Friday5th June 2015 ko 19.00
Division 6 Norra Uppland
FILMS SK 1 (Wallmo 37)
FC BÃLINGE CITY 2 (Freij 24 Jansson 76)
NB The Swedish hop’s cost of £280 included all entry fees, programmes, two nights bed and breakfast, and coach travel between the games and Arlanda airport.
Kim Hedwall has been running the Swedish hop since 2007, and this first game on the 9th hop was our 50th game at our 48th ground. In those years we’ve been rained on, two of the party have been roped in as linesmen, and we’ve appeared on Swedish national TV and “Offside” magazine, the Swedish equivalent of “4-4-2.” We’ve never taken a party of more than 30, due in part to a misunderstanding about what the event is for.
The first few hops saw a base in Stockholm with us concentrating on the lesser known grounds in the area, but there were requests to include higher grade games. We pondered it, and in 2011 we included games at Superettan Hammarby’s former home, Söderstadion, and Allsvenskan Norrkoping’s Nya Parken, and followed it up the next year with another Superettan ground, Degerfors’ Storra Valla. The latter was highly enjoyable, the others less so, and Kim and I found a highly ironic place to decide on the future direction of the event.
We were invited as guests of Ricoh Sweden to attend the opening game at the Friends Arena and before Zlatan Ibrahimovic destroyed England we sat at Ricoh HQ enjoying a complementary pre-match meal. We decided that including professional clubs wasn’t what we wanted the Swedish hop to be about. It isn’t difficult to visit these grounds independently, many on this year’s hop visited Brommapojkarna, AIK, and Djurgården in the 3 days before this. When we included the bigger clubs we saw no increase in attendance, and gained no added value from the clubs. A lot of the fun of the hop has been visiting clubs who haven’t quite believed that a British football fan would be remotely interested in watching a tiny Swedish club, and enjoying the officials tell us all about their club.
On a more general level, a hopper on this years’ event commented,
“Would (organiser) Rob Hornby put Notts County on the Notts Hop?”
Of course not, as that isn’t what a hop is for.
So over the years the Swedish hop has been the chance to visit the little undiscovered (to foreign eyes at least) gems of Swedish football, taking full advantage of Kim’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Swedish football. And if you want proof positive of that decision just look at Björkparken, home of Films SK.
We were based in the Viking-founded city of Uppsala, around an hour north of Stockholm and we stuck out north-east to the small town of Österbybruk. Its a town built on the production of iron, much of which ended up in the UK in the production of blister steel. You wouldn’t associate heavy industry with this bucolic area, this is an area where you take in the trees, and enjoying the birdsong. In short it is exactly the place the Swedish hop specialises in.
The village of Film lies just north of Österbybruk, and sits near to Lake Filmsjön. Its named after a Viking king, and the ground is named Bjork or “Birch” after the trees that used to line the perimeter. It is, by anyone’s standards, a beautiful place, and the fulsome welcome was appreciated, but for many there, who’d spent much of the day sat in either a plane, a coach or both, it was a good excuse to stretch their legs and explore.
There was the barn-style stage and seating behold the clubhouse, a version we’d seen at Strömsberg 2 years ago. There was the liquorice ice creams to be sampled but the pre-match highlight was the bathroom wall, tiled in the club badge.
Film on the playing side are at a low ebb, they’ve played in Division 3 and are rather proud of running Jv Torremolinos close in a friendly whilst touring Spain in 1971. In all Swedish hop games where we meet club officials I do wonder what they think we’re doing, but in this case I did wonder whether they thought their past success had something to do with it.
Unfortunately we couldn’t bring them a little luck. It was one of those games that any result could have occurred, but the visitors prevailed courtesy of Marcus Jansson’s late strike. For the British there though there was more to it than just football, it was the chance to catch up, and enjoy another generous slice of beautiful Sweden. Who needs the bright lights anyway?