Friday 13th June 2014 ko 19.00
Division 4 Bohuslän/Dalsland
SKÄRHAMNS IK 2 (E Johannessen 17 79)
Entry 100 SEK (£8.88)
Hot Dog and Coffee- Comp
NB On the Swedish hop, the £270 cost covered entry to all games, programmes, coach travel and two nights Bed and Breakfast.
So, picture the scene, the 3 of us had arrived at Gothenburg coach station from Oslo, and were waiting for Kim Hedwall and the hop coach to arrive. Clearly there were no lack of coaches coming and going but which one was the one with Kim? The answer became obvious and I laughed out loud as the IFK Gothenburg team coach pulled in to a lay-by. From then on wherever we went people stopped and stared and in some cases even took photos. I tried not to imagine their disappointment when I exited…..
From there we decamped to our hotel for the weekend in the northern suburb of Backadal before heading still further north to the Bohuslän province and the largest island in the archipelago, Tjörn. That act of course required crossing a bridge, and what an edifice that turned out to be! The Tjörn Bridge, or in Swedish, Tjörnbron is a 664 m (2,178 ft), long suspension bridge built in 1981 after its predecessor, the Almö bridge was hit by the Norwegian bulk carrier MS Star Clipper a year earlier. The collision caused the middle of the bridge to collapse and 8 people died during the night as they drove over the edge until the road on the Tjörn side was closed 40 minutes after the accident.
The beauty of the new bridge for us on a warm evening was the viewing area on the mainland side, a good excuse to take pictures, and consider further the luxury we were travelling in. Suffice it to say if the people waving at us because of the coach’s decals could have seen the interior, their collective jaws would have dropped.
We drove over, then on to Tjörn and its capital Skärhamn, a pretty fishing town by an azure sea. It was obvious why the place is both the home to the Scandic watercolour museum, and massive tourist attraction too. We had time to grab an ice cream and stretch weary legs before heading over to the ground.
On an early Swedish Hop the first game and ground had been a frankly dull affair in the northern suburbs of Stockholm. It gave the hop no impetus whatsoever, and ever since the aim is to start with a bang, and this year’s opener certainly continued the trend of doing so.
The Tjörns Sparbanken Arena, or it you’d prefer the non-sponsored name Röavallen lies on the outskirts of town tucked neatly in the rocky outcrops. Our arrival caused a children’s training session to be abandoned as the participants thought they were about to meet their heroes, but once good order had been established we were welcomed by club officials to tell us more about their club, and politely enquire why on earth a group of British (and one German) tourists would be remotely interested in Swedish sixth division football club! If the club had known groundhopper mentality they’d have known straightaway, if the wooden stand wasn’t enough, the curious garden in one corner, and the backdrop as a whole sealed the deal for us.
The club have played as high as the 3rd tier Division One Södra, but financial problems, and let’s face it, simple geography saw the side slip down to Division 5 Bohuslän before returning to Division 4 for this season. The game saw the hosts take on a Stigen side riding on the crest of a slump with 8 straight defeats but curiously none of them had been by more than two goals. Those two facts were a good guide as the visitors passing was pleasing on the eye, but with absolutely no end product. They paid as they had done for the other 8 games as man-of-the-match Erik Johannessen capped a fine display with two goals, the first helped by a goalkeeping howler.
After the game we headed back to Gothenburg and as usual I listened to the coach party sat behind me. Usually you hear a happy hubbub of noise if everything’s in place. So when there was near silence I glanced back to understand why. Half the party were asleep, it was an early flight from Heathrow I suppose, and the other half were staring at the bucolic scenes as the sun set over the countryside. I allowed myself a grin and patted my mate Kim on the back, he’d picked an exceptional place to visit.