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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More Northern Skies

The days before and after any Swedish Groundhop offer a plethora of options for those wishing to extend there stay in this summer football season part of the world.

For the few that remained in Sweden Kim Hedwall organised a minibus to take in a couple of Monday matches on what was a National Day holiday in his homeland.

First up was a pit stop at Enköping to admire the modern and attractive stadium of the two local clubs. Enavallen hosts both Enköping SK, who were an Allsvenskan club as recently as 2003, and Enköping IS. The main stand is visually very pleasing and Kim has mooted this as a potential hop venue of the future.

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A few minutes later we arrive at fourth tier side Håbo FF and their Björkvallen ground is already teeming with people on this glorious afternoon. The Swedish national anthem is sung beautifully by a young lady before over 600 people watched the local side rattle in four hugely impressive first half goals. The visitors from IK Franke rallied briefly in the second half but a quick fire double from Håbo one of which saw the visiting keeper dismissed ensured the points were staying deservedly with the host club. Björkvallen is a relatively basic Idrottsplats style ground, the officials and visitors change in a building outside the ground for example, and these limitations could hamper the progress of this rapidly rising club.

Sweden Div. 2 Norra Svealand (06/06/2016)

Håbo FF 6 (Kristiansson 19, 29, 82, Aras 23, Danilo 32, Yilmaz pen 81)
IK Franke 2 (Applefeldt 51, pen 71)

Att: 615 (at Björkvallen)

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After heading south we arrive at the impressive Södertalje Futbollarena which plays host to two clubs with their roots firmly in the Assyrian community which first starting arriving in the city in 1967, fleeing from conflicts in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Over 40% of the cities’ population is from an immigrant background so it is no surprise that two clubs, Assyriska (1973) and Syrianska (1977) have flourished, the later enjoying three seasons in the Allsvenskan. The stadium was opened in 2005 and boasts one enormous stand with open terracing on the opposite side and a segregated section for away fans. This afternoon’s match is a Superettan game between Assyriska and GAIS from Gothenburg. A modest crowd gathers for this game and a well contested encounter is enjoyed by all especially when the hosts level with an injury time penalty when the GAIS captain inexplicably concedes an unnecessary foul.

Sweden Superettan (06/06/2016)

Assyriska FF 2 (Söderström 34, pen 90)
GAIS 2 (Singh 21, Moënza 63)

Att: 1,308 (at Södetalje Futbollarena)

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Tuesday evening sees a Tunnelbana ride east to the suburb of Hässelby where you will find Grimsta Idrottsplats home of IF Brommapojkarna, officially the world’s biggest football club! This claim is based on over 3,000 registered players for its 250 teams! The team have suffered a double relegation since the heady days of a return to Allsvenskan in 2012. Now in Division 1 Norra the team is coached by former Aston Villa legend Olof Mellberg. They sit top of the division and on tonight’s evidence of a totally dominant performance against Akropolis, few would seriously bet against a swift return to the Superettan. Grimsta was opened in 1963 and despite periodic refurbishment had always had just one stand running the length of one side of the pitch. Now though a new main stand is partially erected on the opposite side of the ground. Now looking like a proper stadium rather than an idrottsplats hopefully the investment will see BP return to the higher levels of the Swedish game.

Sweden Div.1 Norra (07/06/2016)

IF Brommapojkarna 3 (Brandeborn 32, 74, Gustafsson pen 90)
Akropolis IF 0

Att: 738 (Grimsta IP)

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The trip then heads to Finland and a much cooler Helsinki, draped in heavy cloud it’s not looking its finest when the top level Veikkausliiga runs a full midweek programme on Thursday evening. The game of choice is IFK Helsingfors against PK-35 Vantaa now managed by Shefki Kuqi. IFK, or Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna i Helsingfors, are an old club having been formed in 1897. Known by the nickname “Stadens stolthet” (The city’s pride) the club were originally solely patronised by the Swedish speaking middle classes while the Finns traditionally support their great rivals HJK. After seven Mestaruussarja titles IFK suffered severe financial problems in 2002 and had to take the place of their reserve team at level five. To their immense credit they have regrouped, opened a share issue for fans to invest, and have ultimately returned to the top flight after winning the Ykkönen Liga in 2014. IFK were playing at the Töölön Pallokenttä but following top flight promotion the club have groundshared with HJK at the 10,700 seater Sonera Stadium which is adjacent to the Olympic Stadium.

Tonight’s game, however, is a poor one for the hosts despite some great vocal backing from their supporters. Vantaa are two goals to the good, including one from the manager’s kid brother Njazi before IFK even muster a chance. The hosts pull one back in the second half but really look like a side who don’t believe they can score a second time.

Finland Veikkausliiga (09/06/2016)

IFK Helsingfors 1 (Salmikivi 53)
PK-35 Vantaa 2 (Kaufmann 12, Kuqi 41)

Att: 2,816 (at Sonera Stadion)

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Another day, another country and a ferry crossing the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn and two games in the murky nether regions of Estonian football.

The first game takes place in the 3G ground adjacent to the Kalevi Keskstaadion, home of Estonian Esiliiga (second tier) side JK Tallinna Kalev. It’s a fifth tier match tonight between Castovanni Eagles and JK Retro who are an interesting team almost entirely made up of ex Estonian internationals including 89 cap Andrei Stepanov who once played two minutes for Watford. They are managed by Erko Saviauk who himself won 60 caps and play purely for fun these days. This point is stretched as they start with ten men until 45 year old, 3 cap, Arvo Kraam arrived belatedly in a speeding taxi 25 minutes into the first half! With even numbers the ageing but more skilful veterans begin to outclass their younger, fitter opponents and eventually claim a deserved victory with a late winner.

Estonia III Liga (10/06/2016)

Tallinna Castovanni Eagles 1 (Naariste 66)
JK Retro 2 (Rist 60, Silkin 85)

Att: 9 (at Kalevi Keskstaadion Kunstmuruväljak)

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Saturday brings a 12pm kick off in the Wismari Staadion, a short walk past the magnificent Aleksandr Nevski cathedral. The Wismari is normally the home of JK Tallinna Legion, however, this match is between Tallinna Dünamo and Lokomotiv Jöhvi who have travelled some 100 miles for this fourth level match. The pitch is again 3G though the surface is in poor condition and the surroundings are vastly inferior to those of the previous evening. Lokomotiv are far too strong for the side from the capital and win easily, barely breaking sweat.

Estonia II Liga (11/06/2016)

Tallinna Dünamo 0
Lokomotiv Jöhvi 4 (Vender 36, Makarov 44, Smirnov 64, Bazjukin 68)

Att:41 (at Wismari Staadion)

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There you have it a thoroughly enjoyable extension to the annual pilgrimage to Sweden. Great part of the world to enjoy summer football on warm days!

Northern Skies (Swedish Groundhop 2016)

Twenty odd groundhoppers (as in about 20 as opposed to a comment on mental state or peculiarities) flew into Stockholm Arlanda airport for the tenth annual Swedish Groundhop organised as always by the legendary Kim Hedwall.

This hop for many has become a fine coda to the football season and by and large the glorious weather in the Stockholms region at this time of year has showcased this stunning region in all it majesty.

The bus whisked us towards the capital our first port of call was for a guided tour of Torben Grut’s iconic 1912 Olympic Stadium, until 2013 the home of Djurgårdens IF. Ground grading fripperies mean their Allsvenskan side now has to groundshare at Hammarby’s Tele2Arena. It is my third time at this quite magnificent arena, all carved wood and eye-catching detail, the only real concession to modernity being a large electronic scoreboard. We are guided by a club official called Pelle and he kindly invites us back to the Stockholms Stadion for Djurgårdens’ forthcoming friendlies against Kalmar and Groningen for which plastic tip up seats are not a mandatory requirement!

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After checking in at an old favourite for the hop, the Scandic Järva Krog we are taken to the nearby Ursviks Idrottsplats for the first game of the hop. Typical of its kind a 3G pitch, bleacher style stand and dressing room block. The officials are welcoming and coffee is provided while the team manager gives us a power point presentation on how he plans for his team to win this match. His homework paid dividends as Ursviks triumphed in an entertaining match with Martin Kullberg taking the plaudits with a well taken hat-trick.

Stockholms Div 4 Mellersta (03/06/2016)

Ursviks IK 4 (Kullberg 36, 73, 89, Papathanasiou 81)
Reymersholms IK 2 (Ryckert 54, Höjer 58)

Att: 75 (at Ursviks IP)

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The programme for Saturday has three matches on the agenda and the first is another short bus ride to Danderydsvallen and impressive sports complex where the clearly very proud club officials tell us of the history of the sports club, its ethos of using only local players, and answering our questions. They present us with scarves and other souvenirs and ask us to join in singing a traditional Swedish drinking song with a complementary beer and glass of local firewater.

It’s early and warm and sadly the home side seem a little dozy as their guests and league leaders Husby win far more comfortably than the final scoreline suggests.

Stockholms Div 4 Norra (04/06/2016)

Danderyds SK 2 (Issa 20, Pharmanson 90)
Husby FF 3 (Hien 8, 48, Tsegal 76)

Att: 57 (at Danderydsvallen)

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Next we move onto the swanky suburb of Djursholm wealthy enough to attract Björn Ulvaeus from Abba to its costly neighbourhood. Another welcome talk tells us that Djursholms priority is to produce young players and mould them into professional standard players and recoup coaching costs through Moderclub (“mother club”) which sees a percentage of future transfer fees going back to a players club of origin.

Today the first team, who are mainly aged 19 and under, have a task on their hands against the league leaders, IFK Österåker. The visitors duly flex their muscles and race into a 6-1 lead before the hosts stage a comeback which sadly they just run out of time to complete.

Stockholms Div 4 Norra (04/06/2016)

FC Djursholm 4 (Tollis 54, Linnér 83, Croon 85, 88)
IFK Österåker 6 (Sindemark 27, 35, Tuhcic 40, Sjöstrand 53, Musa 63, 66)

Att: 112 (at Djursholms IP)

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There is then a quick dash up to Uppsala for the Superettan match at the fabulous Studenternas IP, home of IK Sirius. If displays are to be believed around the stadium this venue is about to undergo serious redevelopment so it’s great to catch it in its original state. Studenternas has been home to Sirius since their formation in 1909. The bandy stadium next door is equally impressive. The hosts huff and puff their way to a valuable three points to send most of the modest crowd home happy after this televised match.

Superettan (04/06/2016)

IK Sirius FK 2 (Björkebaum 67, Bergman 79)
Trelleborgs FF 1 (Jovanović 30)

Att: 1,170 (at Studenternas IP)

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Sunday has a more sedate two game programme which commenced with a lengthy drive into the countryside to a village called Kårsta which has a population of around 500 people and whose tiny rail station marks the end of the line for the province of Stockholms Lan. After locating Kårevallen, a glorious oasis at the end of a dusty unmade road a huge voice booms a welcome through a loudhailer. The voice belonged to Staffan Hassius, president of GoIF Kåre and as soon as you heard his infectious Klopp like enthusiasm you just knew this was going to be fun. It seemed most of this tiny village had given up their Sunday morning to welcome their foreign guests. Staffan told us about the club and made us so welcome even hoisting a union jack above the clubhouse. None of us had been to a hop game where musical entertainment had been supplied with a male duo playing a mix of English and Swedish songs followed by a lady wearing odd shoes who played the euphonium beautifully. Kårevallen is one of those idyllic Swedish grounds set into the side of a rocky hill. Spectator accommodation provided by two handmade wooden bleachers and sustenance came courtesy of delicious reindeer kebabs.

The match itself was an attritional affair, Kåre needing a win to take over from Fanna at the top of the table. After much endeavour on a hot day a goal from Daniel Zachrison sealed a very popular home victory. Its clubs like GoIF Kåre, run solely by volunteers that make you realise this is where the true spirit of football lies not in the festering money ruined vortex of the Premier League. Someday more people will see the light.

Upplands Div 5 Södra (05/06/2016)

GoIF Kåre 1 (Zachrison 64)
Unik FK 0

Att: 126 (at Kårevallen)

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The bus wound its way to Rosersbergs a hefty goal kick away from Arlanda airport for the final match of the hop. The Råbergsvallen is bathed in glorious sunshine. Another warm welcome and some very tasty cake was enjoyed before a tense encounter between the hosts a Fanna ensues. Rosersbergs take a deserved lead when a penalty is awarded when a defender injudiciously clips a home forward in the area. Fanna look a good side but struggle to break down the hosts. That is until a free kick is awarded late on and Rami Abbas sneakily moves the ball back a couple of yards to allow him a chance to get the ball over the wall and down again. He duly accomplished this which was very harsh on Rosersbergs.

Upplands Div 5 Södra (05/06/2016)

Rosersbergs IK 1 (Lyngbrant pen 34)
Fanna BK 1 (Abbas 88)

Att: 121 (at Råbergsvallen)

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So the tenth anniversary Swedish groundhop, masterfully crafted by Kim Hedwall once again, ended all too soon for many though as usual some had decided to stay on just a little bit longer…

The Vertigo of Bis (Nyköping BIS)

Nyköpings BIS were formed in 1966 when two struggling clubs, Nyköpings SK and Nyköpings AIK pooled their resources. Since then the club have predominantly played in the third and fourth tiers of Swedish football, although the Bissarna enjoyed ten seasons, in two spells, playing in the second tier between 1971 and 1984. They are not related to IFK Nyköping who play at the truly wonderful Folkungavallen (http://wp.me/p2DKc8-8I) across town.

The club are in something of an vertiginous upward trajectory of late as they won Division 2 Södra Svealand in 2012, winning by a ten point margin from runners up Carlsbad United. The club were agonisingly close to making it two successive promotions when they finished a point adrift of the promotion play-off place in Division 1 Norra. The title was won by IK Sirius with the fast rising, predominantly Kurdish, Dalkurd FF taking the play-off spot.

The club play at a modest athletics stadium called the Rosvalla Idrottsplats which opened in 2003. It has one large stand on the east side and grass banking all the way around the remainder of the ground. Despite having a small band of ultras the club is not well supported and the official capacity of 1,000 is rarely tested. The stadium is part of a much larger sports centre which caters for skating, tennis and bowling and also has a multi-purpose hall which holds 5,500 people and currently plays host to Nyköping’s ice hockey team.

Nyköpings BIS are the most southerly club currently completing in the northern section of Division One. They have some hellishly long journeys to the likes of IFK Luleå and FC Umeå in the far north. Even today’s visitors, Skellefteå FF, have a 540 mile journey south to play this fixture. This season has not been so kind to the hosts and after sixteen rounds they lie tenth in the table (of 14 clubs) while the visitors are a place below having an inferior goal difference.

BIS take an early lead when a speculative shot from Gillström clips the inside of the post and finds the net. The killer blow came when the lively Eid scored an excellent second just as the half entered stoppage time. The hosts double the score in the second half and in truth should have had several more. This visiting keeper will have had better days and his side barely mustered a shot on goal during the whole game. Survival for them will be tough in the third tier.

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Sunday August 31st 2014 – Division 1 Norra

Nyköpings BIS 4 (Gillström 6,82, Eid 45, Djoković 61)
Skellefteå FF 0

Attendance: 326 (at Rosvalla)

BIS:

23. Anton Fagerström, 13. Lennart Johansson, 14. Simon Esséus, 3. Per Pettersson, 6. Ishmael Koroma, 25. Adis Djoković, 16. Yousef Yousef, 8. Suad Gruda, 22. Ethan Gage (c), 9. Andreas Gillström, 11. Mahmoud Eid.

Subs: 4. Emil Larnesjö (for 3,74mins), 19. Ludvig Hellman (for 22,71 mins), 20. Alen Ahmetović (for 11,79 mins), 26. Andreas Guillén, 24. Alexander Lind, 1. Pontus Lindh, 7. Sagvan Abdulsakar.

Skellefteå:

1. Frederik Enberg (c), 2. Daniel Söderström, 24. Linus Marklund, 5. Joakim Vikberg, 17. Alexander Brinkmann, 10. Jonas Desai, 7. Krister Andersson, 15. Robin Nilsson, 19. Patrik Broman, 45. Petter Thelin, 25. Chika Francis Ezeh.

Subs: 6. Kevin Forss-Nordlund (for 15,74 mins), 9. Andreas Bergström (for 7,61 mins), 18. Yosif Ayuba (for 10,65 mins), 22. Alexander Sorgić, 31. Johan Sjöberg.

Yellow cards: Gruda (BIS); Marklund, Ezeh, Ayuba, Forss-Nordlund (Skellefteå)

Gallery

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The Rosvalla features a giants’ lost front door key. No reason.

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BIS Prog

Summer Night City

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.

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Skärhamns IK 2 Stigen/Ellenö 0
Att: 76 (Div 4 Bohuslän/Dalsland)

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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.

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Västra Frölunda IF 2 Laholms FK 2
Att: 95 (Div 3 Sydvästra Götaland)

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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.

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Qviding FIF 1 Örgryte IS 1
Att: 1,275 (Div.1 Södra)

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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.

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Vänersborgs IF “B” 2 Alingsås IF “B” 2

Att: 33 (Utveckling Elit Div 2 Västra)

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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.

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Trollhättans BoIS 5 FC Lidköping United 4

Att: 92 (Division 5 Nord Västra Götaland)

TrollhättansBoIS

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.

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FC Trollhättan 4 Kristianstads FF 1

Att: 434 (Div.1 Södra)

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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.

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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!

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Voulez-Vous?

Sweden has become a favoured haunt of mine in the last few years, ostensibly the excellent Swedish Groundhops and some independent trips have made the northern kingdom a place I love to return to.

This year’s hop takes in the central province of Uppland and means flying into the behemoth that is Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. Now promoting itself as the “official” airport of the new ABBA museum, it is interesting to note that the global phenomenon of ABBA has now belatedly been recognised in their homeland.

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Månkarbo IF 4 Karlholms GOIF 0 (Division 5 Norra Uppland)

Attendance: 176 (at Tallparken)

Mankarbo

A quick punt up the motorway sees the merry band gather at the small village of Månkarbo for game one of this year’s festivities. The village numbers a mere 660 inhabitants most of them turn up to the photogenic Tallparken to see the game, a live band in the clubhouse and to look at the odd band of British travellers pitching up in their little village.

Mankarbo (10)

Publicity for the eccentric British travellers has gathered momentum in recent years. Only last year we were followed by Offside magazine, the Swedish equivalent of 4-4-2, who managed to pack thirteen pages of their weighty tome to the why’s and wherefore’s of this quirky activity. This year Swedish television gets into the gathering and films organisers Kim Hedwall and Laurence Reade plus the irrepressible tour-de-force that is the legendary Martin Bamforth to explain this curious pilgrimage to a welcoming and intrigued nation.

Mankarbo (25)

Månkarbo’s welcome is first class, a tasty snack and a beer are awaiting us and we are deluged with gifts including shirts and badges. As the game ends in a comfortable 4-0 win for the home side against their mortal enemies Karlsholms, a rock covers band “Just Got Paid” strike up to ensure the villagers enjoy this evening out together into the small hours.

Mankarbo (40)

Storviks AIF 4 Lingbo IF 1 (Division 6 Norra Gästrikland)

Attendance: 41 (at Sports Centrum)

Storviks

Saturday brings disastrous news for any groundhop organiser, the visiting team for the first game cannot raise a side, even though the season is only half a dozen games old. There is great sympathy for Gävle GIK, the hosts, whose efforts are in vain. The quick thinking and knowledgeable Kim Hedwall goes into overdrive and is determined to pull a rabbit out of his hat with next to no margin for error.

Storviks (17)

The beneficiaries are Storviks AIF a new offshoot of the existing Storviks IF club. The coach rounds a corner and a collective sigh of relief confirms Kim has sorted out a more than adequate replacement. The hosts have hurriedly cobbled together a programme and some coffee and cakes for their unexpected guests. Their hospitality is greatly appreciated and the match is viewed from a steep bank in warm sunshine. Storviks’ hospitality doesn’t extend to their opponents Lingbo, however, as the new boys give the visitors a master class in finishing and win 4-1.

Storviks (21)

Hille IF 1 Söderhamns FF 0 (Division 3 Sodra Norrland)

Attendance: 231 (at Hille IP)

Hille IF

Next stop is the sundrenched Hille Idrottsplats for a top of the table clash.

Hille IF (6)

Another warm welcome, coffee, cakes and gifts as well as informative talk from a rightly proud chairman. It’s a tense affair which the homesters win by a solitary goal.

Hille IF (1)

The ground has traditional bleacher style seating and the game is very well attended. The kiosk selling cold drinks and ice cream does a roaring trade as the crowd swelters in searing heat.

Hille IF (25)

Strömsbergs IF 2 Skellefteå FF 0 (Division 2 Norrland)

Attendance: 235 (at Strömsbergs IP Heden)

Stromsbergs IF

The third game of the day is literally in the middle of nowhere at Strömsbergs IF. In a move akin to Bishops Stortford’s enforced placement in the Conference North, the hosts have found themselves launched into the north division of Division Two (fourth tier).

Stromsbergs IF (6)

Opponents Skellefteå are over 400 miles away and have taken eight hours to drive to the ground. To say the hosts are unhappy with their journeys is an understatement. The ground is a bit of beauty, an extraordinary clubhouse, circular in shape for dancing from the adjacent bandstand, is a real treasure and also has a timeline exhibition celebrating the club’s centenary.

Stromsbergs IF (10)

The game is turned on a debatable penalty decision and the home side overcome their understandably lethargic visitors.

Stromsbergs IF (20)

Saturday night concludes with a hunt for food in a strangely quiet Uppsala Gamla Stan. The highlight of the bus ride back to the hotel is an elderly local couple spotting Martin Bamforth as an inadvertent star of the previous night’s news programme on television.

Sunday sees a drive back to Stockholm for a game at multi pitch Skytteholms. With time on our side for once, some take the option to look at the part demolished old national stadium, the Råsunda, over the road. I find the scenes of devastation quite harrowing, one of FIFA’s official iconic football grounds looks more like a warzone. The need to finance the new Friends Arena is undoubted but what a price to pay for it.

Rasunda demolition (4)

Athletic FC 0 Tyresö FF 4 (Division 3 Sodra Svealand)

Attendance: 67 (at Skytteholm IP)

Skytteholm is principally the home to Vasalunds IF who have in the recent past had a brief flirtation with the second tier of Swedish football, the Superettan.

Athletic FC - Skytteholms

The 4G pitch, however, with its astonishingly tall floodlights, is used morning, noon and night by a number of clubs and also AIK’s youth teams.

Athletic FC - Skytteholms (5)

This morning it’s Third Division Athletic FC, a team from Stockholm’s ever burgeoning émigré populace that are playing host to footballing travellers of a different sort.

Athletic FC - Skytteholms (2)

They are no match for their opponents however, as after the sides swap red cards, Tyresö rattle in four goals without reply. Their eye catching young forward “Roy” plays under the Swedish equivalent of “A.N.Other” which is the rather marvellous “Personuppgifter Skyddade”

IFK Österåker 0 BKV Norrtälje 2 (Division 3 Ostra)

Attendance: 145 (at Åkersberga IP)

Osteraker

A quick sprint over to Åkersberga, familiar from a visit to the town’s other ground in 2011, sees the party arrive at IFK Österåker.

Osteraker (19)

Yet another cordial welcome and a definite winner in the gift bag stakes (the socks will come in handy next winter), and we are ready for another top of the table clash. The visitors are hot favourites for the title and have brought some supporters with them, including an ageing pair of flag waving “ultras”!

Osteraker (17)

The home side wilt in the heat and the lovely old manual scoreboard records, in the end, a comfortable away win.

Osteraker (26)

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Bele Barkarby IF 3 Tåby IS 1 (Division 3 Norra Svealand)

Attendance: 82 (at Veddestavallen)

Bele Barkaby IF

The final game is at the curiously named Bele Barkarby. It’s a busy scene that greats us as multiple teams and age groups use the facilities. The Veddestavallen is not a photographers dream being situated in an industrial area and the undulating pitch is the talk of the pre match build up.

Bele Barkaby IF (11)

The hosts go to town providing us with glossy reading material and they are clearly proud of their self funded progress. The game is a curious event, a goalless and tight first half is the antithesis of the second, when the hosts rattle in three quick goals to put the result beyond any doubt.

Bele Barkaby IF (3)

The game finishes in comfortable time to get back to the airport and the seventh annual Swedish Groundhop is done. As usual the event was superbly organised and hugely enjoyable. Voulez-Vous same time next year? Uh huh. Well would be rude not to….

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The Folkungavallen (IFK Nyköping)

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)

Gallery

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