Wednesday 6th June 2018 ko 15.00
Division One Norra
AKROPOLIS I.F. 1 (Alemayehu 43)
SOLLENTUNA FK 1 (Ramsell 28)
Entry & Programme 100 sek
Our last day in Stockholm was the day where Swedish Groundhop organiser Kim Hedwall showed his mettle. The Swedish hop was the first non-UK hop and has run every year since 2007. The reason it started was Kim and without him it couldn’t run- he and the event are indivisible. So when he asked the 4 of us to meet him earlier in the day at Fridhemsplan metro station our notoriously individualistic selves didn’t need to ask questions, we just planned our route!
It was a glimpse of the Stockholm you won’t find in the guide books, apart from perhaps the studio where ABBA made most of their recordings. Time with Kim teaches you to look beyond what is right in front of you and imagine the people that have walked through the doors in the past. I took a deep breath as we took the pendeltåg north to Spånga.
As you’d expect Akropolis are a team forged from the Greek community in Stockholm. The original football club was formed in Sundbyberg, a few kilometers south of Spånga in 1960, folded in 1969 but were reformed in 1975. The club, now based in Kista are best known for playing their games at Akalla Bollplan, but as one Swedish site I’ve read put it,
“That ground is called Ball Plan because its not good enough to be called an idrottsplats!”
Now if you take the view that Stadion (stadium) beats an idrottplats every time, perhaps you can see why Akropolis moved to Spånga IP when they were promoted to the third-tier Division One. In the Swedish game that promotion always comes with a sense of crossing the Rubicon.
The Swedish FA treats the Allsvenskan, Superettan and Divisions 1 Norra and Södra as professional and everything beneath as amateur. Clubs may be semi-professional either above or below the line, but above it a club’s structures must be professional in nature, and the costs therefore rise substantially if promotion is taken.
You saw it here, Akropolis have gone from playing in the regional Division 2 Norra Svealand where the longest trip was to clubs in and around Uppsala (around an hour’s drive) to an 8 hour drive to Skellefteå! Or putting it another way you certainly wouldn’t see former Celtic striker Mohammed Bangura on the books of a Division 2 club. I’d argue that in Sweden, Division 2 is where non-league starts.
In fact the surprise to the casual visitor is just how basic Spånga IP is, with just a few rows of benches and no cover. Akropolis have come come close to playing Superettan football missing out twice, in 2015 and 2017 in promotion/relegation playoffs both times against IFK Frej. They’d have moved into a groundshare at Brommapojkarna’s newly expanded Grimsta IP if they’d have been successful, or for that matter in the future!
Our game was a massive local derby. Other than being the birthplace of Ulrika Jonsson Sollentuna is a mere 13 km north of Spånga and they are another recent club to made the jump to the professional ranks, for the 2017 season. They are probably best known for once having former Arsenal legend Anders Limpar as assistant manager.
As you’d expect it was a tense, tight game, punctuated by the referee stopping the game briefly after a fan let of a firework with a loud bang! In the end the draw was probably the fairest result for these two mid-table sides, and that is a situation I suspect neither are unhappy with!
The day had one last gift to give us. We caught the train a few more stops south to Solna then strolled over to a funny little Serb owned Italian restaurant near to a level crossing. There we were, 4 English and 2 Swedish, eating a Hungarian invention- planksteaks and drinking to each other’s health.
Our time in Stockholm was nearing it’s end, but as the train dropped us off back at at Årstaberg we knew we had Trelleborg up our collective sleeves.