Ny grund , samma historie

For those of you who slept through O-Level Swedish (showing my age there – anyone under the age of 30 will assume O-levels are services offered by call girls and escorts)  you may not know that the above means “New ground, same story” and that sums up the history of Malmo FF in recent times.  Last season they looked like they may break the mid table mediocrity for a period in the summer, but in the end 6th place was a disappointment.  I had visited the lovely little town on the other side of the bridge from Copenhagen twice before (See my posts from last season here and there ) but since then they had built a spanking new stadium, and sold the naming rights accordingly.

The city is a favourite of mine and with the sun shining it was a perfect after work destination.  Paul Kilduff in his very funny book “Ruinair” (available from all good bookshops and Amazon) sums it up by saying “The Swedish Government must pay citizens to walk around their cities looking cool and attractive.  Everyone here strolls.  No one is in a hurry.  No one needs to wear a suit.  No one has a meeting to het to.  No one seems to work.  Many Swedes retire at the age of twenty five to work full time on their image and grooming.”

There is very little I can write about Malmo and the Swedes that hasn’t been mentioned before.  The Scandinavians as a whole are a great bunch but put them all together and they get a bit bitchy.  I asked my Facebook chums to give me some ideas for this post and why they like Sweden.  So I present to you the top 15 reasons for loving Sweden based on my circle of friends perceptions:-

1. They think that Ikea is their “home in the countryside” – but not on a weekend or bank holiday (also avoid the 99p breakfast as it is rank);

2. They wait for every red pedestrian crossing light to change to green even if there hasn’t been any cars passing for days, or the road has actually been closed;

3. They are racked with guilt for days if they put a bit of rubbish in the wrong recycling bin;

4. The Eurovision Song Contest is the nearest they get to armed combat and defeat to local neighbours (such as this year’s when Norway ran away with it) can topple governments;

5. They consider it normal to make a trip to a special government store that is only open in daylight hours (so essentially closed for 3 months of the year!) to buy a bottle of wine, and frown on those who go to supermarkets such as “Eastenders”;

6. They would never ever board any type of public transport without a valid ticket, even though the Government has made all ticket inspectors redundant because nobody ever flauts this rule;

7. There are less blondes who are really Swedes in Sweden than there is in Essex;

8. You consider it perfectly normal to get wasted and dance around a giant penis symbol in the ground every summer;

9. They have not got a clue what a Swedish Massage is.  If you ever end up in a situation where you are asked “what can I do for you?” never ask for one as it will almost certainly end in serious pain;

10. Apparently a direct translation of the word “vegetables” means “green things”;

11. The two political parties in the 18th century were called “hats” and the “beanies”…bet they didn’t fiddle their expenses!

12. Swedes used to drive on the left hand side of the road like us Brits until 5am on the 3rd September 1967…

13. The tallest residential building in the European Union can be found in Malmo (apparently) and is called the Turning Torso.  The apartments are the most sort after properties in Sweden simply because very few are ever put up for sale.

14. Is an apt number as there have been 14 different songs by Swedish artists that have reached number one in the UK single charts….Abba provided 9 so who provided the rest?  For the answer click here.

15. And finally, they do not understand the concept of “going for a quick beer”.  They either drink to get seriously drunk, or they are driving;

The Swedbank Stadion was constructed in the “back yard” of the old ground (quite literally) and opened to a great fanfar in April 2009 when the visitors were Orgryte.  The crowd that day was 23,347 proving that the club could still attract a decent support.  Since then, crowds have fallen back to the level they saw at the old stadium, which is a disappointment, and the team have yet to find their feet, coming into this game in 6th place some 5 points behind leaders Elfsborg.

Everyone seemed to be on their bike for this one.  Arriving at the Central Station with thirty minutes to go before kick off I expected hordes of Swedes on the beer waiting around for buses to the stadium.  Instead I found dozens of beautiful people stripped down and ready for a bit of sunbathing.  There was no football fans around, yet shuttle buses had been laid on.  It became apparent when the Green buses, both in terms of the actual colour and the environmental aspect (you can check your emissions for the journey on the Malmo transportations website and what you can do to offset it!) arrived at the old stadium and you were nearly run over by the thousands of bicycles descending on the ground.

And what a (building) site it was.  Nothing on the outside of the stadium has been finished.  With just three weeks until the start of the UEFA Under 21’s tournament when Sweden take on Belarus here there needs to be some serious work put in as well as major overtime to get the area around the stadium ready.  Holes, exposed cabling, bricks and sand all added to the impression of a South African World Cup stadium.

Inside it was a different story.  Everything was ready although the idea of having 1 person with a bar code scanner on a gate does leave them open for the “English 5 minutes before kick off rush”.  Inside I headed straight for the bar for a not so cheap but well deserved beer.  As you will remember from my previous visits you will know that the beer was unacoholic which was ok, but they had changed the rules to stop people drinking in sight of the pitch for some really strange reason.

The stadium has certainly been designed differently.  They could have gone to “Stadiums ‘r’ us” and bought the plans for St Mary’s, Walkers Stadium, The New Den etc but instead have gone for something a bit different.  The Arena was two tier on three sides, with the lower tier being much bigger than the upper version.  Behind the north goal was the terrace, and home of the Malmo hardcore fans.  Instead of two tiers there was one steep set of terrace steps, topped off by some offices that overlooked the pitch.  The fans congregated here, enjoying the warm evening sunshine.

Malmo FF 0 Orebro 0 – The Swedbank Stadion – Wednesday 20th May 2009 7pm

The Swedbank Stadion
The Swedbank Stadion

So what can I say?  The scoreline sums up the game and most of the 12,166 people in the stadium would have had a nice snooze in the sunshine by the time the referee blew for full time.  Chances were few and far between once the game kicked off and it had the feeling of a pre-season friendly.  So what could I tell you about the game?  Well for starters the game had the smallest linesman ever.  He was so small that the corner flags towered over him when he stood there.

The other interesting one was the sponsorship options displayed from Orebro.  On the bums of their shorts they had NA clearly displayed.  When I showed the picture to CMF later she immediately said “nice ass” although I am not sure she was referring to what the letters stood for or the actual players “assets”.

So there we go – a lovely sunny day, surrounded by lovely people spoilt by a dull game of football.  New ground, same story!

About the Swedbank Stadion
Built at a cost of 580SEK (around £48m) the new 24,000 seater Malmo stadium will proudly open and close the UEFA Under21’s championships this summer.  It looks very similar to the new Gamla Ullevi in Goteborg which in turn took its inspiration from the Brondby stadium across the water.   However, the unique feature is the single tier of terracing behind the north end where the Malmo fans congregate.  The concourses are wide and refreshments are available freely.

How to get to the Swedbank Stadion
The new stadium is located behind the old one in the south of the city.  Shuttle buses run from the station from two hours before the game, and wait outside after.  Alternatively it is a 30 minute walk through the park to the stadium, or Bus Line 3 which takes around 20 minutes.  Or of course you could do what the locals do and cycle!

Getting a ticket for the Swedbank Stadion
Tickets can be bought and printed at home fromTicnet which is the Swedish arm of Ticketmaster.  Ticket prices range from 80SEK (around £7) for a standing place on the Falcon terrace, 180SEK (£15) for a seat in the lower tiers of the PEAB and South stands to 250SEK (£21) for the best seat in the house in the upper tiers.  They can also be purchased on the day of the game from branches of Swedbank in and around Malmo and the ticket office at the stadium.  So far since opening the club have averaged 16,000 with a sell out in their first ever game here.  Therefore tickets for the majority of games are available on the door.

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