Saturday 13th June 2009 ko 13.00

Division 5 Norra Stockholm

ROSLAGSKULLA IF 6 (Åkerström 25 80 Fredriksson 66 Ledin 70 Nilsson 85 Makoli 87)

KISTA SC 0 

Ghiasand sent off 67 (Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures)

Att 73

Entry FREE

In the 13 (so far) editions of the Swedish Hop, there have been no end of highlights – just put “Sweden” into the search bar to the left of this text. But I may surprise organiser Kim Hedwall and those who’ve been regular visitors on the hop. I reckon the best group of grounds were on the 3rd event in 2009. There was however one problem with that hop- the weather!

Put simply it barely stopped raining from the moment we landed at Skavsta Airport to the moment we arrived back there just over two days later. There seemed to be little or no hiding place from the deluge either to the point that at least one hopper wore plastic bags in lieu of socks on the Sunday!

This game was the second game on the Saturday and we’d headed out of Stockholm following the line of the Roslagsbanan, Sweden’s only narrow gauge railway on the country’s main network- you can even use it using your SL Access card, Stockholm’s equivalent of the Oyster Card.

But this part of north-eastern Stockholm County has some wonderful places to watch a game. The islands of the archipelago are just about large enough to each support a non-league club be it Österåker or Danderyds .  Over the years the Swedish Hop has dipped into the world of the Roslagsbanan on a regular basis. But Lötvallen might just be the most intriguing of all of them.

For a start this isn’t the kind of ground a groundhopper is likely to visit on their own. You’d take the Roslagsbanan to Åkersberga then a bus north to beyond Roslagskulla or Roslags-Kula depending on whose map you’re using. But even then you’d have a 20 minute walk down from the bus stop to the banks of the Baltic, and yes its the Baltic that makes Lötvallen what it is.

If you did walk it, and marvelled at the forest opening out to the football ground, and let’s face it who couldn’t love a football ground that has a bathing spot cut out of the banks for the club’s players. The scene is part river/ part forest but as we ventured forth from Thomas’ coach a huge ocean-going liner glided past.

I, and every other non-Swedish person there had completely forgotten that the ground backs on to a major shipping lane that runs from Stockholm and its archipelago to the likes of St Peterburg and Riga. It is quite a sight and I suppose the nearest English equivalent is watching the container ships from the terrace at Canvey Island.

Now normally rain ruins a host club’s plans but here it might actually have helped friendly Roslagskulla. They’d set up a barbecue and bar under a gazebo and once we’d finished enjoying the fact that the barbecue was fashioned from an old sink unit with the plug acting to filter out the ash. But a bar and some cover with a view of the pitch proved popular- with half an eye on the day’s final game at Vaxholm.

And once were worked out that Mariestadts Export is pretty good beer and and Swedish kitchen sink burgers are an excellent way of forgetting just how wet your trousers were. It was a good game to watch too, if more than a little one-sided. A “Highlight” was the Kista player being sent off for a volley of verbals at the referee. As he glumly trooped off we asked Kim what he’d said. Kim asked and interpreted all too precisely the expletives. Sometimes you should be careful what you wish for!

I’ll always regret the weather on that hop, one hopper hasn’t returned since, but I could so easily have written about any of the grounds on it, they all had something special about them. Mind you if the football doesn’t return for another few months- maybe I will!