Every so often a football ground can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, be it because of immense scale, architectural audaciousness or its patina of old age, the thrill of discovery is probably the reason that we all take photographs of the grounds we visit. One such stadium that falls into the “patina of old age” category is the home of Sweden’s IFK Nyköping. The Folkungavallen, which literally translates as “young peoples ground”, was the choice of name selected by the townsfolk in 1925 when the local paper, the Södermanland News, held a vote. It is a stadium of immense beauty, still radiant and effortlessly beguiling despite the onslaught of time. The venue was established in 1914 for the Nyköping Agricultural Fair, it wasn’t used as a sports field until five years later. The gatehouse is engaging enough as it is, proud and grandiose, but when the vast gates creak open the piece-de-résistance is revealed in the form of the visually stunning 1926 wooden grandstand an inordinately attractive replacement for the earlier stand at the ground. The intricate side panels, the terracotta tiled roof, its flag poles, the skill of the carpenters for the internal skeleton of the roof, it’s a really stunning piece of architecture. Its proximity to Skavsta airport makes it a relatively easy ground to visit and one that cannot be recommended highly enough.
(First published in Groundtastic – The Football Grounds Magazine Winter 2012 edition, available from http://www.groundtastic.co.uk)