The Danish national newspaper, Berlingske, asked on today’s front page Hvem er Svenskerne? (Who are the Swedes?). Being the investigative journalisat that I am, I decided to make my way to the very tip of Sweden to watch Trelleborgs FF in the second tier of the Swedish league, the Superettan, and find out. A few people recently have been saying that I should make the most of my life without kids. I am not sure this is what they meant.
I was not lying.
Trelleborgs may ring a bell for some of you followers of English football as they vanquished Blackburn Rovers in the 94/95 Uefa Cup. This was the very same season as Alan Shearer et al went on to win the Premier Legaue. Trelleborgs were knocked out in the next round by Lazio for those of you who want to know what happened next.
My (not very indepth) research shows that Trelleborgs have a reputation as unfashionable provincial team built on solid defence and robust playing style. This sounds like it is going to be a thriller. Indeed, Trelleborg’s stadium, Vångavallen, was even nicknamed “Tjongavallen” (from Swedish “Tjonga” – to hoof the ball). What have I done? This reputation was garnered during the 90s when the team clung to its top flight spot despite being predicted to go down each season. Their stay ended in 2001 and they have not yet returned. With the Swedish season halfway through, it looks unlikely that they will return again this year. Despite a mean defence, they have only scored a goal a game on average and sit in the middle of the middle of the league.
Man ruined my through tunnel photo.
Trelleborgs opponents this evening is Åtvidabergs FF, a team from much further North (stating the obvious really given the geographical location of tonight’s hosts). Åtvidabergs FF have also flirted with top flight football and indeed were a power house of the country in the early 70s winning the Swedish league in 1972 and 1973. Tonight’s visitors are just two points ahead of Trelleborgs and also seeing their promotion hopes start to fade.
Trelleborgs is fortunately not a million miles from Copenhagen, which is good because it is a school night and I probably have far more important things to be doing. That said, Gy is back in Budapest and the sun is shining. The town is small and if you look inland when arriving you see a quaint, tidy Scandi costal town. Look to the left and you see a bustling port complex complete with all the detritus such a large industrial structure brings. Probably best not to look that way. When I arrived, the place was empty (almost deserted). The town (like many ports) had an end of the world feeling. The trains go no further and the roads go no further. Perhaps that has a psychological impression on the town’s people.
Looks warm. Actually cold.
I got lost. Not sure what has happened to my navigation skills but they are all over the place. Fortunately, getting lost in this place still means that you are only five minutes from where you want to be plus it also meant I get to watch a glimpse of some bonus girl’s football taking place in a park next to the stadium. I would have stayed and watched some more, taken some photos etc., but I think I am old enough to fall into creepy old man territory now so I bustled onwards.
Vångavallen is a compact little stadium just 15 minutes walk from the station. There is a long single tiered stand along one side of the grand, opposite a large grandstand. One end has a temporary terracing which I assume is when the away team bring a few more than the 12 fans that Åtvidabergs had. (Still quite impressive for a Monday night fixture which Google tells me involves a five hour journey).
Like all of Sweden, the stadium was clean and peaceful. I had a 3.5% Carlsberg at a mere SEK 30, before realizing I was the only one drinking. Still the 3.5% beer is less harmful to your health then the gallons of cola others were going through.
Just the usual photo of men from behind.
Gy and I were discussing how I struggled to write the match report of the games. Generally because I tend to forget what actually happened and also I fear that it may not be that interesting. She suggested that writing notes might be a good idea so in lieu of the suggested notepad, I made the following scrawls on my phone. This is word for word.
1 good goal 6 min stunning home volley 11 min same guy another volley 48 mm 6 booked for moving ball before slotting home FK 52 mins. A winner? Nice move on right before number 9 heads home from cross. 61 again from the right. Deflected cross put home for the hat trick 67 trelleborg play super high line 75 away team miss back to back sitters 79 5-2 on the counter
Massive action photo.
Maybe my 3.5% beer had an impact because that seems like a fairly incomprehensible mess. In summary, it was a bit of thriller. Three goals in the opening salvoes of the game including a couple of great volleys by Salif Jonsson (who went on to score a hattrick). Åtvidabergs equalized just after half-time before three unanswered home goals put the game beyond any doubt. Trelleborgs did play a very high line and combined with a clearly direct style made for something of a different spectacle. It was physical, but not dirty. Any away team would not fancy coming here with Trelleborgs on that form.
I really enjoyed the game. Having half expected another 0-0 or other binary score, the opening minutes were excellent. The last ten minutes after the fifth dragged a little with both teams showing no urgency and more importantly the chill of a Swedish August beginning to bite.
I got home at 23.00. Was it worth it? I’ll refrain from answering. Who are the Swedes? I shall answer. They are the people who live in Sweden. Must have been a slow news day at Berlingske.
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