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Sunday 10th June 2012 ko 17.00

Division 5 Svart Sörmland

IFK NYKÖPING 1 (Abdulsatar 77)

VALLA IF 2 (Nilsson 59 L Larsson 90)

Att 55

Entry, Programme, Yearbook, and meal- Hop Ticket

Coffee 10 sek

Pennant 20 sek

The final game of the Swedish hop saw something of a homecoming for the 6 of us that were on the very first trip back in 2007. Back then, we’d landed early at Skavsta and stayed in the pretty town of Nyköping. We’d arrived too early to be allowed into our hotel rooms so went for a stroll and discovered Folkungavallen. We’d also discovered that IFK were at home that Friday, and were sorely tempted to stay and ditch a trip to Nyköping BIS. I’m glad we didn’t for many reasons, but Kim and I were keen to take the hop here ever since.

But why? Have a look at pictures! A wonderful gatehouse and a pretty as a picture wooden stand. Is that not enough? What made it special for Kim and I was watching the other hoppers jaws drop as we arrived, then started to explore.

The stadium was originally built for an agricultural fair in 1914. After the show, it was decided that the facility would be converted to sports use. By 1919 the conversion was complete, but the ground wasn’t officially inaugurated until 1921. The ground was only renamed Folkungavallen in 1925, after a poll in the local newspaper. From my perspective, it was the fact that it doesn’t seemed to have changed much since then, that makes it what it is. On one hand a relic, on the other something of real beauty.

We were welcomed by the ebullient figure of club President Veronica, and were invited for a meal of pickled herrings, potatoes and light beer at half time. Did this make us the Swedish equivalent of the Prawn sandwich brigade? It didn’t feel like it, as this was a friendly, down to earth club struggling at the bottom of the table, but who made some tired hoppers extremely welcome.

A word about that league and division. There are 2 division 5’s in the area, and unusually the authorities have not gone for a geographical split. They’ve gone for “Black” (Svart) and “Blue” (Blå), strange but it seems to work for the local FA!

Sadly, what it didn’t give us was an exciting game. The heavens opened and it appeared to drown any goalscoring ambition. It was clear that the hosts would willingly take a point, so Nicklas Nilsson’s goal for Valla looked to open things up a little. That it did, until Sardast Abdulsatar scrambled an equaliser for Nyköping, and at looked to be the final score until Lars Larsson tucked home the winner for Valla with just seconds remaining. Harsh on Nyköping, but things like this happen when you’re occupying one of two relegation spots. The other, by the way is held by the other club that plays at Folkungavallen- Harg.

That was the last game of this year’s Swedish hop, and a little run of 20 non-UK games for me! There was barely enough time to do the final bits of housekeeping on the short drive to Skavsta airport, and in no time we were flying back to Stansted.

I’d like to thank firstly Kim Hedwall for organising the whole thing. Put simply, no Kim, no hop. Secondly Thomas Nybom, our driver, and often the voice of sanity. Every hop needs a great coach driver, and Thomas is a gem. Lastly, I’d like to thank everybody who supported the hop in its 6th year; I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did!

If reading these reports tempts you into attending next year, we’ll be advertising the 2013 hop around April. Normally that’s in the “Football Traveller”, and ” Non League Digest” together with various Facebook pages and Twitter.