Who Said Romance Was Dead (part 2)

Malmo v IFK Goteborg (02.05.2011)

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Day two of the romantic weekender saw us catch the international train from Copenhagen into Sweden via the Øresund Bridge. The Øresund Bridge is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, and connects Copenhagen and Malmo in less than 35 minutes.

The bridge runs nearly 5 miles between ‘Scania’ (southernmost Sweden) to the artificial island of Peberholm, which lies in the middle of the strait. The remainder of the link is by a 2.5 mile tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager.

The swift journey between borders was only interrupted by the Swedish Border Police and their sniffer dogs, which made a beeline for a group of young female American students in the seats adjacent to us. It was great in-train entertainment to see the girls shit themselves as they tried to deny any wrong doing. “The dog is never wrong” was calmly offered by the Swedish policeman as the girls protested their innocence. “We might have had a joint in Amsterdam” was one girls claim. As we approached Malmo station, they were asked to leave the train for a search, and as they got up to follow the Police off of the train, one of the girls discarded a small packet under the seat as they left. It was smoothly pulled off and I’m surprised the Police (and the dogs) missed it – but I wonder if they got away with it in the end?

Malmo is a small city with a population of approx 250,000 and the station is located very close to the old town and main city centre area. The city is easily walk able, and the main sights to be had come via the Old Town, the ‘Turning Torso’, Malmo Castle and the picturesque city park ‘Kungsparken’.

MAL2The Swedbank Arena is located in the south of the city and has a capacity of 24,000. Opened in 2009, the stadium was used initially used for the U21 International tournament before it hosted Malmo’s domestic league games.

Although the stadium is walk-able from the city centre – cycling is the preferred match day form of transportation for the fans! Literally thousands of people cycle to the game – and to get an idea of the volume of bikes involved check out the photo below of the bike racks outside the ground:

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The Swedbank Stadion is served by Malmö bus lines 3, 5, 6, and 34, all of which stop close by to the stadium. The stadium is also located close to the underground railway stationTriangeln’.  

Tickets can be picked up well in advance by Swedish ticketmaster, and you can even pick your specific seat. I had managed to secure two front row upper tier seats behind the goal in the E.on stand. The opposite stand – the Carlsberg Stand – houses up to 6,000 Malmo ultras – which are more commonly known as the ‘Supras’. Our seats in the Eon Stand provided the perfect viewing point for the somewhat unexpected ‘Supra’s tifo’s that were on display at this match.

My knowledge of Swedish football and fan culture was, and still is relatively poor, but I was pleasantly surprised by the “shades of 78” ticker tape reception that was bestowed on the teams as they walked out for kick off!

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Unbeknown to me at the time but Sweden has a strong domestic fan base and an active ultras culture. Clubs such as IFK Goteborg, AIK, Djurgarden and Helsinborgs (to name a few) all have a strong ultras following, and atmospheres at some of the domestic games in Sweden can be right up there. For example the AIK v Djurgarden derby in Stockholm (or ‘Tvillingderbyt’ as it’s known locally) is supposed to be superb.

MAL3Throughout my years of watching football abroad, the ultra’s tifo’s have become more and more a valued part of the overall football experience that I find myself continually seeking. In many ways I suppose I am a sucker for a good tifo – and for many of the matches that I have selected to watch, as much consideration has been given to the reputation of the fans of that particular club as it has the actual game itself, or the teams and players involved! They say a team’s fans can be the 12th man; and it’s often the 12th man factor that can sway my match selection!

This was game week 6 in the Allenskaven, and Malmo had got off to mixed start; played 5, won 3 and lost 2. By contrast IFK had endured a terrible start to their campaign losing 4 out their opening 5 games.

On watching this game though you wouldn’t have known IFK Goteborg were the team struggling for form as they dominated the game and restricted Malmo to very few chances.

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Despite going down two nil at home there was a decent atmosphere throughout the game produced by the passionate Malmo Ultras. It’s games like this that the collective spirit and loyalty shown by the fans really shines through. Support through thick and thin. It’s something that for me is more noticeable abroad these days. In England for example, more often than not an atmosphere at a game can rapidly subside if a team is losing or having an off day. Is it linked to that ‘modern football’ approach that we are becoming ever accustomed to in the UK?…the all-seater stadiums; the expensive tickets; Roy Keane’s “prawn sandwich” fan; and the plastic experience offered to fans in the top flight these days? Probably.

Scorers: T. Hysen 31’, 66’

Att 17,221

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