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.

Gallery

sept-2016-403 sept-2016-343 sept-2016-344 sept-2016-345 sept-2016-346 sept-2016-400 sept-2016-401 sept-2016-402

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.

mff

Allsvenskan (22/09/2016)

Malmö FF 1 (Rakip 90)

IF Elfsborg 0

Att:16,597

Admission SEK285 (£25) programme free

Gallery

sept-2016-106 sept-2016-107 sept-2016-108 sept-2016-109 sept-2016-111 sept-2016-112 sept-2016-122 sept-2016-125 sept-2016-126

sept-2016-137

malmo-prog

malmo-ticket

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.

ifk

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

Gallery

sept-2016-099 sept-2016-103 sept-2016-354 sept-2016-357 sept-2016-360 sept-2016-363 sept-2016-366 sept-2016-372

sept-2016-388

ifk-malmo-prog

 

 

Goat Town (Gefle IF)

Gefle Idrottsförening, or GIF, were formed in December 1882 as Gefle SK although the current name was adopted only months later. Gefle itself is the ancient spelling of Gävle a port town around 110 miles north of Stockholm. The port and town thrived on exports of copper and iron and remains a busy hub for sea transportation. The town is renowned internationally for the Gävle goat, a huge straw goat that is erected and burnt every yuletide.

As with many clubs in Sweden the GIF club was originally a multi sports club that then created a football offshoot. In the case of Gefle, football was introduced to the town by an English accountant called Robert Carrick. Carrick would manage the club until 1907. During his tenure the club gained early success in the short lived Rosenska Pokalen winning the first three tournaments defeating AIK twice and also Djurgårdens IF in the finals. At the time the club refused to participate in the Svenska Mästerskapet which was a cup tournament held to decide the best team in all of Sweden with the final alternating between Gothenburg and Stockholm. This meant probably the best side in the east of the country at the time never tested itself against Gothenburg’s Örgryte IS who were the dominant side in the early years of this competition.

Since those early successes Gefle have mainly been a second and third tier club with two short spells in the Allsvenskan in the 1930’s and 1980’s. The 1950’s were a dark period for the club and having sunk to the fourth tier the board actively discussed folding the club altogether. In 1979 the club briefly merged with Brynäs IF although this lasted only three seasons. Gefle enjoyed a renaissance under Kenneth Rosén gaining promotion to the top flight in 2004 as runners up in the Superettan to BK Häcken. The club have done exceptionally well to remain in the Allsvenskan ever since and finished 12th last season. On three occasions during their top tier tenure Gefle had qualified for the UEFA Cup/Europa League. They lost to Llanelli in the first qualifying round of the 2006/07 tournament, and to Georgians Dinamo Tblisi in the second qualifying round in the 2010/11 competition. Two years later they defeated Estonians Narva Trans and Anorthosis of Cyprus before succumbing to Azerbaijanis Qarabağ FK in the third qualifying round.

The club have played at the site now occupied by Strömvallen since 1903, prior to this the town had no set sports ground and games had to be staged in the courtyard of Läroverket school. Strömvallen with its wonderfully ornate wooden grandstand, opened in 1923 and was designed by Erik Vestergren. Extensively modelled on Torben Grut’s iconic Stockholm Olympic stadium the Strömvallen is classical 1920’s design. However, other than the ground of newly promoted Falkenberg, the Strömvallen has the smallest capacity in the top flight at a little over 6,700.

In May 2013 it was announced that the club and the municipality had agreed to build a new, modern stadium in the Sätraåsen area of Gävle, so this is the last campaign at the old stadium. For the 2015 season the club will play at their new stadium, currently known as the Gävlehov Arena. Sadly for the old Strömvallen it does not meet the stringent ground grading rules set by the Swedish FA in 2013 and its days were really numbered from that point.

The area had been a running track since October 1900 and was then known as Strömdalen and was built on the site of the derelict Rettigska orphanage. The football pitch was laid in 1903 and shared with athletics until 1984 when it became a football only facility. It was athletics that bought world wide attention to the Strömvallen in the 1940’s when it was the home track of legendary middle and long distance runner, Gunder Hägg, who was virtually unbeatable for a decade. Hägg is honoured with a bronze statue “The Runner” outside the stadium. Hägg also an athletics stadium named after him in another part of town.

The stadium was extensively remodelled in 1966 and floodlights were also erected at that time. The stadium still has extensive standing room and only gained seating outside of the grandstand after the turn of the 21st century.

This evening’s game sees Åtvidabergs FF visit the Strömvallen for the last time. While both sides are in the lower reaches of the table both should survive unless either Mjällby of Brommapojkarna pull of a miracle escape act from the bottom two places. The game is played in surprisingly hot conditions and is not the greatest of spectacles. A late goal from Åtvidabergs’ substitute Victor Sköld seals the points for the visitors. He had been on the pitch barely three minutes when he slotted home a ball optimistically drilled across the penalty area.

150px-Gefle_IF.svg

Saturday August 30th 2014 – Allsvenskan

Gefle IF (0) 0

Åtvidabergs FF (0) 1 (Sköld 83)

Attendance: 3,270 (at Strömvallen)

Gefle:

1. Emil Hedvall, 4. Anders Wikström, 14. Jens Portin, 6. Jesper Florén, 16. David Fällman, 17. Jonas Lantto, 19. Marcus Hansson, 7. Robin Nilsson, 12. Anders Bååth-Sjöblom, 8. Simon Lundevall, 9. Johan Oremo.

Subs: 3. Jonas Olsson, 10. Dioh Williams (for 17,81 mins), 13. Johan Bertilsson (for 19,86 mins), 15. Skuli Jon Fridgeirsson (for 4,43 mins), 20. Emil Bellander, 24. Erik Olsson, 30. Oskar Larsson.

Ådvidabergs:

1. Henrik Gustavsson, 2. Alan Arenfeldt Olesen, 3. Månz Karlsson, 24. Tom Petterson, 5. Daniel Hallingström, 6. Mohammed Abubakari, 16. Pontus Nordenberg, 32. Martin Christensen, 7. Kristian Bergström, 11. Ricardo Santos, 19. John Owoeri.

Subs: 9. Victor Sköld (for 19,80 mins), 10. Daniel Sjölund (for 2,76 mins), 13. Alberis Silva (for 32,86 mins), 14. Simon Skrabb, 18. Joel Rajalakso, 20. Gustav Jansson, 23. Emmanuel Ageymang-Boakye.

Yellow cards: Bååth-Sjöblom, Lundevall (GIF); Petterson, Gustavsson (AFF)

Gallery

Gefle 0814 001

Gefle 0814

Gefle 0814 073

Gefle 0814 023

Gefle 0814 045

Gefle 0814 074

Gefle 0814 075

Gefle 0814 054

Gavle 0814 011

Gefle Prog

Time Travelling at the Stockholms Stadion (Djurgårdens IF)

Simon Inglis’ epic tome on European football grounds had long made me hanker after seeing a game at the Stockholms Stadion, venue for the 1912 Olympiad. It’s been the long held thesis that athletics tracks should not and cannot be enjoyed as a football venue. As with most things in life there is an exception to every rule and this venue knocks holes in that theory big time.

Designed by architect Torben Grut, this fine venue with crenulated roofs, flag poles galore, tented royal box and carved roof supports is little changed a century after it’s inauguration. However, the footballing future, at least, of the Stockholms Stadion looks uncertain as the resident club, Djurgården IF, decamp to the new Stockholm Arena with Hammarby at the end of the 2012 season. With AIK taken up residency in the new national stadium it means that in one season the Söderstadion, the Råsunda and the Stockholms will be lost to football.

Arriving at the stadium is easy, tunnelbana to the simply titled Stadion station gets you in the mood, proudly displaying a 1912 Olympics poster and the crests of the resident clubs past and present.

The stadium greets you with a retro board advertising the latest Allsvenskan clash for the home club against Gothenburg based BK Häcken. A circumvention of the exterior is a must to fully appreciate the workmanship in this construction. Tall towers in the corners, two with roof mounted floodlights, statues of athletes contorting in Olympian performance, weather vanes, ostentatious lamps and vintage turnstiles. The Stockholms Stadion has it all.

Armed with a free programme I take my place in section O a few sections away from the flag waving Ultras. The seats are numbing wooden planks but I don’t care as the full beauty of this stadium grabs me. It’s a rare and true beauty that can only be obtained from the patina of old age.

On the field Djurgården are little match for their title chasing visitors and Häcken stroll to a comfortable 3-0 win in front of 5,594 people.

If this season is to be the last for football in this grand old stadium then it is a truly sad time, but I am glad to have seen a game in one of my all time favourite venues.

(First published with extended gallery by In Bed With Maradona)

Djurgården IF (0)0 BK Häcken (1) 3 (Anklev 35,Williams 54,Majeed 82)

Attendance:5,594

DIF:12.Kenneth Hohe;6.Peter Nymann;20.Andreas Dahlen;2.Joona Toivo(c); 13.Emil Bergstrom;5.Petter Gustafsson;11.Daniel Sjolund;16.Kasper Hamalainen;31.Simon Tibbling;8.James Keene;10.Erton Fejzullahu.

Subs:4.Yussid Chisbah;15.Brian Span (on for 8,86 mins);23.Tommi Vaiho; 24.Daniel Jarl;25.Sebastian Rajalakso(on for 5,54 mins);27.Kennedy Igboananike (on for 31,67 mins);28.Alhaji Kamara.

Häcken:1.Christoffer Kallqvist;6.David Frolund;15.Kari Arkivno;4.Mohammed Ali Khan(c);12.Oscar Lewicki;5.Emil Wahlstrom;14.Martin Ericsson;18.Waris Majeed;17.Bjorn Anklev;9.Dioh Williams;24.Rene Makondele.

Subs:7.Jonas Bjurstrom;8.Josef Elvby(on for 24,86 mins);16.Tibor Joza; 19.Leonard Zuta;20.Dominic Chatto(on for 5,11 mins);26.Damir Mehic; 41.Nasiru Mohammed(on for 9,77 mins)

Yellow cards: Sjolund, Keene (DIF); Chatto (Häcken)

GALLERY:

Arriving at Stadion station by Tunnelbana

1912 Olympic poster

Pointing the way to Djurgården IF and the Stadion

Match Board

The entrance

The main stand and royal box