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Friday 8th June 2018 ko 19.00

Division 5 Sydöstra Skåne

YSTADS I.F. F.F 0

LIGA 06 I.F 3 (Andersson 27 A Svensson 64 H Nilsson 71)

Att 140

Entry 50sek

The Swedish Hop’s £230 cost included two nights bed and breakfast in Trelleborg, coach travel including to and from Kastrup Airport, tolls on the Øresund Bridge, and all entry fees and programmes for the games.

Last year’s Swedish Hop produced some amazing memories, not least the drinks reception at the Mayor of Trelleborg’s home. There was one massive disappointment, and that was that only 12 people booked, down from our usual 20 or so. I decided to take a little advice.

The usual chestnut came out, to feature top flight games more. That’s easily done on the eastern European hops, where entry costs tend to be nominal to western wallets, and the general costs far lower than in Scandanavia. Additionally, we’d included Allsvenskan and Superettan games on previous hops to little increase in numbers. But I didn’t want to dismiss the big ground idea out of hand, in the end I saw it as time to get creative, and simultaneously, so did organiser Kim Hedwall! What we ended up doing was supplementing our normal unknown gems with one massive ground. 

Another idea was to adopt the blueprint used by the eastern European hops where the hoppers book their own accommodation. Kim agreed that it was worth a look then the Trelleborg Tourist Board offered him a massive discount on the rooms at the Best Western, so long as we all stayed there. That represented a £60 discount on last year’s cost, and with a hopper’s comment that “If you can do it for £230, I’ll come” ring in my ears we agreed to run with a 5 game hop and hope we could pick up a sixth game in the weeks before the hop. The sixth game didn’t happen and Mr £230 didn’t come either but Kim Hedwall’s resourcefulness is one of many reasons why this was the 12th edition of this unique event.

The first surprise Kim pulled was a welcome revisit of an old trick. The Swedish hop’s June slot means the professional teams are on summer break so that means their team coaches are available. He books the coach company then asks whether we can use the team coach as only 20 or so of us will be using it? So I smiled as the Trelleborgs FF team coach collected 16 of us with the driver Jörgen understanding our humour straightway. In addition to the hop party it was good to have Christian and Ditte from the tourist board back again to make sure everything went smoothly.

The early Friday activity is something we started as something to keep everyone occupied from an early arrival until our hotel rooms are ready. We’ve visited castles, and visited the Olympic stadium but this time our rooms were ready so the hop party had a few minutes to find their rooms and stow their luggage but then Kim did what he does best, he spent the rest of the day blowing our collective minds!

We headed south-east to Smygehamn, the most southerly town in Sweden for a traditional meal and time to catch up with friends. There was also the small matter of the restaurant having the most bucolic seaview and whether you wanted to stretch out flight-tired legs or just relax with a beer it was a wonderful place to spend a little time.

Once Kim suggested heading to Ystad for Friday night I immediately suggested a “Wallander” theme. Now I’m a massive fan of Henning Markell’s taciturn detective, but then maybe coming from Oxford having our most famous resident being a fictitious troubled policeman too makes me a kindred spirit!

I did wonder whether I’d made an error, how many of our party would be a fan of late night showings of Krister Henriksson and Johanna Sällström in Swedish with English subtitles? It seemed very few of the 15 of had is so it is to the great credit of the Ystad Studios Visitor Centre that the whole history of the Wallander tv show and a film industry built from Markell’s generosity was explained in a engaging manner, and there was the chance to see the sets and try out some of the props and filming techniques too!

But this day needed a football match and I knew we had an ace up our sleeves with Sandskogens IP. The facility is huge with several outside football pitches (another Division 5 game took place there), an athletics stadium, and a football stadium with a double-sided stand and a sea view at the back. Then there was the two tier tower allowing simultaneous announcing for the football and athletics. In fact we were just exploring when the call to beer concentrated our minds….

The club had laid on beer and Korv med bröd (hot dogs) for us and were happy to tell us a little about themselves. It isn’t easy being a football club in Ystad, this town is handball mad with two top-flight clubs including the handball section of Ystads FF. Nevertheless it was just a joy to relax and watch a seventh level Swedish football match.

We were joined by Per-Gunnar Nilsson, editor of the excellent Groundhopping.se site and whose help on which grounds to visit was invaluable in setting up this hop. He’s based in Kristianstad but hadn’t visited Sandskogens IP before so decided to come along to meet us!

He picked a local derby of sorts, Liga is a slightly contrived mnemonic of Löderup och Ingelstorps Gemensamma Allians or translated Löderup and Ingelstorps Common Alliance- a merger of two village clubs. Löderup is around 24 km east of Ystad and their combined selves needed a win to put them top of the table. That they managed with a minimum of fuss despite the British interlopers rooting for the hosts!!

I was fortunate to watch the second half from the gods – the announcer’s box for a birds’ eye view. I felt slightly divorced from the action up there with the pressman, but it was wonderful to gaze over the vista, then pick up on the smiles on each and every British face there. All too soon it was over but the farewell given by the club was as beautiful as the sunset as we headed back to Trelleborg.

As it is virtually a tradition most of us headed for a local pub, the Tre Lykktor, or Three Lanterns, just a stone’s throw from the hotel. I’m not sure that it was a good thing that we were recognised from 2017, but the bottles of Mariestads Export were as good as ever. It was good to be back but perhaps the truth of why we’d enjoyed ourselves so much was that the day had been so much more than just football? It was to be a running theme for the weekend.