Thursday 18th August 2022 ko 20:00
Division 6B Stockholm
NOCKEBYHOVS IF 2 (Björklid 13 Ahmed 76)
APOLLON SOLNA 1 (Engström 69)
Att 41 at Åkeshovs BP
From the moment the ferry from Helsinki docked at Värtaterminalen I wondered how Sweden had changed since Robyn and I had visited last, a pandemic and 3 years ago. We took a bus into Nybroplan and immediately saw one change, you can use your credit card on the ticket gates in the same way you can in London.
Do be careful though, this method as the SL website says involves purchase a series of single 70 minute tickets, each costing 39 sek. Compare that to the 430 sek for 7 days unlimited use on a travelcard and maybe you can see why we opted for the 7 day card. We knew we’d make use of it!
We stayed in southern Stockholm, in Hammarby Sjöstad- the Sjöstad is pronounced Hweer- Stadt by the way, a district that was once a run-down post-industrial slum based around the Sickla canal, but has been completely redeveloped into a highly fashionable modern suburb with the tram linking Gullmarsplan metro with Sickla on the Saltsjobanan light railway. We saw plenty of that tram, most days travelling from Sicka Kaj (quay) into Gullmarsplan then into central Stockholm.
It became quickly clear that another change in Sweden is that it is now difficult to spend cash. Just about everywhere now accepts card only, even down to the taxis with the card machine tucked behind the handbrake!
But the whole point of being in Stockholm was to meet up with friends we’d been unable to see for so long. You may remember that in June 2011 Christian and Lars from the Swedish football magazine “Offside” followed that year’s Swedish Hop and my attempts to laugh off a broken marriage gained me something of a social media following.
And if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks earlier the magazine contacted me to do a follow-up piece which ended up being published just before we flew out. It’s an odd feeling buying a magazine with your picture in it! I also was asked to recommend 4 grounds in the UK which are a little off the beaten track. Have a guess what I picked! Answers after the photos
That following included Christian who finally got to meet Robyn over a meal at, would you believe a Thai tapas restaurant! Then there’s Per and Bettan, the parents of one of the Åkersberga players on that hop who’ve become wonderful friends over the years. We joined them for a typically Swedish Crayfish and Prosecco party overlooking a vista of Stockholm as the sunset. Both were experiences we’ll take to the grave.
But I wouldn’t know any of these people and more as friends if I didn’t have Kim Hedwall as one of my best friends in football. We’re are completely different people, he’s quiet and taciturn, I’m loud and verbose, but we share the same impish sense of humour, and somehow our personalities click. We met on a Central Midlands Hop near Mansfield, nearly 20 years ago and when he started organising the Swedish Hops in 2007 he used me as a sounding board for help and advice. He’s the reason I’ve watched more Swedish football matches than Scottish ones which is, let’s face it, bizarre!
We spent the day together, he knows Robyn likes boat trips so we met at Kungsträdgården and took the ferry out to Vaxholm for lunch. Later we used the part tram, part light rail Lidingöbanan to get back to Stockholm at Ropsten station. From there we headed to Bromma in the western suburbs firstly because we needed to eat, and secondly for our choice of game.
The food is worthy of mention. Near to just about any station in Sweden you’ll find a “Grill” cafe selling burgers, sausages and no on, but do look out for something quintessentially Swedish, the Tunnbrödsrulle. Translated, it simply means “thin bread roll”. It’s comprised of mashed potatoes, sausage or hot dogs, lettuce, shrimp salad, mayonnaise dressing, onions, ketchup and mustard and is served wrapped up in a tortilla or flatbread. And over all those visits over all those years I’d never tried one. Suffice it to say it will be part of the experience whenever we’re over.
From Bromma it was only a couple of stops along the Green metro line to Åkeshov. We passed by Åkeshovs Slott, or castle. There’s been a palace or castle here since the 15th century and was once owned by the bankers to the Swedish royal family. The building you see now dates from 1740, and is owned now by Stockholm Council who operate it as a hotel. We walked through some allotments nearby to get to Åkeshovs Bollplan, I imagined that once upon a time that would have been a rich merchant’s ornamental garden!!
As far as I’m concerned there’s a pecking order in where you can watch a Swedish football match. Top of the tree is the Stadion, then there’s the idrottsplats (sports field), and bottom of the pile is the humble bollplan (ball field) . The difference between an idrottsplats and a bollplan is most easily described as the former being for more than just variants of football. But there is more to it than that, here there was little more than a floodlit pitch and a changing room block, all set up beside the local equestrian school. I regarded the two sets of bleachers as a bonus! I’d expect to see a cafe at an idrottsplats too.
There haven’t been any massive changes to Swedish club football since our last visit 3 years ago. One cosmetic change is that the third tier Divisions Et (one) Norra (north) and Södra (south) have been rebadged Ettan Norra and Södra for their nomenclature to fit in with the Superettan (Super-one) above.
None of which affected these two clubs close to the bottom end of the footballing food chain in Stockholm. We were joined by another friend, Mats Nyström of the Swedish Society of Football Statistics. He’s best known for his comment to Christian in the Offside article where he said,
“If Victoria Silvestedt walked naked into one of our meetings no one would notice!”
He had history here, having attended school nearby, and having played games here no end of times. Once again it was lovely to be able to catch up.
Nockeby is a residential district of Bromma, so it was entirely appropriate they should play home games here. The opposition as you’d expect are formed from the Greek community who I tend to associate with Akropolis who we saw at Spånga IP on our last visit. Sadly they went bankrupt after playing Superettan football at Grimsta IP.
With so many municipal grounds in Sweden being converted to artificial surfaces you see the impact it’s had on the style of play, particularly as the rolling substitutions rule has been in place for local football for many years. Teams must play passing football as there’s no point bashing the ball down the channels, as it will simply run away.
Here Nockebyhovs played that game better than their opponents, and that was despite a 20 minute delay when the rather yellow floodlights failed and had to cool before being restarted. But that was no issue to us, it gave 4 friends more time to catch up. And that of course was the whole reason we’d taken a plane, a boat, and a few trains to get there.
The 4 grounds I selected for “Offside” magazine were, and I picked one from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, were
England – Victoria Bottoms (Nanpean Rovers) https://laurencereade.com/2020/03/18/wonderland/
Scotland- Bellslea Park ( Fraserburgh) https://laurencereade.com/2021/08/18/fishing/
Wales, Blandy Park (Garw SBGC) https://laurencereade.com/2016/09/11/meetontheledge/
Northern Ireland, The Oval (Glentoran) https://laurencereade.com/2014/10/01/titanic/
But I’m sure you could pick 4 different ones!!!