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Saturday 8th June 2019 ko 11.00

Division 6 Sydvästra Skäne

GISLÖVS IF 1 (O Idrizi 34)

VÄSTRA INGELSTAD IS 4 (Reuterskold 54 81 86 Wästerberg-Hertz 65)

Att 75

The Swedish Hop’s cost of £285 included all entry fees, programmes, coach travel, 2 bridge tolls on the Øresund Bridge and 2 nights’ bed and breakfast at the Clarion Magasinet Hotel in Trelleborg.

If Robyn’s I’s trip to Copenhagen over the previous 4 days had been about change then the same applied to the Swedish Hop afterwards. Leaving aside the fact that the hop had started in Denmark we awoke in the same hotel as for the previous two hops, the Magazinet in Trelleborg, but even that had switched from being a Best Western to a Clarion over the course of last year. Other changes though were more fundamental.

When organiser Kim Hedwall moved the hop down from Stockholm in 2017 we ended up here in no small part because Trelleborg’s tourist board saw the Swedish Hop as a means of promoting the town as a tourist destination rather than as a port town. Imagine if you will trying to get tourists to spend time in Holyhead. The idea was enthusiastically embraced by town mayor Torbjörn Karlsson to the extent that we ended up visiting his home to have beer and canapes with him and his wife!

But last September there was an election, and he lost to Mikael Rubin. Now as an outsider the politics involved are not my concern, save to comment that every time we’ve encountered Mr Karlsson he’s been a credit to himself, his town and his country.

It put in doubt our return to Trelleborg, as no one knew what Mr Rubin’s attitude to a group of middle-aged British football fans would be. Anyone who knows us knows we don’t lack ideas of where we could move to, a Norwegian leg was discussed on this hop. But in the end we were invited back for a 3rd year which was appreciated on economic terms (we get a discount on the hotel), on practical terms (we’ve got an excellent infrastructure here), we love the help Christian and Ditte from the tourist board give us, and more than anything else it is a stunningly beautiful part of the world! And yes, we certainly see Trelleborg as a place to visit, and not just a place to travel through.

I took the view that if this was to be our last hop in Trelleborg then we should enjoy it to the maximum extent, and as such we managed to finesse on to the schedule two grounds we’d spotted on previous hops that we all fancied visiting. The first was Gislövs IP which we’d passed just about every time we’d headed east out of Trelleborg.

The ground is one of those typical Swedish village idrottsplats that this part of the world seems to make stunning beautiful every time they build one. It was a morning of surprises though.

Firstly the club gave us a short talk on the club and its home, before a journalist found Robyn. At the Trelleborg FF game last year he’d interviewed her for a piece he was writing for the local newspaper. We got home, tried to access the article but found it behind a paywall that you needed a Swedish National Insurance Number to access! But the journalist spotted that we’d be at this game, and turned up with a photocopy of his article! The gesture was very much appreciated!

There was another friendly face though, and that was Torbjörn Karlsson’s! Despite having now absolutely no reason to, he came out to see us, and had the grace to introduce us to his replacement as mayor. I found it rather humbling to observe the new and former mayors spend time in each other’s company. The mutual respect was obvious despite the rancour that must have accompanied a tough election campaign. I’m sure many others could learn from their example.

I had long chat with the erstwhile mayor, and he was taking a fairly phlegmatic view of unemployed life. He’d travelled to Wembley to see his beloved Derby County lose in the Championship Play-Off Final, something he’d have never been able to do had he still been mayor. Every cloud and all that…

It goes without saying that a friendly club and a pretty location meant the usual happened and our presence jinxed our hosts. But on the balance of play the visitors deserved their win but this visit as is usually the case was worth so much more than just the football. I’ve long been of the opinion that if I tried to sell the Swedish Hop on just the football we’d have been lucky to have done 3 hops never mind the 13 we’ve done.

I think the secret is that everywhere we’ve been without ever saying so, we’ve aimed to make friends everyone we’ve met. And as much as dear Kim wants to show off Sweden, and Trelleborg wants to do the same for their town, us as visitors have treated the wonderful hospitality the right way and so people are always keen to meet us, even the local hosteries! But that was later, we had another couple of games to see!