Cool with the little Fullers

 Swedish Football seen through the eyes of a 5 and an 8 year old.

Every year in the Fuller household we have a tradition.  During the school summer holidays I will take both little Fuller’s away for a night somewhere in Europe, taking in a bit of culture, a game of football and a theme park or funfair.  They look forward to these little mini-breaks as if they were huge expensive holidays, packing and re-packing their cases weeks in advance, and looking up their destinations on the internet, impressing their friends.  Past destinations have been Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.  This year we had picked Sweden as our country of choice with littlest Fuller and I heading to Goteborg, and a few days later heading to Stockholm with Lolly.

So trip one saw us landing in the middle of the countryside around Gothenburg on a scorching hot day on Wednesday afternoon.  Having taken this very journey last year with Lolly, I knew what to expect on arrival in the city centre.  Our plan was to walk down to the hotel, drop our bags, head off to the theme park before taking in a Swedish Superettan (2nd Division) game at the Valhalla Stadium – home to Gothenburg’s 3rd team – Orgryte.  We walked down passed the building site of the Gamla Stan – the new stadium that will be home to IFK Goteborg and GAIS when it is complete in December 2009.  The Ullevi stadium, still the biggest ground in the country and the preferred home of the national team is across the road from the new stadium and plans are still being drawn up for the future of the ground.  At the moment with two clubs sharing the ground it is used on a regular basis, although crowds are far from impressive.  The new stadium, with a capacity of just under 20,000 will be a much more intimate venue for football in the city, although it is undecided whether Orgryte will also move in.

We dropped our bags at our hotel before heading into Liseberg – Scandinavia’s biggest theme park.  Littlest Fuller had already decided to be brave and go on every ride she could – so we started with the biggest rollercoaster in the park, which soon changed her view!  The temperature had hit the other side of 30 degrees, and we had to limit our rides with drink breaks before heading back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon snooze.  Unbelievably, the hotel had no air conditioning – scandelous for a four star hotel and we had to rely on a small fan to try and keep us cool, not exactly ideal.  We needed a few provisions so we popped across the road to the supermarket.  I really object to paying silly money for mini bar beer, and as we were in Scandinavia the prices were Timmy Mallet silly – over £6 for a small car of beer, so I reasoned that I could get a couple in the supermarket and keep them cool in the fridge – WRONG! Sweden has the kind of alcohol purchase regulation that you get in countries like Saudi Arabia.  You simply cannot walk into a supermarket, pick up a four pack of Carlsberg and pay for it.  Oh no – you can only purchase beer from a licenced shop, and then it is only 3.5% or less, and even then you can only buy 4 cans per adult.  So I had to bite the bullet and stump up £6 for my luke warm can.  To make it worse I then fell asleep within 10 minutes, leaving the can on the window ledge.  40 minutes later Littlest Fuller woke me up and said my beer was smoking – the sun, magnified by the window had started to heat the beer so much that it had started to evaporate.

The Valhalla was a 5 minute walk from the hotel, and with an average 2nd division game due to start at 6pm we didn’t leave until 5.45pm.  The stadium certainly sounded busy when we walked along the road – very impressive for a club that normally average just over 1,000 fans.  Queues were stretching down the road, and it seemed that we had stumbled on a game that had some meaning – in fact, as my Swedish translation skills kicked in (OK – a bloke in front of me told me in English) that the game was a complete sell out – the first in over a decade at the Valhalla.  The reason was one of those stories that rarely reach the media – similar to Aston Villa’s last game of the season in May 2008 when they visited Upton Park to play West Ham when Oluf Mellburg was playing his last ever game for Villa.  In an amazing gesture he bought every single – yes over 3,500 fans – a replica shirt.  Yes – the shirts were going to be replaced, yes he probably got a discount but even if they cost him a £5 he stumped up over £17,000 out of his own pocket.  How many Premier League footballs would donate a 10th of that?  Anyway, back in Gothenburg and the reason for the huge crowd was that Marcus Allback, ex-Aston Villa and FC Kobenhavn striker had returned to Orgryte’s, his boyhood team to play a final season of his career FREE OF CHARGE.  He had signed a contract to play for the club for a share of the gate money and no salary. So the crowds, young and old, had come out on this sunny day to saw welcome back.  Great gesture, but where did it leave us?  In all of my years of watching football I had NEVER been “sold out” of a game.  Sure, I have had to buy tickets from touts, and on one occasion in Germany 2006 when Portugal played Iran I walked away from a game as opposed to paying the going rate of €250 a ticket.  With kick off approaching I had to make a decision.  There was no way I was going to miss a game where I had travelled so far – sure Littlest Fuller wasn’t too bothered, and we could have just headed up to the Ullevi where IFK were playing FC Basel at 8.15pm in the Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round, but I had come to visit the Valhalla, and that is what we were going to do.

So we moved next to the entrance gate, and I whisphered in Littlest Fuller’s eye – “If you start to cry then I will buy you candy floss when we go back to Liseberg”.  Right on queue she started, sobbing that she wanted to watch the football.  She almost ruined the pitch by saying – “Which teams are playing?” knowing full well I didn’t have a clue.  After 5 minutes I had a tap on my shoulder and a steward handed me a ticket, winked and opened a gate and we were in.  A brief stop for a pint of ice cold beer and a sausage and we took our seat in the main, and thankfully covered stand.  The game was a few minuted old before the home team took the lead, reading the bounce on the artifical pitch when all of the Jönköpings Södra IF  defenders were dithering.  With just 5 minutes on the clock Littlest Fuller was fast asleep.  She still doesn’t really get football and I had packed a bag with books and IPod loaded with a few children’s films for the anticipated boredom requests – however, the sleep meant I could concentrate on the game.  She ended up sleeping right through the game, including the half time break, waking up in injury time and upset that she had missed it all.  I didn’t want to push my luck in suggesting we went up the road for the IFK game, heading back to Liseberg instead.

However, I had a cunning plan to combine the two. In the theme park they had a huge tower, with a revolving passenger cab that slowly climbs up the structure, before revolving for a few minutes at the top giving some magnificent views over the city.  Armed with some of the promised candy floss for the Littlest Fuller we headed into the tower, and spent the next thirty minutes revolving at the top, walking around with the turn to watch the game in the Ullevi.  We were not alone as groups of men paced the same way, with their kids patiently sitting eating on the seats.

After a restless night of temperatures in the mid twenties and absolutely no breeze, we headed back to the airport on the farm and back to the UK for a few hours before I unpacked, repacked, put 2nd little Fuller in the car and returned to Ryanairland for the mid morning flight to Stockholm.  Of course, this being Ireland’s least customer (sorry, Self Loading Cargo) focused organisation we didn’t actually land in Stockholm.  We didn’t even land in the same region as Stockholm – in fact I had to check to make sure it was actually in Sweden and not in Norway.  Skavsta is close to the town of Nykoping some 65 miles south west of Stockholm and linked to the capital by a regular 90 minute bus.

I had already seen one of the guys I had travelled to Turkey with (see Turkish Delight – not bloody likely!) back in February and caught up with him on the bus.  He was with a couple of other chaps who were on a whistle stop groundhopping tour of some of the grounds in the area.  There was really only one game in town on the Sunday, and that was IF Hammarby’s home game at the Soderstadion, or so I thought.  These guys are dedicated and they had a list of matches in the Swedish 2nd, 3rd and 4th division that were within an hour of the capital.  They planned to get a 2pm and a 4pm game in before the Hammarby game.  They did ask if I wanted to accompany them, but I politely turned them down, stating that I had promised Lolly that we would do some “fun” things in the afternoon.  My plan was actually to go to the Olympic Stadion, home of Djurgarden to see if I could get some photos.  Nearly all of my dealings with Scandinavians is positive.  They return calls and emails promptly, and if they cannot help they point me in the direction of someone who can.  All except Djurgarden.  Last year I wrote and called them to see if they could let me have a photo of the stadium for my Fans Guide book.  At first they seemed helpful – “sorry, but we don’t actually have any available but what about if I take one for you myself and send it to you?” – Perfect I thought, but days turned to weeks and with a publishing deadline approaching I had to fall back on a poor quality image.  Before this trip I contacted the club asking if I could come and take some pictures.  No reply by the time I left so we headed up to the stadium as it was only 15 minutes from T-Centralen, the transport hub in the city.

Normally there is a 50% chance of getting into a stadium on a non-match day.  If you look hard enough there is normally an open gate where a groundsman has driven in and you can sneak in so I was relatively hopeful of at least getting some photos, despite the lack of a response from the club’s media officer.  We arrived at the stadium to see a number of people coming in and out of the stadium, following signs for the Nordic Classic.  The stadium was hosting a veterans tennis tournament featuring the likes of Chris Evett and Matts Wilander in a specially built stadium at the far end of the ground, which meant I had full access to take pictures to my hearts content, and more importantly they had bouncy castles and climbing walls for Lolly.  In fact it was hard to prise her away after half an hour, and she commented on what a wonderful surprise it had been for her – well planned I think!

We headed through the city centre to Globen, an area of the city also known as and 6 stops on the T-bana from the centre.  Globen is the name of the futuristic development consisting of a shopping centre, bars and restaurants, a hotel (where we were staying), the Soderstadion and the Globen Arena – the world’s largest spherical arena, and the main concert hall and indoor sports arena in the city.  We checked into the hotel, and Lolly was very pleased to see that the Ljungskile SK team were staying there – and she decided to support them.  Our hotel had an excellent view of the Globen, and the football stadium – it is always a rare treat to find a hotel so close to a football stadium where you can seek sanctuary until the last minute.  In the UK some of the newer football grounds include integrated hotels such as Bolton’s Reebok that has a few rooms overlooking the pitch (although you don’t actually get any crowd noise when you are in your room watching it) and West Ham’s which double as Executive boxes.  So 5 minutes later we were in the stadium, and fortunately under cover.  The stadium is a strange design, and there is talk of them moving to a new one closer to the heart of their support in Hammarby around 3 miles to the east.  It has one open end, with temporary seating, two single tier covered stands running along the side of the pitch and the final end that consists of 6 rows of seats with office buildings above.  With sky’s darkening all of the time it was inevitable that the game wouldn’t be rain free, and those in the temporary stand would be soaked.  Queue an operation of military precision by the stewards as they dished out free plastic ponchos to all of the fans.  And what made it even better was the standard of the stewards.  None of the English-style characters who either look like bored students, fat controllers or failed policeman – these were female, mostly blonde and absolutely stunning.  Worth the admission fee alone!

Meanwhile on the pitch 3rd placed Hammarby struggled to break down the low lying opposition from Ljunskile .  A goal against the run of play had put the away team into the lead mid way through the first half – in fact it was their one and only visit into the Hammarby penalty area.  The home team rained crosses into the penalty area for the remainder of the half, but failed to realise that in order to convert such crosses you actually need someone in the penalty area to convert them.  But the goal did come eventually and they went in at half time at 1-1.  The second half was more of the same, although my attention was drawn to the arrival of the riot police below us.  Not that there was any particular incident, but the fact that the six of them were all female, blonde again and looking as if they had walked off a porn shoot complete with handcuffs, truncheons and filty looks.  It wasn’t just me who had their attention diverted from the beautiful game, but most of the guys around me.  They seemed completely oblivious to the attention they were getting and it took a scrambled goal by Jonokoping to refocus our attention.

With 3 minutes of the 4 of injury time played we headed for the exit although with most of the home fans, but a huge cheer saw most run back up the stairs, causing complete chaos in the stairwell as fans tried to get a view on who had grabbed the equalizer.  You can see how some of the fateful incidents happen at football grounds in such circumstances, and this is still one area that legislation has not addressed.

We headed north, back into the city to go to the Katarina Lift, which is an old container crane that has been converted into a viewing platform and one of the best restaurants in the city.  The view from the top was fantastic in the light of the sunset, with storm clouds gathering over the city centre providing some excellent photo opportunities.  The forecast for the following day wasn’t good, and with rain starting to fall and hunger making its first appearance of the day, we headed back to the hotel for food and some Swedish Allo Allo on the TV.

The following day we were heading for Grona Lund – Stockholm’s amusement park based on the island of Djurgarden.  We headed across the water on one of the ferries in bright blue conditions dressed in our best summer T-shirts and shorts. Over the course of the next few hours we went on everything – whether it went up and down, side to side or back to front, we did it at least twice.  After lunch in the Bavarian restaurant (of course – when in Sweden, eat German) we headed off to the Vasa Museum to give Lolly some culture and to try and explain the reason why the World’s biggest ship in 1628 sank a hundred yards into its maiden voyage – I blamed it on using wood with woodworm which meant that water seeped in as soon as it went into the water as I couldnt really think of a logical answer.  At 5pm the rain started falling again.  We obviously were fully prepared for the weather in our t-shirts and shorts and could only head for cover under a tree. I had promised Lolly a surprise for the final part of the day – a trip to the Ice Bar in the Nordic Sea Hotel.  A great idea in the middle of the summer, but when its pouring with rain entering a sub zero room is probably not the best option.  However, Lolly was so excited and as soon as we put on our thermal ponchos and gloves we headed into the first, and most famous Ice Bar in the world.  With the rain continuing to fall overnight, turning a nice sunny day into one of the worst summer storms in the past decade for the capital, we took refuge in our hotel room, stocked up on episodes of On The Buses and pringles to while away the hours. 

Tuesday morning saw us board another bus, heading for Ryanair’s 2nd best attempt at an airport in Stockholm – Vasteras which is only 68 miles away, or 90 minutes by public transport.  This time the airport really was no more than a couple of big sheds, which was completely overrun by Scouts who had been on a jamboree in the local area.  The concept of priority queuing again went out of the window as the ground staff just boarded anyone they fancied first.  However, I did see a brand new tactic work.  We waited until last to board the plane, and thus there were only single seats remaining.  But, due to the rules on unaccompanied minors on Ryanair, we have to be sat together and so we still got two seats together and some poor person who had probably fought their way to the front had to move – oh well!  We landed on time (queue the appallingly back Ryanair fanfare music to announce the fact) but of course being British we have to tolerate the 45 minute queue to get back into our country.  It is amazing that the joke used to be about US Customs and the time it took to process new arrivals, yet in the UK it takes as long, and we do not have any form filling.  There should be a seperate queue for people holding a UK passport – that would cut down on the queues.  So my adventures with the little ones came to an end for another year.  Two games, four stadiums, two theme parks and god knows how much junk food and additives saw them deposited back to CMF, and me in the good books as a great Dad with children as cool as the Ice Bar in Stockholm.

Who Plays There – Gothenburg
IFK Göteborg’s city rivals are Örgryte IS who are one of the oldest teams in Sweden, tracing their origins back to 1892.  Despite their dominance of the game in the early years, they have been without success for a long time.  The club went unbeaten for more than four years in the final years of the 19th century, winning ten championships in just thirteen seasons up until 1909.  Since then a further championship in 1913 was their last honour until the championship returned in 1985.  In 2000 the team beat AIK in the final of the Swedish Cup final with Marcus Allbäck scoring on the way to a 2-1 victory.  Today the club languish back in the 2nd division after relegation in 2006 and are playing their matches at the small Valhalla stadium which is located behind the Ullevi.

How to get to the Ullevi and the Valhalla
The stadium is located no more than a five minute walk away from the central station and so public transport is really not needed.  From the station turn left onto Drottningtorget, then right once you get into the one way system.  When this road crosses Ullevigaten turn left and the stadium is 400metres on the right hand side.  You will pass the construction site of the new Ullevi stadium on the way.

Getting a ticket for the Ullevia and the Valhalla
With over 43,000 places available for each game, the chances of a sell out are very rare indeed in Swedish football.  Last season IFK averaged just over 10,000 per game, and Örgryte just 5,000.  Virtually all games played here (including the national team’s games) are pay on the door.  However, you can purchase tickets in advance from http://www.ticnet.se.  Tickets range in price from 90 SKR in the areas behind the goal to 125 SKR in the upper tiers along the side of the pitch.

Getting around Gothenborg
Göteborg has one of Europe’s best tram networks with 13 lines that cover the majority of the city.  The main hub is Well Park (Brunnsparken) where trams radiate out to every corner of the city.  Buses also run around the city from the Nils Ericsson bus terminal.  The Göteborgs Passet covers all public transport and attraction entry for 225 SKR per day.  The card is available from ticket machines at major stops and the Tourist Information Office at Kungsportsplatsen 2. 

Local Hotels & Bars in Gothenborg
Göteborg is a popular destination for Swedes and tourists alike all year round.  It is seen as one of the cultural capitals of Europe, although in the summer when the city opens up its beaches and parks it is a haven for the whole city to come outside and play.  Hotels can be in short supply in June and July, as well as major trade conference times.   The Tourist information office in Kungsportsplaten 2 (Tel:  +46 31 61 2500 ) can help if you need to find a bed for the night.  The following hotels are all central, good value and highly recommended.

Elite Plaza Hotel – Västra Hamngatan 3 Tel:  +46 31 720 4000   http://www.elite.se
Hotel
Gullbergskajen Tel:  +46 …  Hotel Panorama – Eklandagatan 51 Tel:  +46 … 
http://www.panorama.se Barken Viking –http://www.liseberg.se

Göteborg has some extremely ambitious restaurants, and prices can be high.  You will find a mix of traditional Swedish cuisine, fused with flavours from around the world (curried reindeer anyone?).  The following are recommended for any visitors wanting to get a feel for Swedish cuisine.

Etc – Kungsgatan 12 (Tel:  +46 31 13 2595 )
Kungstorgskafeet – Kungstorget 11 (Tel:  +46 31 12 7043 )
Hos Pelle – Djupedalsgatan2 (Tel:  +46 31 12 1031 )

If you are heading out to find some traditional Swedish nightlife then head for the area around Avenyn, or one of the following bars which serve a selection of Swedish beers and are very popular with the locals.

Ölhallen 7:an – Kungstorget 7
Bitter – Linnégatan 59
Sticky Fingers – Kaserntorget 3

If you need to get a fix of England or take in a match or two from the Premiership then the following three pubs in the city centre can cater for your needs.

The Bishops Arms – Kungsportsavenyn 36
The Rover – Andra Långgatan 12
Kellys – Andra Långgatan 28

Nearest Airport – Göteborg Landvetter (GOT)
Telephone:               +46 31 94 1000 
Website:                  http://www.lfv.se

The main airport serving Göteborg is located around 20km east of the city in the small town of Landvetter.  It served over 5million passengers in 2006 making it Sweden’s second biggest airport.  The airport is well served by UK airlines including City Airline from Birmingham and Manchester, SAS from London Heathrow as well as British Airways.  To reach the city centre from the airport catch one of the regular Flygbussarna buses that take 30 minutes to reach Göteborg Central Station.  A single ticket costs 80 SEK.

Alternative Airport – Göteborg City (GSE)
Telephone:               +46 31 92 6060 
Website:                  http://www.goteborgairport.se
Gothenburgs second airport is actually more central – located just 14km north west of the city centre.  Thanks to the arrival of Ryanair in 2005, passenger numbers rose from 10,000 to over 500,000 in one year.  The Irish carrier currently flies here daily from Dublin, London Stansted and Glasgow Prestwick.  A bus service meets every inbound flight and takes passengers to the main train station in 20 minutes.  Tickets cost 60SEK one way.

About the Stockholms Stadion
After a season playing at the national Råsunda stadium, Djurgarden returned back to the Stockholms stadium. The original idea of this switch was borne out of a disagreement on the ownership of the commercial revenues in the municipal owned stadium.  However, the team will still use the national stadium for the derby matches with AIK Solna, as well as Champions League matches (if they ever managed to get into the group stages).

The small Stockholms stadion is best known for being the venue of the 1912 Olympic Games.  Many of the unique features are still retained within the stadium – including the listed towers at the east end of the stadium.  Outside, the ivy-clad walls give the impression of a time gone by.  In fact the stadium today looks more like its 1912 original due to the renovation work that took place in the mid 1990’s.  This has been the club’s home since 1936, after moving from the Tranesberg Stadium.  The current ground still retains the athletics track, and is still used for all major track and field events.  The stadium consists of a horseshoe double tier stand, which sweeps around three sides of the stadium, leaving the historic Olympic stands still in existence.  The club actually started their playing history in the same area in 1896, with the previous ground, the Idottsparken their home until they moved to the Tranesberg Stadium in 1910. 

Who plays at the Stockholms Stadion
The club was originally formed in 1891, taking their name from the island in the city centre where the founders used to meet.  The club played in the lower leagues for a number of seasons before being allowed to compete in the national leagues.  In 1904, the club reached the Swedish Cup final where they lost to Örgryte.  The club did gain revenge over the team from Gothenburg eight years later in their next final appearance, thus becoming Swedish Champions for the first time.

The club won further championships in 1915, 1917 and 1920 but struggled to compete with the likes of Malmö and Göteborg.  In fact it took a further 35 years for the team to win the title again, in 1955 and then followed a golden period with four further cups in a period of 9 years.  After relegation to the second division in 1981, the club floundered for twenty years and even summer loan signing Teddy Sheringham couldn’t keep them in the top division for more than a season at a time. 

Finally in 2001, the team managed to find the right on field formula and at last deliver some success for the supporters when they finished second in the Allsvenskan.  The following year they went one better and were crowned champions, beating off the strong challenge of AIK and Göteborg.  They retained their crown in 2003 and won it in 2005 to underline their position as Sweden’s number one team.

The current team is built around young Swedish talent, with players such as Andreas Johansson and Daniel Sjölund who actually had spells with Liverpool and West Ham United and coached by Jonas Riedel.  Last season the team finished in a disappointing 6th place, and so the club will have to do without European football again in 2007. 

In fact European football still hasn’t been too kind to the club.  They first competed in the European Cup in 1955 when they actually reached the last eight before losing to Hibernians.  In 1964 they met Manchester United in the first round of the UEFA Cup and lost 7-2 on aggregate.  In fact after their win against Grasshoppers in the 2nd leg of their UEFA Cup game in 1965, the club had to wait ten years before they gained another victory, beating Kristiansand of Norway 7-1 in the 1975 UEFA Cup.  In 2002 they recorded their best performance to date in the UEFA Cup, reaching the third round after beating Shamrock Rovers and FC Copenhagen before going out 3-1 to Girondins de Bordeaux.

Their Champions League debut in 2002 lasted one round as they went out on away goals to Partizan Belgrade, and the following season a 6-3 defeat to Juventus prevented them reaching the lucrative group stages.  European games are  normally played at the national stadium in Solna.

How to get to the Stockholms Stadion
The ground is located close to the red T-bana stop at, surprisingly enough, Stadion.  It takes around 10 minutes from the central station in the direction of Morby Centrum.  As you exit the station follow the subway under the road and then continue for 100metres, then the stadium will be visible on your right. 

Getting a ticket for the Stockholms Stadion
The experiment of moving their matches to the much bigger Råsunda stadium only resulted in thousands of empty seats at each game.  Swedish football, like most of the football in Scandinavia comes a second in terms of popularity to Ice Hockey, and attendances for almost all domestic matches fail to generate the passion and atmosphere that exists elsewhere in Europe. 

Therefore, prebooking of seats really isn’t required.  Tickets can be booked from the ticket hotline on  +46 77 1707070  or http://www.ticnet.se.  The average attendance last year was just under 13,000 although as some of these games were held in the national stadium, the figures do not give a true reflection of the gates at the Stockholms stadium.  Tickets range from 150SEK for games at the Stockholms to 375SEK to the derby games with AIK and Hammarby.

About the The Söderstadion
The stadium has two almost identical covered stands that run the length of the pitch and offer protection from the elements. At the east end of the stadium there is a large open terrace, which is where you will find the hardcore fans. However, the most dominating feature of the stadium is the west stand. This stand is a small covered terrace but on top of this is a four-story structure, which includes offices, and residential apartments that overlook the pitch. The stadium was originally opened in 1966, and has recently been upgraded with the removal of a covered stand at the east end of the stadium, which was curved away from the pitch. The grey seats do give the ground a bland feel but Hammarby are one of the most passionate groups of fans in Sweden and so match days are very rarely as bland as the seats.

Who Plays at the Söderstadion
Hammarby have always been considered the third club of Stockholm. In terms of supporter base, history, trophies and current form they lag behind their inter city rivals, but that does not stop the games against Djurgarden and AIK being passionate affairs (in some instances such as the derby versus Djurgarden resulted in significant numbers of arrests after violence spread on the terraces). The first football team fielded by the club can be traced back to 1897 but amazingly it took until 1977 for the team to actually reach a major final when they lost to Östers 1-0 in the Swedish Cup Final. In 1983 they lost the final again in 1983 to IFK Gothenburg.

Since then their highlight of their history was in 2001 when they won the Allsvenskan for the one and only time in their history. This championship allowed them to compete in the European Champions League qualifying for the first time.  However, as with their rivals Djurgardens, the Second Qualifying round proved to be tougher than then thought and a 5-1 victory to Partizan Belgrade proved a fair reflection on the standard of Swedish football. This season the team has started indifferently with a mixed bag of results under coach Anders Linderoth that saw them in 6th place as at the end of September. Last season the club qualified for the Royal League, reaching the Quarter Finals before losing 3-2 on aggregate to eventual winners FC Copenhagen.

How to get to the Söderstadion
The Stadium is a 15minute train ride away on the green T-line from the central station. Exit the train at Globen and then turn right over the bridge and then left when you reach the t-junction in the pedestrian area.  For a more detailed overview of football in Stockholm go to Footiemap.com to access their excellent Swedish football map.

How to get a ticket to the Söderstadion
In terms of capacity, Hammarby fairs better than most with an average utilisation of close to 75%. However, they still only average just over 12,000 and with a season high last year of 14,700 you will not struggle to get a ticket on the day from anyone of the ticket booths around the ground. However, after the crowd trouble at the recent Stockholm derby versus Djurgarden caused the match to be abandoned. Tickets can be bought in advanced from the club shop at the ground and at the Globus Shopping Centre, Tickets can be reserved by emailing the club at biljett@hammarbyfotboll.se, or from the Swedish equivalent of ticketmaster at http://www.ticnet.se Tickets for all matches (except Malmo, Djurgarden and AIK) start from 60SEK for a place on the terrace, to 265SEK a nice covered seat. For the “A” list games the ticket prices start from 240SEK and rise to 500SEK.

Around the Söderstadion
The stadium is sandwiched between the main south railway line, the main road of Arenavägen and the Globus shopping centre. Therefore there are a number of places to stop and have a drink in the area.

Getting around Stockholm
Stockholm’s public transport is based on the metro and bus lines, combined with local boat services to the main islands.  In contrast to eating out, transport is cheap.  Single tickets are 40SEK, with a 24 hour card 60SEK.  Most of the city centre is walk able.

Local Hotels & Bars in Stockholm
Finding good, reasonably prices accommodation in Stockholm can often be a problem for those arriving without a reservation.  The tourist office is a good first stop in this instance.  As well as selling public transport tickets and being able to book sightseeing trips, they also have a hotel booking service.  Their address is Sverigehurst, Hamngatan 27 (Tel: +46 8 5082 8508 ), http://www.stockholmtown.com.  They also have a smaller office in the main railway station (T-Centralen), which is open from 9am Monday to Friday, and from 10am on a weekend.

Nordic Sea Hotel – Vasaplan 7 Tel:  +46 8 505 6300   http://www.nordicseahotel.se
Villa Kallhagen –
Djurgårdsbrunnsvägen 10 Tel:  +46 8 665 0300   http://www.kallhagen.se
Grand Hotel –
Södra Blasieholmshamnen Tel:  +46 8 679 3500   http://www.grandhotel.se

Stockholm has enough good restaurants to keep you happy for a long weekend, although it’s not a cheap place to eat or drink in.  The bar scene gets more widespread every year, with each new opening trying to out do each other.  The traditional part of the city for bars was Stureplan, but this has been replaced by the waterfront eateries of Gamla Stan.  The following bars and restaurants are all good in terms of food – but remember your wallet!

Bon Lloc – Regeringsgatan 111 (Tel: +49 660 60 60)
Spisa Hos Helena – Scheelegaten 18 (Tel:  +49 654 49 26 )
Villa Kallhagen – Djurgårdsbrunnsvägen  (Tel:  +49 665 0300 )

In terms of bars to watch Premiership football in, you will find loads around the old town.  The following Irish bars are guaranteed to show at least four games over the weekend live from the UK:-

The Foggy Drew – 39 Sveavågen
O’Learys Bar – Kungsholmsgaten 31
Galway‘s Irish Pub – Kungsgaten24

Nearest Airport – Arlanda Airport (ARN)
Telephone :              +46 8 797 0000 
Website:                  http://www.lfv.se

Arlanda is the main airport for Stockholm and is served by both British Airways and SAS flying from London Heathrow.  The airport is linked to the city centre by the Arlanda express train that runs from the terminal in less than 25 minutes every 15 minutes.  The train costs 360SEK for a return ticket.  A taxi would take around 45minutes and cost close to 500SEK.

Alternative Airport – Skavsta Airport (NYO)
Telephone:               +46 155 28 04 00 
Website:                  http://www.skavsta-air.se

Skavsta Airport is around 50 miles to the south west of Stockholm, close to the town of Nyopking.  Ryanair are expanding Skavsta as another European hub – although the local residents of the surrounding villages are not particularly happy about this.  Ryanair provide a bus to meet all incoming flights, which takes around 2 hours to reach the central bus station in Stockholm for 100SEK single or 150SEK return.  They currently fly there from London Stansted.

Alternative Airport – Västerås Airport (VST)
Telephone:               +46 21 80 56 00 
Website:                  http://www.vasterasflygplats.se

Västerås sits on Lake Mälaren an hour west of Stockholm.  The airport is around 10 miles out of town and is served by Ryanair from London Stansted.  There are two ways to reach Stockholm from here.  Firstly, catch a local bus to the main station and then hop on one of the regular trains to Stockholm.  The journey takes around an hour and a half to get into Stockholm main station.  The second option is to catch one of the buses that wait for all incoming flights, and take around 2 hours to reach Stockholm central bus station.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.