Saturday, April 07, 2007

Trelleborgs FF – IFK Göteborg (6-4-2007)

I’m spending two months for work in the South Swedish city of Malmö, which is not just a very pleasant town, but also a perfect location for groundhopping. Not only can I watch games in (South) Sweden, I can also take the train to Copenhagen for games in the Danish competition. As Good Friday is a holiday, I decided to take my first groundhop of this stay. And as one shouldn’t overdo it in the beginning, I decided to go to the town of Trelleborg, the most southern town of Sweden.

As Trelleborg doesn’t have a railway station, I had to take the bus from Malmö. They actually had a special bus for the football game, which followed the regular bus (146) from Malmö to Trelleborg, but ended at the football stadium rather than the central bus station. The trip of roughly 30 km took some 30 minutes. There were some 20 people in the bus, all supporters of IFK Göteborg. Around 14.00 the bus dropped us straight in front of the visitors’ stand of Vångavallen stadium.

As the clouds looked threatening, and it was quite cold and windy, I decided to buy a ticket for the main stand: a covered seat would cost me 140 SEK (ca. 15 euro), which was fine, but the sorry excuse for a ticket, i.e. the receipt, was not! If this is the future of football, God help us! Fortunately, I could buy a nice pennant and a fat, spicy sausage with aivar, which somehow softened my mood. As my seat was in a cold and windy spot, and didn’t provide me with many opportunities to take pictures of the ground, I decided to walk around instead. At various times the sun came through, and although it remained cold and windy, it was a great afternoon for football.

According to the website of Trelleborgs FF Vångavallen can hold 10.000 people. I am quite skeptical about that estimate though. For this first game of the 2007 Allsvenskan (Swedish Premier League) season, against the powerhouse of Swedish football, 5.480 spectators had come to the stadium, I would estimate between a third and half supporting the visitors. While IFK has many supporters outside of Göteborg, between 10 and 12 buses had made the 272.5 km long trip to Trelleborg! That shows real support!

Just before 15.00 the players came onto the pitch and the season was about to start… but not before some obscure woman had sung the Swedish national anthem! I don’t know whether this is customary, like in South Korea or the US, or because of the start of the season, but I’m not a big fan of national anthems before games. Fortunately, while most people stood up, hardly anyone sang (except the IFK fans, but they song their own song :-).

The game started furiously. After a couple of half-chances, IFK scored 0-1 in the 6th minute. As the goal was scored in front of their own supporters, which were housed on what seemed an emergency stand, they went mad and even accidentally pushed through the fence. Fortunately, the Göteborg supporters (including the “ultras” ;-) were as surprised as the stewards and police, and everyone behaved as one expects from Swedes: properly.

I must admit, at that time I feared the game was over. Let’s face it, when the biggest team in the country scores the 0-1 after 5 minutes against a team that until recently played in the first division, the best you can hope for is a big victory for the favorites. However, instead of a walk-over by IFK, the home team recovered quickly and took the initiative. Although it took them some time to start creating real chances, during which time IFK always seemed the more dangerous (though more in potential than actions), Trelleborgs FF clearly dominated the highly attractive game. And in the 43rd minute they scored the very deserved equalizer from a corner, captured aptly by yours truly! 1-1 was also the half time score.

The second half started with a short offensive by IFK, which almost led to another quick lead. However, Trelleborgs recovered and slowly but steadily pulled the initiative back. The game remained attractive, mostly because of the attacking spirit of the home team, with half and real chances on both sides. The most bizarre was when the IFK goalie, chased by the Trelleborgs striker, mishit the ball, which ricocheted from the striker, over the goalie, but the soft shot of the striker was cleared from the line by an IFK defender. After having been dominated for most of the second half, IFK started another offensive 5 minutes from the end, leading to several good chances, but (fortunately) no goal. With 1-1 the final score, I felt Trelleborgs FF got what it had hoped for, but less than it deserved. All in all, however, a highly entertaining game and very pleasant groundhop. This promises for the weeks to come!

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