Wednesday, May 09, 2007

IFK Göteborg – Halmstad BK (30-04-2007)

Göteborg is the second biggest city of Sweden and home to the most famous team of the country, IFK Göteborg. In fact, it is home to (at least) three (semi-)professional football teams: GAIS (currently also in the Allsvenskan, the Swedish Premier League) and Orgryte IS (currently in the Superettan, the First Division). Although like all (real) groundhoppers I tend to prefer the second or third club of a city, I have always had a bit of a weakness for Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna Göteborg, the band of semi-profs who won the Uefa Cup twice in the 1980s (1982 and 1987). So, I decided to visit the city for a two-day trip with my girlfriend and see a game of IFK.

We took the train from Malmö around 11.00, arriving in Göteborg some three hours later. On the way in we had already seen the lights of the massive Nya Ullevi (New Ullevi) stadium. For the past years IFK had been playing in the smaller Gamla Ullevi (Old Ullevi), but this has been recently destroyed to make way for a new modern arena with the logical (well, at least in Göteborg) name: Nya Gamla Ullevi. Unfortunately, this means that they play their games in the 2007 season in the vast (Nya) Ullevi, which houses 43,200, but is at best half full (in the top games against the big Stockholm teams).

Not aware of this, I had ordered tickets online through the Swedish version of Ticketmaster, Ticnet. For 140 SEK (including 15 SEK service charges) each, roughly 15 euro, we bought tickets for Sektion A3, which put us almost at the middle of the pitch, second tier. The stadium is a huge concrete monster, almost identical to the old ground of Malmö FF, and for IFK games they only sell tickets for certain parts of the stadium.

Despite the fantastic weather, and the fact that the opponent was a good team from relatively nearby (Halmstad is a bit over one our away from Göteborg), a mere 8,320 people found their way to the stadium, of whom only some 100 from Halmstad.

The game started disappointing for the home fans. After just 4 minutes Halmstad scored 0-1 with a freak goal. The striker accidentally curled the corner kick into the far corner of the goal, completely surprising both the defender and the goalie. Except for two away fans jumping up, most people around us started cursing and moping.

When IFK remained the weaker team, sarcasm got the best of some around us. To be fair, they were severely tested by the poor performance of the home team. There is nothing left of the grandeur of the old team that won the Uefa Cup, except for the noteworthy jerseys. Most players are mediocre at best, even within the Swedish league, as I had already noticed at the Trelleborg game. Halmstad was not much better though, and didn’t seem to want to push their luck for a second goal. As a consequence, a fairly equal and decent, but not particularly good game developed. Not fully deserved IFK would even score an equalizer, and a pretty one (a half volley from some 12 meters), a couple minutes before half-time: 1-1.

At half-time I roamed the stadium, as far as I was able to go, in search for souvenirs and interesting snacks. I found none: they only sold t-shirts and shawls (not the pennants I collect) and hot dogs and drinks. The second half was much the same as the first, but without goals. Moreover, because of the many changes the game became even less fluent. 1-1 was a deserved final score, as Halmstad didn’t push for more, and IFK couldn’t create more.

Ok, IFK Göteborg is a team of the past, rather than the present, but it still is a nice club to visit. They have a great strip, a beautiful logo, and a good following. Moreover, where can you still visit a stadium in the heart of the city. And in the new stadium the atmosphere will undoubtedly be much better. Unfortunately for groundhoppers, the Nya Gamla Ullevi will be home to all three (main) Göteborg teams.

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