Still England’s finest export


We think Kenny Pavey is the best English player currently playing outside of these shores.  Whenever we are in Sweden we try and make time for him, simply because he is a really nice bloke.  After my trip over to the Stockholm derby I asked Andy Hudson, our expert on Swedish football, and author of the excellent website Blågul Football to meet up with Kenny when he was next over in Stockholm.  Over to you Andy.

Pavey thanks to Robert Henriksson

I’ve been involved in many great situations since I started writing about football, but one stands out. It’s June 26 2011 and I’m sitting in O’Leary’s, a bar in Örebro. I’ve just ordered another beer, my fifth of the day, and AIK have won 2-1 away to Trelleborg. The only people celebrating as Teteh Bangura struck the winner in the 77th minute were me and a friend, in stark contrast to our protests when AIK wrongly had a goal disallowed in the first half; the other lads with us are still fuming about the ÖSK loss earlier. I fire off a text message and then there’s a look of disbelief from around the table as I read out the reply. My AIK supporting friend, the person to blame for the amount of time I spend talking about AIK; the person to blame for me checking the internet for the latest news; the person to blame for me listening to Swedish radio coverage of games whenever I can, can’t believe it. Kenny Pavey, ‘scorer’ of the disallowed goal, has replied. The same Kenny Pavey who can also happily be blamed for my AIK lust.

An infectious smile comes across the face of every AIK fan when I mention one name: Kenny Pavey – crowd favourite, idol of the North Stand, legend. If you wanted a definition of a whole-hearted, passionate player then I would give you Kenny Pavey. But he isn’t an English clogger, this guy has skill to go with the tough tackling. Continue reading

Stockholm Syndrome


What is the biggest match in football around the world?  Many will say Real Madrid v Barcelona, others AC v Inter whilst some of a more continental persuasion will go for the Boca v River Plate game in Argentina.  But what is clear that in most domestic leagues the biggest game tends to be the local derbies.  In fact Spain (and to an extent, France) is the exception in that the biggest game is not a inter-city derby.

Germany has all of the passion (and spite) of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke as well as a new rivalry, played for the first time this season in Hertha v Union Berlin.  Italy has the Rome, Milan, Turin and Genoa variations.  Portugal has Sporting v Benfica derby played between the Lisbon sides and then of course there is the Old Firm in Scotland.  Childhood friends grow up enemies based on the teams they support, families are split in two over their allegiances.

Parken on fire again

During the past few years I have been lucky enough to experience a few such games.  Internazionale 0 AC 6 will always rank up there in my most treasured footballing memories, as will the rampant destruction of Parken, home to FC Copenhagen by Brondby IF fans in one of the fastest growing inter-city rivalries.  But one game I had always wanted to see was the Stockholm derby between Djurgården IF and AIK.

Djurgårdens IF and AIK were both founded in 1891 separated by just a month apart and both are originally from the Northern part of Stockholm.  Today they are almost in different towns with AIK based in Solna, to the north of the city centre and Djurgården in the district of Östermalm. They are also historically two of the biggest and most successful clubs in Sweden, with 11 League titles each. The Djurgården vs AIK rivalry is considered by far the biggest rivalry in Sweden and maybe even the whole of Scandinavia because of its rich history and the huge animosity between the two clubs and both sets of fans with the Järnkaminerna or Blue Saints of Djurgården on one side and the notorious Black Army of AIK on the other.  With this being the first game of the season for both teams, it was guaranteed to be a cracker in terms of atmosphere. Continue reading

The quickest penalty of all time?


The 18 May 1946 is not a day that many will remember as being well known for anything.  If you are old enough to remember, then President Truman gave a televised speech announcing the end of the railroad strike in America and that is probably it, unless you were a resident in the small town of Ängelholm in south west Sweden.

On that night, in a small forest on the outskirts of the town a UFO landed.  The Swedes aren’t known for their strange beliefs such as other nations (Trolls for instance in other more northerly areas) so it was hard to put this down to a flight of fancy, especially as it was seen by a chap called Gösta Carlsson, a famous Swedish ice hockey player at the time.  Gösta claimed that the aliens landed and then passed him some secrets that enabled him to set up a successful natural therapy company.  A bit like an extra-terrestrial Herbalife then.  There is a monument in the forest clearing where the incident was alleged to have taken place which makes it the one of the biggest tourist draws in the area.

The town itself is better known for us younger people as one of the best surfing beaches in the Nordics.  People come from hundreds of miles away to enjoy the wide sandy beach and the strong currents.  It is certainly a nice looking place – free from litter and well kept lawns, and lots of very bronzed Swedes cycling around.

But I was not here for the UFO watching or the wind surfing.  Of course I was here for football.  Ängelholms FF are your typical provincial Swedish football team.  Happy to sit in the mid-table of the second division, occasionally upsetting one of the big boys in a cup and even rarer pushing for a promotion spot.  They have ambition though, and the club have stated that 2011 is their target date to reach the Allsvenskan for the first time.  This season has started well for them.  A 3-2 win on the opening day against favourites Hammarby in front of over 3,000 set them up well, but since then it has been a disappointing series of draws mixed in the occasional defeats.  In their last home game the crowd dropped down to just over 300 which must be a real concern for the club. Continue reading

England’s finest export


Question: Who is the most successful English player currently playing abroad based on trophies won?

Most people would undoubtably plump for Mr Beckham at this point but they would be wrong.  Leytonstone’s finest has only won the La Liga title since leaving Manchester United despite the glory that always surrounds him.

The Answer is Kenneth Steven Pavey.  Who you may say, but I can assure you that Kenny is a true living and breathing legend in his surroundings and will be plying his trade in the Champions League come August time – yes a real Englishman in the Champions League (take note Arsenal!) when AIK, Sweden’s treble winners in 2008 take their place amongst Europe’s elite.

So how did Pavey come to be plying his trade in a land best known for IKEA, Volvo and long long summer nights.  Pavey made his debut at his local club Affenley FC in South East London before moving to his boyhood favourite club Millwall FC as a schoolboy.  Unfortunately the dream of playing for the Lions didn’t come through and so he moved down the A2 to Rymans League club Sittingbourne where he made his debut in one of the most progressive non-league clubs around.  So progressive that he almost found himself on his way to Aston Villa where he seemed to have impressed when on trial in 1998 but the clubs could not agree on a fee and just a few seasons later he was catapulted into the world of Swedish second division football. Continue reading