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Sunday 2nd June 2013 ko 14.00

Division 3 Östra Svealand


BKV NORRTÅLJE 2 (Kiianlinna 55 Thorliefsson 63)

Att 145

Entry, Programme, Coffee, and Goody Bag – Included in hop

The Swedish Groundhop has plenty of history with the municipality of Åkersberga. The area of Stockholm county has seen us visit Rydbo, Roslagskulla, Vaxholm and perhaps most famously two visits to Åkersberga BK. Its a pleasant place on the Stockholm archipelago, and features several golf courses, and facilities for boating, equestrianism, fishing and other outbound activities. The area is linked to metropolitan Stockholm by the narrow-gauge, 891 mm (2 ft 11 110 in) Roslagsbanan railway. The 40 mile, 38 station system is the last narrow gauge railway in Sweden still in use for commercial traffic. Now I know my SL card is valid on it, I think I may have to give it a ride!

We’d watched Österåker as the away side at Sundbyberg on the 2009 hop when it rained virtually on every minute of the weekend! As we pulled into Åkersberga Idrottsplats I pondered the vagaries of the weather. Its was sweltering, and there was little or no shelter from the sun. Not wonderful and I was already sunburnt despite the cover at Skytteholms. Perhaps its an Åkersberga thing, both games at the Margretelunds BP home of Åkersberga BK were warm and sunny and its where on the second visit, I ended up as linesmen after the away team objected to the choice of club linesman. I remember remarking that I was beyond being corrupted as I didn’t speak the language! I suspect that incident would have been completely forgotton, but a football magazine called “Offside” were in tow for that hop, and the 13 page article included yours truly in action.

We were given a talk by a club official before the game, and there was more to the club than just the 3G pitch with the ubiquitous wooden bleachers. They used to play on the rather prettier grass pitch behind the clubhouse but were forced to move around 100m when it was discovered that the pitch was a metre or two too narrow and too short. It gave head organiser Kim Hedwall a bonus tick, which was just reward for bringing us to a game with a real edge to it.

Norrtäljie were top of the table and looked good for a promotion tilt. Österåker were third, and with what they believe is a team capable of promotion too. They have an interesting player in Armin Iranpak, whose father Safar Iranpak was a striker who played for Persepolis and the Iran national football team, before settling in Stockholm later on in life. He died in 2009.

It soon became clear that despite an obvious rivalry, the visitors were just that little bit sharper than the hosts. They’d brought a following too, including two elderly ultras brandishing a flag, and it added to a convivial atmosphere just after Sunday lunch. My problem was that it was a little too warm to watch, let alone play, and after so much football by half time I was beginning to flag a little. Salvation, however was at hand.

During the interval I bought a can of drink and an ice cream and sat myself down on the base of a floodlight when I became aware of a commotion at the bleachers. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but everyone seemed to be pointing in my direction. The root of it all was Elisabeth and Per Soderström from Åkersberga BK. They’d spotted from a Facebook post that I was local to them so decided to jump in the car and pay me a visit! The trouble is that they couldn’t spot me, so ended up trying to find the English who would point them in the right direction! Still they found me, and a week after the event I’m still touched, thank you so much, both of you!

It didn’t end there either, during the second half a player’s mother came up to me, and asked whether I was the bloke who once was linesman at an Åkersberga game? I turned out her son had played in that game and was highly amused when I commented that I’d send a player off for wearing pink boots. I don’t remember the comment, but it does seem true to form!

The game went the way of the form book, the visitors eventually finding two ways through the home defence. The second goal killed off home resistance, and one of our party was slightly chastised for helping our with the scoreboard when it hadn’t been immediately updated.

I felt for Österåker, even though the result was a fair one, as they were fine hosts. Mind you as the Soderströms proved, when you’re in Åkersberga, you are assured of a wonderful welcome. Another UK coach party now knows that now.