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Sunday 4th June 2017 ko 15.00

Division 5 Sydvästra Skåne

VELLINGE I.F. 7 (Marius Hansson 22 47 C Wreme 34 60 Kruse 43 Lindell 74 Krönström 90)

HUSIE F.F. 1 (Johannsson 66)

Att 68

Entry 40 sek

We began to make our way back to the Øresund Bridge and our flights from Kastrup airport. The 11th Swedish Hop’s final stop was Vellinge, whose claim to fame seems to be that it was once voted Sweden’s second best place to live, history doesn’t record who won though! The other thing Vellinge is famous for is it’s 40 metres tall, 400 million litre vatterntorn, or water tower. And if you weren’t completely au fait with what a huge concrete funnel is for, the clever Swedes have painted the thing in blue stripes!

The tower acts as a guide to any first-time visitor to Vellinge Idrottsplats, and after parking up at it’s base we dashed through the rain (oh the irony) to the clubhouse, and here was the hop’s final surprise, the talk on the club was given by Mayor Torbjörn, how many mayors have been at 4 out of 6 hop games?

It turned out he used to be on committee here, his mayoral duties no doubt pulling him away from volunteer work. He did have one story to tell, albeit one with a rueful smile. Vellinge I.F. date from 1928 but a few years ago Torbjörn suggested that the club needed a feeder team so Vellinge F.F. were formed. F.F. now play in the same division as I.F. ; all rather awkward.

Now hop organiser Kim Hedwall will never admit to this, but he’d so obviously got the clubs primed that English hoppers love matchday programmes, so much so that everyone’s hop folder had a space for them. It was disappointing for Kim that Vellinge F.F. were the only club that didn’t print, and that went double for Torbjörn. Words were exchanged away from British eyes and teamsheets were quickly distributed with sticker sheets and a pennant each. On one hand, I don’t think there was anyone there who would place a matchday magazine as more important than the game, but it left noone in any doubt what levels Kim, Torbjörn and the Trelleborg tourist board had gone to to make the hop perfect.

The spicy hot dogs sold well, and there were no end of suitable places to shelter from the rain, especially when Torbjörn got the scorer’s hut unlocked for us. Yes, it’s juvenile but I did enjoy operating the scoreboard! And I did get plenty of opportunities to practice my scoreboard operating technique as Vellinge I.F. put their opponents from adjacent to Kvarnby to the sword.

With some flights leaving Copenhagen early we had to make a quick dash after the game. Nevertheless there was the odd situation of the mayor of Trelleborg and Christian and Ditte from the tourist board thanking us for visiting, when it was their kindness that helped make this one of the best Swedish hops of its 10 year history. We all felt we should be thanking them!!

Now you may look through the six clubs on the 2017 hop and think there wasn’t a truly mind-blowing ground, and you’d be right, what was mind-blowing was everything that happened during our 3 days in Sweden. There was the Øresund Bridge, the castle in Trelleborg, the Sports Bar, drinks and canapes at the mayor’s, the list goes on and on.

Kim lost the iconic Vångavallen a week before the hop (the away team in our tie folded), but he managed to create something that took on a life of its own. Much of the credit should go to Torbjörn the mayor and the tourist office, we spent most of our time in their area feeling touched and humbled at the welcome we were getting. The choice of hotel was inspired too; it placed us in prime position to explore Trelleborg. That helped foster a sense of common purpose, even down to convincing a waitress to serve us a beer and a kebab at 10.30pm! The clubs’ welcomes were fulsome and when all the little moments of happiness add up sufficiently you create an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.

A couple of weeks of hindsight is handy in writing in this. Kim loved the hop being based in Skåne nearly as much as Trelleborg loved having us there. Kim has confirmed next year’s hop will be based like this one at the Best Western Magasinet in Trelleborg, although we are looking at whether we can do a hop price excluding the hotel so if people want to book cheaper accommodation they can, remembering the coach will leave and return to our base as normal.

Vångavallen is top of our list of potential grounds, Kim’s becoming something of a dog with a bone over it, but he’s also looking at iconic grounds in Malmö and even Ystad too. Ystad would allow us to look at some kind of “Wallender” tie-in which could be interesting. Hopefully circumstances will be a lot kinder to my friend from Stockholm next year. He puts a lot of effort into producing what has been an exceptional series of hops, and I for one am grateful he’s willing and able to continue. Hopefully more of his friends, and the wider hopping community will support what is the original foreign organised hop. If you’ve liked what you’ve seen over these articles and would like to join our mailing list just email Kim on joachim.hedwall@srf.se or follow me on Twitter @laurencereade. See you in Sweden!