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Friday 3rd June 2016 ko 19.00

Division 4 Mellersta Stockholm

URSVIK IK 4 (Kullberg 36 74 89 Papathanasiou 81)

REYMERSHOLMS IK 2 (Rykelt 53 Engström 58)

Att 75

Back in 2007 if you had have suggested to either organiser Kim Hedwall or I that in 9 years’ time we’d be sat on a coach to Arlanda airport to do the pick-ups for the tenth Swedish Hop we’d have laughed at you. In fact we’d have probably only just stopped laughing now! For the most part the Swedish Hop has made copious use of Kim’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Swedish non-league scene, to the extent that on at least one occasion – Strömsbergs– its taken me some time to work out exactly where I was!

The upside of that is that we’ve discovered places that hitherto may well had never seen a foreign visitor; who could forget Skärhamn or Västra Frölunda for example? The downside is that we’ve seldom included clubs that would attract more than the 20-or-so hoppers that have made up the numbers in recent years. Sweden isn’t a cheap country, but Kim and I have long since agreed that this hop should be about the hidden little gems as you can easily visit the likes of A.I.K. or Djurgården under your own steam. Still, perhaps the view to take is that small is beautiful!

The issue we had is that as we would be based in Ulriksdal, in Stockholm’s northern suburbs, close to the birthplace of Ulrika Jonsson in Sollentuna, we’d have quite a bit of time to kill before our hotel rooms were available. I’d suggested to Kim a stadium tour of the Friends Arena, Sweden’s national stadium as it is close to Ulriksdal. That wasn’t possible due to preparations for the Sweden vs Wales game on the Sunday, but Kim came up with a better idea, a trip round Stockholms Stadion.

The stadium built for the 1912 Olympics was the first Olympic stadium to be built as a permanent structure. After the games AIK moved in and stayed until the Råsunda Stadion was built in 1937. However the stadium will forever be associated with Djurgården who moved in when AIK left and played here until 2013 when Allsvenskan rules precluded further games here, due to its low capacity and safety concerns. I was fortunate to visit here for a game in 2008, here’s what it was like then.

Djurgården still have their offices in one of the towers and we were fortunate enough to get a guided tour, including the boardroom. The club are playing two friendlies back here in July and the club were most helpful in getting tickets for those in our party intending to go.

After settling into our hotel it was little more than a 5 minute drive to Ursvik Idrottsplats. It isn’t one of the prettiest places we’ve visited but it was interesting, and it does take the meaning of Idrottsplats, an all-sports facility fairly literally. Behind the football pitch there’s a cross-country running circuit which I’m sure doubles as a cross-country skiing course in winter, but more than anything else the club were a joy to spend time with.

There was a pennant for everyone in the party and the typically Swedish coffee that instantly staved off the tiredness- most of our party had been awake since the early hours. A measure of how experienced some us us were in matters Swedish that some immediately bought a small cake for 10 sek (around 85p) to complete the Swedish tradition of “Fika” even if our timing may have been a little awry!

We were given a talk by the club officials on the rather details that they’d be using against their visitors from Reymerholms who in a delicious coincidence play their home games at Zinkensdamm IP, which the Swedish Hop visited in the very first hop!

We were treated to an excellent match, 3G has its detractors but here it helped two good sides pass and move and chief beneficiary was Ursvik’s Martin Kullberg who helped himself to a beautifully taken hat trick.

It was most convivial evening which soon was transported on to the hotel bar. The great advantage of our location was that nowhere on our itinerary was a long way away, and there was a surprisingly good selection of craft beers to try. Actually, now I think about it, that happened back in 2007 didn’t it?