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Saturday 9th June 2018 ko 13.00

Division 6B Sydvästra Skåne

KLÅGERUPS G.I.F. 1 (Vågehed 48)

HALLANDS NATIONS FF 2 (Scholander 26 Brown 84p)

Att 34

Entry & Programme 40 sek

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.

At breakfast at the Swedish hop’s base on Trelleborg’s waterfront there were a few hangovers in evidence, but ever the one to look on the bright side of things, it did mean more meatballs and crispy bacon for me! Even hop organiser Kim Hedwall allowed himself a knowing smile, he knew he’d got a another superb day lined up, but the Saturday had proved to be the most difficult of the three to put together. 

Ideally we wanted a three-game day, but try as we did we couldn’t find, or move a game to the morning, but Kim’s great idea was to finish the day by watching Östra-Torp Smygehamn then joining the club for a barbecue and beers on the beach as the sun set at Smygehuk, Sweden’s most southerly point. Unfortunately, Smygehuk folded around a month before our arrival.

Kim’s solution was to switch the visit to Smygehuk to the first destination, then the Skåne FA kindly moved the game at Klågerup to 13.00, and the club hosting our second game Anderlöv, agreed to take on providing the party an evening meal after we’d watched them play. On paper it didn’t look ideal, but with a mixture of Kim’s skill, and a large dollop of goodwill from all concerned it produced a quite wonderful day.

So on another glorious Swedish summer’s day Jörgen expertly navigated the Trelleborgs FF team coach into the famous landmark. Those hangovers quickly disappeared as even the most cynical groundhoppers enjoyed a gentle hour or so at one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. We found a cafe and souvenir shop and the floppy sun hat was appreciated by Robyn and the ice cream even more so! One question did get asked and that if this is the most southerly, where is Sweden’s most northerly point? The answer is the Trericksröset cairn making the point where the borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet, some 977 miles or 1581 km north of here!

Now I’m sure the barbecue would have been wonderful, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out something similar in the future, but on this particular Saturday, it just worked. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusionn the Swedish Hop is about far more than football. Perhaps it was inevitable, Kim’s reason for hosting this event for 12 years, even at some cost to himself, has been to show his country in the best possible light. And let’s face it, if all you’re doing when you’re visiting Sweden is watching football then you’re missing out on so much.

As we left we were presented with certificates marking our visit, before we headed north to the pretty village of Klågerup. It’s a quiet place, with a church, a kindergarden and a pizzeria and you really wouldn’t expect the best known for a riot!

In 1811 in Skåne there was much unrest over conscription in the region and  a rebel army was raised in protest at both the government and local priests who were seen as siding with state forces. Eventually the revolt was put down, with the rebels’ last stand happening at Klågerup. Hundreds of rebels were marched in chains to be imprisoned in Malmö and it is a little surprising that only one ringleader was executed, in the Stortorget or main square in the city. There is a memorial on the outskirts of Klågerup.

These days the oddity of Klågerup is that it has two idrottsplats or sports fields when there’s only one club, Klågerups G.I.F. and they only play football. We passed Gamla (old) IP on the way to the Nya IP, the old field tends to be used by the younger age groups. I did remark that it all seemed similar to the Ullevi stadia in Gothenburg, if a little smaller, and a good deal less complicated which raised a smile.

The Nya IP on one level is a fairly basic ground, but then again what do you expect for a village side in the 6th division? It does have much to endear itself the entrance frames the place beautifully , the banking with the long bench is sheltered by the trees behind and is a fine viewing point. But here, as in so many other places the Swedish Hop has visited, it was the club and their people that I’ll remember.

It’s the fact that they were so obviously touched that a group of British people would be interested in their club, that they produced an English language version of their programme for our benefit, and then looked rather flummoxed when we immediately asked for the Swedish version too! The beers were greatly enjoyed, and who wouldn’t want to try a barbecue cooked on a pipe? It was a lovely friendly afternoon spent with the kind of people who are why I watch non-league football.

The sadness of the piece is that Klågerup are struggling, in a relegation play-off spot, and with my unique ability to completely jinx a friendly club I was worried. So it came to pass, there was virtually nothing between the two sides, the draw looked both likely and fair, but then there was a mistimed challenge in the box and the visitors tucked away the penalty gleefully.

It was tough, so tough on Klågerup, and it was the measure of them as a club, that there were the club officials waiting for us as we headed back to the coach with the gift of a replica shirt each. Now I’m sure some will look at these photos and fret about all the things Klågerup wasn’t. It was however one of those life-affirming afternoons in at a part of the work that if it wasn’t for the efforts of the incomparable Kim Hedwall, we’d have never known this club exists.