the season. Tromso also had the top scorer of the top division for the second time in history, as Ole Martin Arst finished the season with 16 goals. The club finished the season in eighth place.

The relegation of FK Bodo/Glimt meant Tromso were the only team from Northern Norway in the 2006 season. Before the 2006 season, following Steinar Nilsen's resignation, Ivar Morten Normark was made the new Tromso manager. After a rather unsatisfactory start to the season, Tromso began negotiating to terminate the contract with Normark on 26 July 2006. Until a new coach could be found, former assistant Agnar Christensen acted as head coach. On 4 August, Normark and Tromso reached an agreement, meaning Normark would leave the club. On 11 August, Steinar Nilsen was appointed coach signing a three-and-a-half-year contract with the club. Nilsen managed to save Tromso from relegation once more, leading the club to a tenth-place finish.

Since the end of 2007, Tromso enjoyed domestic success, with the club finishing inside the league's top four on five occasions since the 2008 season. This meant the Tromso would regularly take part in the qualification rounds for the UEFA Europa League. Built mainly on a strong home record, Tromso finished third in both the 2008 and 2010 seasons, before going one better the next season and finishing runners-up in the 2011 Tippeligaen, five points behind the Champions Molde FK. After a fourth-placed finish in the 2012 season, Tromso finished 15th at the end of a disappointing 2013 Tippeligaen and were relegated to the 1. divisjon. Spending most of the season in the bottom half of the table, Tromso finished second last on 29 points, four points from safety. Tromso were relegated to the 2014 1. divisjon, Norway's second tier, before gaining promotion straight back into the top-tier by finishing the season in second place with 59 points, ten points behind champions Sandefjord.

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