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Saturday 6th June 2015 ko 16.00

Division 3 Östra Svealand

MÄRSTA IK 3 (Samura 16 Altumer 34 Tsakle 87og)

JUVENTUS IF 2 (Muqdisi 62 69)

Att 107

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.

Entry & Programme 40 sek

In many respects this game would have been perfect as the final game of the hop 24 hours later, Märsta (pronounced mosh-ta) is at the edge of Stockholm’s northernmost suburbs, and is close to Arlanda airport. As such its a typical dormitory suburb, with the fields gradually giving way to houses, then the churches and the schools. At the centre of it all is the Pendeltåg or commuter train station to central Stockholm. The town does have the distinction of being where the first telegraph pole in Sweden was erected.

In some respects Midgårdsvallen is a typical Swedish idrottsplats, or all-sports facility with its municipal feels and athletics track. However in equally typically Swedish style there’s far more to the place than meets the eye, for example how many stadia have a name that translates as ” Middle Earth Valley?” There’s a second artificial football pitch next door to the main stadium, and beyond that an American football facility. To everyone’s surprise a cricket match was taking place on a purpose-built ground just outside the main entrance.

The main stadium was easily the best appointed of the 5 on this year’s Swedish Hop. It was built in 2005 with an overall capacity of 2,400. The main stand holds 400 seats, making the stadium compliant for Superettan football, and a simple floodlight upgrade would make it good enough for the Allsvenskan.

Not that the ground has come close to those levels, the former anchor tenant here was Valsta Syrianska who played as high as Division One Norra, but were bankrupted at the end of last season. Oddly they once attracted a crowd of 3,125 here in 2008 for a Svenska Cupen quarter-final loss 4-0 to Hammarby!

Märsta have called this place home since 2006. They were formed in 1927 starting life as a cycling club, but in Scandinavian style added cross-country skiing, bandy, ice hockey, handball and yes, football over the years before becoming a purely footballing club in the 60’s. This is their third home, and were rather proud to have Tottenham Hotspur visit them for a friendly at their second home Ärlingeheden, in 1987, the hosts losing 5-0.

On the day of the Champions League finale the delicious coincidence of seeing a side named after one of the finalists amused, but the likeness was only skin-deep. Other than playing in Palermo-style pink, they had few Italians in their line-up, but in one respect they did emulate their namesakes- they lost.

Märsta moved the ball far more effectively and at half-time 2-0 was a fair reflection on play. Two quick goals from Menmal Muqdasi brought Juventus level, but when Abednego Tsakle turned a left wing cross into his own net, it was cruel on him, but justice on the balance of play.