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Sunday 9th June 2019 ko 15.00

Division 7 Södra Skåne

HOLMEJA IS 1 (Rosefors 8)

ONSLUNDA IF 1 (Orfawi 36p) L Axelsson sent off (2nd Booking)

Att 69

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.

From Lilla Beddinge the coach headed north, which seemed a little counter-intuitive for a “South” division. Such I suppose are the vagaries of life in the bottom division in Skåne. The irony was despite this game being the last on the 13th annual Swedish Hop, we were close to the wrong airport, Holmeja is close to Malmö airport but the party were all destined to depart from Kastrup in Copenhagen.

As the coach wended its way along rural roads, the view was achingly beautiful. Robyn spotted me gazing through the window utterly alone in my thoughts. She understood, the annual trip to Sweden over its 13 years has become a real highlight of my year and as lovely as the view was I was very aware that it was all about to finish.

The coach pulled on to a brief section of dual carriageway, and we soon by-passed a little football ground. There were players warming up and to a man (and one woman) we all looked to our left and wondered who played there. Organiser Kim Hedwall allowed a grin to crack his normally taciturn features; the coach reached a roundabout and “U-turned” so as to turn off for the small village of Holmeja and the Erik Petters Idrotsplats.

Despite the nearby airport Holmeja is a sleepy but bucolic place, and the locals seemed a little nonplussed as to why a group of British people travelling on the Trelleborgs FF team coach would be remotely interested in the village football team. Still, the welcome was fulsome and the hot dogs excellent, in fact the only issue was that everyone associated with Holmeja and most of the British were expecting a home win.

It wasn’t difficult to see why, the cosmopolitan Onslunda were and are having a poor season, and with Holmeja reasonably placed to regain their Division 6 place this could and should have been an easy home win for them.

Perhaps the visitors turning up with a virtually identical kit to their hosts didn’t help but in an at-times incendiary game, Holmeja failed to control possession enough to enforce their will on the game. That said, Onslunda’ s commitment was total and it did spill over, Lars Axelsson managed to pick up 2 bookings in seconds for a volley of verbals to earn first use of the showers- and he wasn’t even on the pitch at the time!

So a draw it was, which pleased Onslunda, but especially pleased Robyn as it meant she’d won our “Guess the scores” competition. We headed back towards, then over the Øresund Bridge and for once there was plenty of time for the pleasantries and awards that have become a tradition over the 13 editions of the Swedish Hop.

Thanks as always to Kim Hedwall, who remains the sole reason why the first non-UK organised hop still exists and without a break too. Our thanks also to Mayor Rubin, and all at the Trelleborgs Kommun, your kindness and hospitality over the last 3 years has been inspiring to all that have experienced it. Then there’s Christian and Ditte from the tourist board, who’ve probably seen more non-league football over these weekends than during the rest of their lives. Their kindness and help is much appreciated by us all.

So there we sat at Kastrup airport, exploring the little pop-up craft beer bar that had opened since last year’s hop. The thoughts were as you’d expect of what we’d experienced in the previous two days. For me, this was an excellent varied hop, and the dip into Danish football worked, in that it added something different into the mix. However bridge tolls will always make taking in a Danish game uneconomic unless the game is either the first or last of the event. I’m bound to say though crossing the border to or from Norway would be an exciting project. You can see why Kim has looked seriously at starting or ending the hop in Oslo.

This was a hop that I’m sure Kim will look back at with some satisfaction. Whilst nothing mindblowing happened, the little acts of kindness we received along the way continued the theme of us continuing the hop’s happy knack of making friends wherever we go. Long may that continue.

The good news is that soon after he got back to Stockholm Kim received a call from the Trelleborg tourist office, asking whether we’d like to return in 2020? My view is that given all Christian, Ditte and the tourist office do for us, I’m happy to go to Trelleborg while they still want us, and there’s new football grounds for us to visit! It’s certainly not set in stone that we’ll be back next year, there’s plenty that needs to be worked out, but the fact that Trelleborg likes the Swedish Hop enough to want us back makes me proud of what we’ve achieved.

But in the end the best advert for Sweden I can think of is Kim Hedwall. Back in the day we spent years trying to get him to organise a groundhop in Sweden. Perhaps it’s typical of the man that he took his time, and when he did, he made sure that 12 years’ later it’s still going and still making friends wherever we go.