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Saturday 8th June 2019 ko 14.00

Division 4 Sydvästra Skåne

BK HÖLLVIKEN 2 (Larsson 11 Granqvist 87)

ÅKARPS IF 2 (Svensson 39p Åstland 74) Nilsson sent off (violent conduct) 90

Att 130

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.

After the morning of delightful surprises at Gislöv the coach by-passed Trelleborg and head due west tracing the Øresund coast out towards its confluence with the Baltic sea. Now if you look the town up on Wikipedia it’ll tell you its part of Vellinge Kommun, but I’m bound to say we saw no water-towers! 

Our immediate thought on arrival at Höllvikens IP was to look at the Stora Hammars Mölla or large smock-style windmill at the ground’s corner. There’s been a mill here since around 1569 but the current model closed in 1941, was restored in 1993 and these days is run by a trust and is in use only on Midsummer’s day! It does provide an interesting back-drop.

I suspect that for many of the hop party this was their favourite ground of the hop, the stand probably tipped the balance for them. But as lovely as the wooden tresses were, for me the memorable bit was seeing a club that had managed to place themselves wholly in the centre of their community. It was lovely to see it in action, everywhere you looked there were children playing in small-sided games and a volunteer manning something, from the excellent barbecue, to the Englishman whose accent was part Yorkshire, part Swedish who gave us an introduction to his club.

But that openness has caused, and will cause Höllviken problems. The ground is open, and it’s difficult to take a gate here. That explains why some databases have FC Höllviken as anchor tenant. They folded in 2011 after having a two-season stint in the third tier Division One Södra having found the realities of playing at that level impossible to sustain.

It is worth commenting that while the Swedish FA regards the top 3 tiers of the game as being fully professional (even if some of the players are not) you do see some of the grounds hosting at Division One level that are basic to put it mildly, try Akropolis’ Spånga IP for example.

What can happen in those instances is that playing the bigger clubs becomes an expense rather than a money-making sporting challenge and the clubs concerned soon have to drop back to “Amateur” football. I remember the 4th Swedish Hop visiting the rather basic Aspuddens IP in southern Stockholm for an Gröndals IK Division 1 Södra game; the next season they found themselves playing in Division 6.

So while Höllviken taking a backward step was certainly a retreat, in effect taking their reserves’ place in Division 4 probably saved the club, but more importantly kept the community links intact.

But as the game kicked off I kept thinking where had I seen Åkarps before? Thankfully Kim had the answer, and it’s why we complement each other so well! Around 7 years ago we did a 2 week, game-a-day tour of southern Sweden and many of the ideas you now see on Swedish Hops were worked on during that time, in fact one or two places we’re still working on! We watched mostly games in the top two or three tiers of the game in Sweden but one evening we dipped into local football at a small village near to Lund. Our trip to Furulunds IK turned into a real highlight, mainly due to their wonderful hospitality.

Furulund lost to Åkarps that day in a Division 3 Södra Götaland tie and were relegated out of sight that season, and now play in Division 5 Västra Skåne. Åkarps didn’t survive much longer; it turned out Division 3 was as good as it got for both sides that day!

If Åkarps and Höllviken had differing backgrounds then the footballing planets aligned to give us all a wonderful game of football. As the score would suggest, the game lurched from superiority to one team then the other, and when Höllviken’s late, late equaliser went in you heard the cheers from the crowd and saw the smiles from the hop party. You really wouldn’t have wanted to have been anywhere else on that afternoon in June. Well, perhaps save for Simon Nilsson… whose uncalled for headbutt served only to give him a marginal first use of the showers.

But as the coach slowly reversed out of Höllvikens IP, it was easy to sum this place up. Lovely ground, lovely people, and a lovely club- exactly what Kim and I want the Swedish Hop to be about, and there were more goodies to come.