This year’s eighth annual Swedish Groundhop took in five grounds in the Gothenburg area, the first time the football marathon has diverted from the eastern side of this most beautiful of Scandinavian countries. Delightfully we are ferried about in the IFK Gothenburg first team coach, much to the excitement (but ultimate disappointment) of the local populace.
Skärhamns IK 2 Stigen/Ellenö 0
Att: 76 (Div 4 Bohuslän/Dalsland)
Skärhamns Idrottsklubb were formed in 1932 and have never played higher than the third tier of Swedish football. Recent seasons have been tough for Skärhamns, they were relegated from Division 2 in 2010 and dropped straight through to Division 5. The decline was halted when the club won the Division 5 (Bohuslä) in 2013.
The club play their home games at the Tjörns Sparbanken Arena, or the Röavallen in its original, sponsor free guise. The club have played here since 1963 after spending many years on a sand pitch in the centre of the village. The crowd of 1,200 for the inaugural match against Örgryte IS has never been challenged. Nowadays the Röavallen boasts a decent little covered stand that sits proudly on top of a grass bank. Other vantage points include a bench in front of a eclectically decorated garden, the elevated glazed clubhouse and a big outcrop of rock to the right of the stand.
The club harbour hopes of reaching the Third Division as soon as possible but this season the find themselves having a hard start to the Division 4 campaign. Their opponents today, Stigen/Ellenö, have endured an even more torrid start to the season, propping up the table without a win to their name. You can immediately see what is wrong with the visitors, great approach play but very little in the way of a goalscorer. A goal either side of halftime from Erik Johannesen, the first following a goalkeeping howler, was enough to secure the points for the hosts.
Västra Frölunda IF 2 Laholms FK 2
Att: 95 (Div 3 Sydvästra Götaland)
Västra Frölunda Idrottsförening were formed in 1930 and have enjoyed ten seasons in the Swedish top-flight, the Allsvenskan. Their most recent spell ended with relegation in 2000, it does seem scarcely conceivable that this small tree lined ground had the likes of IFK, AIK and Malmö visiting barely 14 years ago. After a liquidation these days the club find themselves in the fifth tier, Division 3 Sydvästra Götaland. They share the small but impressive Ruddalens Idrottsplats with fellow tenants Utsiktens BK, Assyriska BK and BK Skottfint.
Västra Frölunda have made a modest start to the season and sit in mid table along side today’s guests, Laholms FK. The home side establish a comfortable two goal lead through their Brazilian De Souza and the lively Hermansson, but then inexplicably the hosts wilted in the early afternoon sun. A brace of goals in the final seven minutes from Sulejmani and Morad left honours even in this fifth tier encounter.
Qviding FIF 1 Örgryte IS 1
Att: 1,275 (Div.1 Södra)
The Qviding Fräntorps Idrottsförening club date from a 1987 merger of BK Qviding and Fräntorps IF. The old BK Qviding club had taken it’s name from Qvidingsgatan where the clubs founding players lived. The street itself had been named after an 18th century local stack-maker named Lars Quiding. Qviding were in the second tier, the Superettan, as recently as 2011 but after relegation find themselves in the Division 1 Södra. The club play at the interestingly named Valhalla Idrottsplats which they share with the women’s team Kopparbergs/Göteborg and today’s guests and league leaders Örgryte IS. Valhalla is an old nordic word that translates as “The Hall of the Slain” and this nearly became very appropriate in 2008 when a wall collapsed at the ground causing 40 people to by injured, luckily none fatally, during a match between Örgryte and FC Vasby United.
The Valhalla ground was opened in 1963 and has a capacity of 4,000 and also boasts a heated artificial playing surface. The ground is a bit special mainly due to it surroundings, behind the north goal is Sten Samuelsson and Fritz Jaenecke’s futuristic, post apocalypse even, masterpiece that is the now seldom used Nya Ullevi. Behind the opposite end is the Lisebergs amusement park including the “Wheel of Göteborg” Ferris wheel. That backdrop also includes a triumvirate of impressive buildings, the Scandinavium, the Congresscentrum and the Svenska Mässan. Behind the terrace which has a small temporary cover, and which today houses the noisy Inferno Örgryte ultras, lies the photogenic tower of the BRF Tornhuset.
Today is a big football day in the locality, at the Gamla Ullevi GAIS are playing Öster in the Superettan, while at the Valhalla fourth place Qviding take on Division One Södra leaders, Örgryte. The first half passes quickly with much endeavour but scant reward in front of goal. Within thirty seconds of the restart Örgryte take the lead, Frantz Pangop tapping in from a suspiciously offside postion. Örgryte really should have scored more but could not put away their hosts. Eventually they paid for their profligacy when three minutes into injury time Mentor Zhubi’s speculative drive found the corner of the net for a dramatic and unexpected equaliser.
Vänersborgs IF “B” 2 Alingsås IF “B” 2
Att: 33 (Utveckling Elit Div 2 Västra)
An unexpected bonus game for the Sunday morning saw a trip to Vänersvallen home of one of the oldest clubs in Götaland, Vänersborgs Idrottsförening. Formed in 1906 the club play at the better of the two grounds at Vänersvallen, which boasts a lovely wooden stand and a comfortable clubhouse. The south pitch also has a wooden stand, far more modest, and is the home ground of Vänersborgs FK.
VIF have been a relatively regular fixture for touring English clubs, Birmingham City visiting in 1980, Sheffield United in 1984 and most recently QPR in 1994. The English influence stretches to their coaching staff, Bobby Bennett and Andy Kilner having had spells with the side in recent years. This mornings game is for VIF’s development team against the visitors from Alingsås. A very competitive encounter ends 2-2 and you have to say the club cope very well with a sudden and unannounced visit from a load of foreigners arriving in the IFK Gothenburg team coach.
Trollhättans BoIS 5 FC Lidköping United 4
Att: 92 (Division 5 Nord Västra Götaland)
So to the lowest ranked match of the weekend which saw Trollhättans BoIS take on FC Lidköping United at their basic but homely Torsbovallen ground. The welcome is second to n0ne as the everybody enjoys the early afternoon sun. The pick of the grounds features are the wonderful manual scoreboard and the tannoy booth to the left of the bleacher style seating. The club are something of a feeder club for FC Trollhättan and several of their youngsters have graduated to the bigger clubs first team squad.
Today’s match is in Division 5 Nordvästra, which is level seven, and neither of today’s combatants have made a great start to the season. In fact the visitors are rock bottom after nine rounds and desperately in need of a win. A routine home win you would think but the guests haven’t read the script and their speedy breaks and incisive finishing see them 3-2 up at the break. Bohlin grabs an equaliser for the home team before the excellent Restelica puts Lidköping, a team of mainly comprised of Bosnian emigres, back in front. It looked like the visitors would hold on for a precious win but a powerful header from Bohlin levels the proceedings once again. Into injury time a tighter than tight offside call was waved on and Marcus Bergström lashed home an unlikely winner in a hugely entertaining game. The visitors were incensed and Talić earned himself a second yellow card after the final whistle when he continued his protests towards the officials.
FC Trollhättan 4 Kristianstads FF 1
Att: 434 (Div.1 Södra)
A relatively recent merger of two rival but ailing clubs, Trollhättans IF and Trollhättan FK, who combined forces in 2001. A local newspaper made the new clubs first home game free of charge and 3,083 packed into the Edsborgs Idrottsplats. The merged clubs had almost instant success winning the then third tier Second Division Västra Götaland. Although they failed to gain promotion via the play-offs it was certainly a mark of intent. In 2008 Trollhättan won the Division 1 Södra and with it came promotion to the second tier Superettan via an exciting 3-2 win over Falkenberg FF. A huge crowd of 4,338 saw the match at the Edsborgs. Their first season in the Superettan was tough although a relegation play-off victory over Skövde AIK ensured their survival. The 2010 campaign proved tougher still and only five wins all season ensured a relegation place alongside FC Vasby United. Since relegation the club has steadied themselves with decent finishes in the third tier.
The Edborgs was opened in 1944 and also hosts athletics. The large main stand has some nice touches like art deco lettering on the entrance vomitory and an ornate carving of a footballer on the end of the stand. The floodlights are those wonderfully tall old style pylons. There is also an eyecatching terrace opposite the main stand.
Today’s game sees the visit of Kristianstads to the Edborgs and given their similar records a tight encounter is expected. The first half suggests this to be the case with the home side slightly edging proceedings with a clinical finish from Gustafsson. However, the superb channel running and workrate of Trollhättan’s Viktor Mollapulci sees the form book torn up. The lively striker nets the second before a superb strike David Bennhage a minute later effectively settles the encounter. Ekelund reduces the arrears for the lethargic visitors before Mollapulci’s second rounds off a comfortable afternoon for the hosts.
Well that was that, the 8th annual Swedish Groundhop done and dusted. The long weekend in Gothenburg more than vindicating a switch from Sweden’s east coast to the west. Lakes and forests surround a historic city with a rich footballing history. I wonder to which Summer Night City we will turn up to this time next year!