Three’s a Crowd, a Short History of Malmö Football

There cannot be many clubs in existence that have all its previous grounds still standing and in use for football, but such is the case with Malmö FF.

Malmö Fotbollförening were formed in 1910 after BK Idrotts had merged with IFK Malmö a year before only to de-merge following a difference of opinion between the two. Malmö FF initially played at the magnificent Malmö Idrottsplats which they shared with rivals IFK Malmö. Opened in July 1896 the Malmö Idrottsplats is located north of Pildammsparken off the junction between Pildammsvägen and  Karl Gustafsväg. The first football matches in the Malmö area had taken place on a field at Rörsjöstaden, and featured local men against the already established Kjøbenhavns Boldklub. The local cycling club  Malmö Velocipedklubb, who also used Rörsjöstaden, were so impressed with this new sport they immediately formed their own football wing. In 1893 MVK were notified that their sports ground was needed for housing and after consultation with Malmö Stad the land north of Pildammsparken was offered as a replacement.

The Idrottsplats was home to IFK between 1903 and 1958 and for Malmö FF from 1910-58 before both decamped to the Malmö Stadion newly opened for the football World Cup. A third club, Malmö Boll and Idrottsförening, now called FC Rosengård, also played at the IP from 1904 having been formed by former MVK members. Initially the IP had a cycling and athletics track but after MVK folded and athletics moved to the Malmö Stadion, the IP was reconfigured to a football only venue from 1999. After the big two clubs moved to the Malmö Stadion, lower division football remained at the IP in the form of FC Rosengård and IF Allians. The former moved to their own district IP in 1973 and Allians moved to Kronsprinsen. The IP had fallen into disuse and disrepair so the renovations of 1978 and later in 1999 saved this wonderful venue from an ignominious end. Despite Malmö FF’s glorious history, including that memorable European Cup Final defeat to Nottingham Forest in 1979, crowds for both them and IFK fell massively towards the end of the century and it was decided that an improved Malmö IP was the answer. After just a season back at their original home, however, FF decided that it was far from suitable to their needs and swiftly returned to the Stadion. IFK stayed at the IP until 2008 when in protest to the installation of an artificial pitch, they rejoined FF at the Malmö Stadion. The IP is used by Malmö FF for pre season friendlies as invariably the artificial turf is perfect for their winter warm up games.

Nowadays the IP is home to FC Rosengård once again, the clubs ladies team are in the Damen Allsvenskan and take priority use of the IP. If there is no conflicting fixture the men also play there in preference to their own Rosengård IP in Frölichs Väg. The IP has five separate stands all beautifully clad in that pale yellow weatherboard so prevalent in old Swedish grounds. Thank goodness Malmö Stad decided against demolition all those years ago for it is a real treasure.

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So the story moves on to 1958, Sweden World Cup hosts, a teenage Pelé and Brazil sweep all before them to win the Jules Rimet, the first nation to do so away from their own continent. France’s Just Fontaine peppers the Nordic nets no less than 13 times an all time Mundial record. Football becomes a true global game. The Swedes are magnificent hosts with the stadiums in Stockholm (Råsunda), Gothenburg (Ullevi), Borås (Ryavallen), Eskilstuna (Tunavallen), Norrköping (Idrottsparken), Helsingborg (Olympia), Sandviken (Jernvallen), Uddevalla (Rimnersvallen) and Malmö being selected to stage matches.

Malmö’s Idrottsplats could hold 20,000, and indeed a 1956 derby with Helsingborgs saw an all time record gate of 22,436 cram into the old IP. However a crowd crushing incident for the same game in 1951 weighed heavily on the minds of the commune and it was decided that a new bigger venue would be built for the World Cup on a site to the south of Pildammsparken.

Designed by architects Sten Samuelsson and Fritz Jaenecke the Malmö Stadion is a real monument to reinforced concrete, all graceful curves and extensive external load bearing cantilevers. Even nearly 60 later it is still a magnificent venue and can hold 27,500. It is a great pity that its sole tenant, IFK Malmö, struggle to attract three figure crowds now their glory days are very much behind them.

In 2009 the mighty Malmö FF moved to the newly opened Swedbank Stadion, built directly behind the Malmö Stadion. Designed by Fojab architects it is UEFA 4 star compliant and as bog standard as you would expect for a new arena style stadium. However, moving there has seen an upturn in fortune for the Sky Blues resulting in three Allsvenskan titles and regularly income from Champions League campaigns.

I saw Malmö FF play IF Elfsborg at the Swedbank Stadion and it was a tense encounter. The hosts are second in the table with eight games left and a 22nd Allsvenskan in their sights. Meanwhile, Elfsborg are sixth and hopeful of a Europa League place come the final reckoning. A very tense game eschewed with neither side really pressing fearful of a fateful mistake. However, as the stadium clock struck 90 minutes, substitute Erdal Rakip jinked past three Elfsborg defenders and guided the ball into the corner of the net. The stadium erupted and the magnificent supporters of this great club went home relieved and happy.

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Allsvenskan (22/09/2016)

Malmö FF 1 (Rakip 90)

IF Elfsborg 0

Att:16,597

Admission SEK285 (£25) programme free

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Two days later I saw IFK Malmö take on Nybro IF in a Division 2 (fourth tier) match at the magnificent Malmö Stadion. Sadly only 125 people paid the eight euros entry to this glorious place. An entertaining match first swung in the favour of the visitors but some excellent finishes from IFK ensured the points stayed in Malmö. This stadium is so good it seems somewhat criminal that the incumbent club attract so few supporters even with their illustrious past.

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Division 2 Södra Götaland (24/09/2016)

IFK Malmö 3 (Asekzaj 29, Ljung 59, El-Kayed 90)

Nybro IF 1 (Johansson 26)

Att:125  (at Malmö Stadion)

Admission SEK80 (£8) free programme

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