Stockholm Syndrome

Rarely can a major city have been divested of its three major stadia in a twelve month period. Here I appraise the three stadiums and look to the future for Stockholm football.

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Thursday November 22nd 2012 saw the gates close on the historic 75 year old Råsunda Stadion for the final time. A raucous and big crowd of 28,552 saw the final match which was a Europa League Group game against Napoli.

Rasunda Stadion (68)

The Råsunda was opened in April 1937 when AIK took on Malmö FF in the opening encounter. The stadium replaced a much smaller stadium on the same site that had been opened in 1910. The new ground was upgraded for the 1958 World Cup and its record attendance came in September 1965 when 52,943 watched Sweden take on West Germany.

Rasunda Stadion (89)

The capacity was reduced to 36,000 when it went all seater in the mid 1980’s and the old main stand was also replaced. The Råsunda also served as a host venue in the 1992 European Championships although the final was held at the Nya Ullevi in Gothenburg. The mid 90’s saw both ends replaced with some of the seats in the South Stand being acquired from the old Wembley Stadium. As the final whistle sounded against Napoli, cranes and diggers sat outside this lovely old stadium ready to pounce with seemingly indecent haste.

Rasunda Stadion (102)

From the new Allsvenskan season which started in April 2013, AIK have played at the new Friends Arena, their supporters having declined in a ballot to share the Stockholm Arena with Hammarby.

Work on the new Stockholm Arena (to be called the Tele 2 Arena) began in 2011 but progress has been relatively slow so Hammarby playing at the Söderstadion and Djurgården’s tenure at the legendary Stockholms Stadion have been extended to July 2013.

Stockholm Arena Nov 12 (2)

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The Söderstadion is the more modest of the three venues at a capacity of 16,197, but is famous for generating an incredible atmosphere. The current stadium was opened in 1966 on the site of an older stadium of the same name. The original Söderstadion itself was built on another former venue called the Johanneshovs Idrottsplats. The mainly wooden Söderstadion will be consigned to the history books when Hammarby move to the other side of the Globen Arena in July.

The Bajen will say goodbye to the Söderstadion on June 23rd against Ängelholm.

Hammarby IF - Soderstadion Nov 2012 (17)

Hammarby 059

Hammarby 056

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The future of football at Torben Grut’s iconic 1912 Olympic Stadium, known as the Stockholms Stadion, remains unclear. Djurgårdens IF will join their cross city rivals Hammarby at the Tele 2 Arena leaving the Stockholms without a resident club. While it does not have a huge capacity (these days 14,500) the Stadion is one of the most beautiful sporting venues in the world. Its carved wooden superstructure and tented royal box are beyond compare. Its record attendance for football came in august 1946 when 21,995 crammed in for the derby match between Djurgårdens and AIK. However, 13 years later 28,848 watched a bandy match in the arena. AIK called the Stockholms Stadion home before moving to the Råsunda in 1937, Djurgårdens moved into the venue from their previous ground at the Tranebergs Idrottsplats. While the Stockholms Stadion will of course remain as an athletics venue from July 2013 no football will be played there.

Djurgårdens play their last game at the Stockholms Stadion on June 30th against Öster.

Djurgarden IF (15)

Djurgarden - Stockholms Stadion (40)

Djurgarden IF (6)

(A version of this article first appeared in Groundtastic Magazine (Issue 72, Spring 2013)

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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