Valerenga Fotball (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈvoːɽɛŋɑ] (listen)) is a Norwegian association football club from Oslo and a part of the multi-sport club Valerengens IF. Founded in 1913, the club is named after the neighbourhood of Valerenga. Valerenga's home ground is Intility Arena, located in Valle-Hovin. Valerenga are five-time league champions and four-time Norwegian Football Cup champions, having last won the league in 2005 and the cup in 2008. The club has a somewhat mythical status due to a history of colorful players, staff and fans.


Early days (1913–45)

The history of Valerenga Fotball goes back to Fotballpartiet Spark, which was founded in 1898 by pastor Hans Moller Gasmann. An early mission for Gasmann was to give the local youth social activity and exercise. On a larger scale, the club was part of the movement known as Muscular Christianity. A successor to this football club, Idrettslaget Spring, was founded on 29 July 1913 by a group of teenage factory workers. A year later, the club changed its name to Vaalerengens Idrattsforening. Rooted in the neighborhood of Valerenga on the east end of Oslo, the club would recruit players and supporters from the many workers in the area, in a society then characterized for its low mobility between social strata. Within its first seasons, Valerengen would compete with the major clubs in Oslo at that time; Lyn, Mercantile and Frigg. Where Lyn and Frigg had a strong identity with the academia and the upper classes, Valerengen developed a working class identity.

Valerengens Idrettsforening had mixed success in its first years, but fortunes improved as the 1920s came around and the club secured promotion to the Oslo Championships in 1921. Valerengen won the Oslo Championships four times before a national league (Norgesserien) was established in 1937. In the 1948–49 season, Valerengen finished second.

After this period, Valerengen entered a period of instability, being relegated from the top division two times in the 1950s.

The Bohemians (1946–68)

The charismatic Helmuth Steffens became a central figure in building up the culture in the club after the war. At the beginning of the 1960s, a new generation of local players broke into Valerengen's first squad. Players like Einar Bruno Larsen, Terje Hellerud and Leif Eriksen became core personalities of a group of players which eventually became known as Bohemene (The Bohemians). The club would become known for its brilliant style of football as the number of people in the audience increased. The players became popular for their charismatic, witty comments and light hearted humour. Valerengen secured a third place in 1961.

In 1965, Valerengen won the First Division for the first time. By the help of manager Helmuth Steffens and head coach Anton Ploderer, the club had managed to win the title with a team of local players. The league was won in dramatic fashion, with arch-rivals Lyn giving Valerengen a fight for the title until the final matches of the season.

The Bohemian era came to an end when the club was relegated from the First Division in 1968 and then again to the Third Division in 1970. Valerengen did not achieve promotion to the top league again until 1974. In 1976, Valerenga signed Odd Iversen, who at the time had 112 First Division goals to his name. Iversen would help the club reestablish itself in the First Division.

The glory years (1977–86)

The 80s saw the emergence of a new generation. With the help of players like Tom Jacobsen and Vidar Davidsen, Valerengen would win its first cup title in 1980.

Led by head coach Leif Eriksen, the team won the First Division title for the second time in 1981 with a style of play characterized by intensity and discipline. The club was unable to reclaim the league title in 1982, but won it again in 1983 and 1984. During the decade, Valerengen would also become twice runners-up in the cup and also achieve a third place in the league in 1985. Valerengen had become a stable top team for the first and, to date, only time.

1985 also saw the signing of striker Jorn Andersen, who would go on to score 23 goals in 22 matches in his sole season for Valerengen. However, as the club had miscalculated the home crowd average, the club entered severe financial difficulties. Valerenga was saved from bankruptcy in 1987.

Ups and downs (1987–2003)

In 1990, now known as Valerenga, the club was relegated after 14 seasons in the top division. Valerenga was close to further relegation in the 1992 season, but managed to remain in the second highest division thanks to a last round 3–0 win against Eik-Tonsberg IF. In 1994, Valerenga returned to the top division, but were relegated again in 1996. In 1997 Valerenga won the cup and the 1. divisjon and were again promoted to Tippeligaen. As earlier in the 1990s, the stay in the top division lasted only a few years.

In the 2000 season Valerenga lost the play-off matches against Sogndal and was relegated to the 1. divisjon. Valerenga returned to Tippeligaen and won the cup in 2002.

The 2003 season was poor for Valerenga and they wound up third last in the league sending them into play-offs against Sandefjord to avoid relegation. The result was a 0–0 draw in Sandefjord and a 5–3 victory in Oslo and so Valerenga retained the position in the top league and avoided relegation.

Success, disappointments and troubles (2004–12)

Valerenga rebounded nicely in the 2004 season and proved a serious challenge to the dominant Rosenborg team in the bid for the league's gold medal. After a frantic final round where Valerenga beat Stabak 3–0, they missed out on the league title since Rosenborg beat FK Lyn, Valerenga's city rivals 4–1. Valerenga won the silver medal, finishing 2nd to Rosenborg equal on points and goal difference, but Valerenga had scored fewer goals than Rosenborg during the season, leaving Rosenborg as league champions.

At the start of the 2005 season it was apparent that Rosenborg was in bad shape and it seemed like Valerenga's season to go all the way. After a strong season opening, the surprise of the season IK Start – newly promoted to the Tippeligaen – looked to give Valerenga a fight to the finish, and the two clubs basically alternated on leading the series to the final round. On 29 October it looked to be a thrilling last round reminiscent of the previous year, as both Start and Valerenga had exactly the same number of points, but Start with a slightly better goal difference. Start met Fredrikstad FK at home, while Valerenga met Odd Grenland away. Eventually Fredrikstad, who faced relegation if they lost, beat Start 3–1 while at the same time Valerenga managed a 2–2 draw against Odd Grenland. Valerenga stepped one up from the previous year, and won the title with a one-point margin. The title was Valerenga's first league title in 21 years, ending Rosenborg's 13-year reign as league champions.

The follow-up season of 2006 did not start out as well for the reigning champions, and a poor start left them at the bottom of the table after seven rounds, having gained only 5 points. A steady rise in form though still brought the team to 6th place by the time the season was half-through. Late July brought a string of bad results, including embarrassing losses to main rival FK Lyn, and the exit from the UEFA Champions League, after losing 5–3 on aggregate to Czech club Mlada Boleslav in the 2nd qualifying round. Valerenga had aimed to qualify for the tournament after missing out the previous year by being defeated by Belgian side Club Brugge on a penalty shoot-out. After losing five out of seven games between 22 July and 19 August head-coach Kjetil Rekdal announced his resignation. Assistant coach Petter Myhre took over as interim manager, and as a result the club regained their form and scored 25 out of the last 30 possible points, bringing the club to a third place in the league, as well as a qualification spot for the 2007–08 Europa League. Valerenga also qualified for play in the 2006–07 Scandinavian Royal League after finishing among the top four teams in Norway. In October 2006, Petter Myhre was hired on a permanent basis, but he would resign in July 2007, following a string of bad results.

In November 2007, Martin Andresen signed a three-year contract to become the next manager of Valerenga. Heavy investment from owners and investors saw the signing of several high-profile players, most notably Lars Iver Strand and Kristoffer Hastad. However, despite winning the 2008 Norwegian Football Cup, the following season was a disappointment, with Valerenga finishing 10th in the league. In the 2009 season, Valerenga finished 7th, reaching the semifinal in the cup. 2010 saw a revitalized Valerenga, led by a trio of effective forwards, Mohammed Abdellaoue, Bengt Saternes and Luton Shelton. Valerenga finished second in the league.

However, Valerenga could not repeat the success in 2011 and 2012. In October 2012, Andresen and Valerenga agreed to part ways.

A new era (2013–present)

Kjetil Rekdal returned to the club as head coach in January 2013. Facing economic difficulties from previous seasons and being without a shirt sponsorship deal, Valerenga spent much of the 2014 season dealing with a severe risk of bankruptcy, finally signing a new shirt sponsorship deal with DnB on 29 July. The signing of striker Vidar Orn Kjartansson in front of 2014 season proved to be a huge success, with the Icelandic player scoring 25 goals in 29 games, helping the Oslo club secure a sixth place in the league after a drop in form in the latter half of the season.

On 13 July 2016, Ronny Deila was appointed as the new head coach. Deila was originally planned to take over in January 2017, but was involved in the coaching team for the final games of the 2016 season. Kjetil Rekdal was to become director of sports, but left the club in early 2017. In December 2019, Ronny Deila left to become the coach of New York City Football Club. In January 2020, Dag-Eilev Fagermo became the new head coach.

Valerenga moved into their newly built stadium, Intility Arena, in September 2017. This was a historic move for the club, after spending 104 years without owning a home stadium. The new stadium is also close to Valerenga neighborhood of Oslo.

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