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Saturday 4th June 2016 ko 12.00

Division 4 Norra Stockholm

DANDERYDS SK 2 (Issa 20 Pharmasson 90)

HUSBY FF 3 (Hien 8 47 Tsegai 75)

Att 63

It was one of those morning starts that was dictated more by when the hotel stopped serving breakfasts than what time our coach needed to leave Ulriksdal. You even could see a road sign for Danderyds sjukhus (hospital) from our hotel. It meant a relaxed breakfast with the inevitable crispy bacon, grilled frankfurteresque sausages, and for the more adventurous- pickled herrings!

We set off north-east, on a well trodden path, mirroring the Roslagsbanen narrow-gauge railway. There have been no lack of Swedish Hop games in the 65km, 38 station railway’s catchment area, such as Viggbyholm and Österåker, and I suspect the main reason is because Sweden’s only remaining commercial narrow-gauge railway runs through some enchanting countryside. And when Kim Hedwall’s principle motivation for running the 10 Swedish hops is to show off the best of his country his reasoning becomes clear.

Danderyd is reckoned to have the highest average taxed income per capita in Sweden. These days the area’s most famous former resident is Princess Sophia of Sweden, Duchess of Värmland, who caused a stir when she married Prince Carl Philip, the second child of King Carl XVI Gustaf. More conservative elements of Swedish high society objected to the then Sophia Hellqvist’s previous career as a glamour model, including the “Accolade” of “Miss Slitz 2004.” The magazine which closed in 2012 was nowhere as a racy as the name might suggest!

We received a warm welcome at Danderydsvallen. The facility is set up for all-year use with an ice rink as well as a 7-a-side 3G pitch. The club officials took the time to tell us about the history of their club, and how they see themselves as being by and for their area. They accept that as such as they unearth a promising player, they’ll lose them to a club of higher status, and have done so, to both Allsvenskan and Superettan clubs. We were given a beer, a shot of vodka and a scarf apiece which was much appreciated, but why it always a blazing hot day whenever we are given a scarf? Many remember sweltering wearing a Qviding scarf a couple of years’ ago!

It certainly was warm, so warm the beach volleyball court was being used as a beach! Our hosts thought they’d have their work cut out against a well-resourced and well-backed Husby team. Sadly, that fear was well-founded as Husby were deserved winners just having that little extra where it mattered.

We clambered back on the coach and Kim chivied me slightly as I glanced back at the friendly club. It took a minute for me to realise why I’d stopped for a second; it was because once again Kim had managed to distill the Swedish Hop’s essence into one club and ground. Small, pretty, and friendly and the kind of place that really appreciates having foreign visitors. We were to see the converse of that later that day.