Alingsas IF FF, ice creams, Kim Hedwall, reserve game, Sweden, Swedish Groundhop, Vanersborgs IF
Sunday 15th June 2014 ko 11.00
Utveckling Elit Division 2 Västra Götaland
VÄNERSBORGS I.F. 2 (Hellqvist 35 Kriezu 79)
ALINGSÅS I.F. F.F. 2 (Wahlin 27 Rusid 82)
It had been a distinctly non-standard Saturday evening on the Swedish Hop. The tradition is for the veterans to take organiser Kim Hedwall out for a meal, but he’d rather trumped that idea, by organising a hot buffet at the hotel, a real bargain at £15 a head. In fact the only issue was that there wasn’t a dessert available, so half an hour after the event there was a short queue at the petrol station next door for ice creams, and we sat in the hotel’s veranda exchanging silly stories. You can take the hopper out of England…..
When we advertised this hop, this fixture wasn’t included, it wasn’t even thought of. But when one of the tour party spotted it 20 pairs of ears pricked up! No groundhop organiser would include a reserve game in a schedule, the idea is just too unpopular; by and large the reserves and hoppers don’t mix. This fixture should irk the purist even more, some would watch the reserve side as the away side in a first XI fixture, but Utveckling means development, so this was two reserve teams in a reserve league.
But coach driver Ebbe was happy to arrive earlier, Kim was happy, and there wasn’t a single dissenting voice on the coach. Even the hopper who’d set his alarm for 12 to watch the England vs Italy World Cup game was happy and awake, although that may have had something to do with him setting the alarm for 12 PM…. So a bonus, and Kim phoned ahead to check the game was on and found a club delighted to see us, and stunned, as the manager put it when he did an impromptu talk on the club at half time,
“You guys have coming all this way to see our reserves…. thanks…..****ing unbelievable!”
That feeling of amazement was also felt by the visitors, who tweeted as follows,
Roughly translated it means, “Development team match away against Vänersborgs IF attracts 20 English football geeks who are in Sweden to watch football.” That’s not an inaccurate description!
Vänesborgs IF was formed in 1906 and the first XI plays at Division 3 level. They are no strangers to English visitors, the likes of Birmingham City and QPR having toured here. Former Birmingham forward Bobby Bennett, and Stockport’s Andy Kilner have played for the club too. Vänersborg sits on the southern shores of Lake Vanern and its where the river Göta älv leaves Sweden’s largest water mass, and its importance grew with the construction of the Trollhätte Canal in 1800 allowing freight to be transported all the way to the sea. Nowadays the canal forms part of the Göta canal running for some 382 miles (614 km), linking a number of lakes and rivers to provide a route from Gothenburg on the west coast to Söderköping on the Baltic Sea.
The atmosphere amongst the party was relaxed, ice creams were bought from the ten-pin bowling alley, slightly assuaging the manager there, who really didn’t like us walking through as a short-cut to the football. And, the stand at Vänesvallen didn’t half help the mood, as one of our number laughed,
“I wonder if over here they hanker after a nice Atcost stand…”
And the curved, heated, stretched wooden roof would have been enough to provide both shelter, and keep the architecture student happy on another sunny day, but, and look away now purists, it was a darned good game to watch. Two well matched sides, with the added bonus of Vänersborg’s Alexander Mayborn. He’s a star for them at Bandy during the winter in Sweden’s top flight Elitserien, but plays football during the summer to maintain his fitness, his powerful build providing a real contrast with his teammates.
He played well, perhaps there’s more similarities to the two games than I thought! Both teams led, and I refuse to believe that if you hadn’t have known it was a reserve game in advantage you’d have realised. The draw was a fair result, and so we made our thanks to a still amazed club management, before the coach traced the line of the canal south to Trollhätten. It was time to get back on piste.