Saturday, June 02, 2012

Sweden & Norway May 2012

Six games in Sweden and Norway including the England international in Oslo and the derby between Norrkoping and Atvidabergs.

23rd May Norrkoping 2 Atvidabergs 2 15,715

I’d travelled via Ryanair to Gothenburg then drove from there to near Norrkoping.

In pleasant weather this early evening game in the Allsvenskan (top level) was played before a sellout crowd.
It’s the Ostgota derby and the visitors brought plenty of fans who were packed into a section of the open terrace behind the goal.
The home fans produced a flag display before the start.

The ground was a venue in the 1958 World Cup though it has obviously been updated since then.

In the match the home side again conceded goals, as they have done regularly for most of the season so far.
Top scorer Prodell slide in the opener for the visitors but flamboyant man-of -the-match Astrit Ajdarevic then shot in a fine equaliser after showing good control.

Late on substitute Nyman connected with a cross for what seemed like the winner but another sub Mattias Mete then shot in from a narrow angle after the home goalie had failed to clear for 2-2.

I travelled back to my hotel for a late weissbeer and some TV.

24th May Halmstads 2 Brommapojkarna 0 2,303 Superettan

From Norrkoping to near Halmstad where I stayed in a very quiet hotel near the forest about 20km outside of the city.
Halmstad itself has an attractive centre with an impressive old city gate and a good selection of bars and restaurants.
Again their ground was used in 1958 and it retains and old stand with terrace in front.

The ends were unused apart from a ‘corporate’ style tent area.

The home side edged the game scoring with a dubious penalty (the handball looked outside the area)
And finishing off with another late in the second half.

In temperatures of around 19 degrees and in mostly bright conditions there could be worse places than here.

I drove back to Nissastroms and strolled around the forest with a beer followed by some relaxed crazy golf.

26th May 4pm Grorud 3 Elverum 3 Norwegian 3rd level c.100

Into Norway and Oslo by Friday afternoon.

I stayed in a hotel attached to a large hospital at the end of one of the tram lines.

Hence it was easy enough to go into the centre of the city and stroll around in the sunshine.
Apart from the excessive costs Oslo was a very pleasant location to visit for an England international.

Grorud too is easily accessible via the metro.
A number of other English fans also made the trip.

The ground itself is basic with a few rows of terrace/seating and limited player facilities (the away side changed in their bus)
But in bright sunshine on an artificial pitch the teams served up six goals including a couple of penalties and an excellent effort from one of the home strikers.

8.45pm Norway 0 England 1 Oslo 21,496

Back in nice time to stroll to the Ullevaal and see the first game of the new Roy Hodgson era.

It was a win thanks to a Ashley Young goal early in the first half, after he’d been given too much space by the home defenders.

England won but it was against a limited Norwegian side.

But one encouraging factor for the future was that Hodgson was clearly prepared to vary the tactics, for instance with Young often playing ahead of Carroll.
Having a fleet footed striker playing off either a target man or Rooney looked promising.

England will come up against much better defending (and attacking) at the Euros and indeed against Belgium in the last home friendly before Ukraine.

As usual with these friendlies the game petered out in the second half not helped by the various substitutions.
In keeping with the relaxed environment we were not kept in at the end and I was back at the hotel by 11pm for some beer and conversation.

27th May Ljungskile 3 Assyriska 1 Superettan 728

Back into Sweden and a two night stop in Uddevalla.

Some twenty minutes away is Ljungskile a small village next to the fjord where the locals, on this Sunday afternoon, were painting their boats.
And perhaps basking in the glory of a Eurovision Song contest victory - again we beat Norway but nobody else.

This encounter felt fairly low key in a smallish ground a few kilometres away from the centre.

There were 20 or so away fans in part of the seats/terrace opposite the ‘main stand’.

Ex-Sittingbourne striker Kenny Pavey was the star man scoring a hat-trick for the home side.
Assyriska had the consolation of a nice combination goal finished by their captain Batan.

But Ljungskile generally had the match under control after two early goals.

I enjoyed a burger and a coke in very mild weather.

Back in Uddevalla, with the sun shimmering on the water, I walked past the riverfront area to a sports bar for a couple of glasses of red wine whilst watching an Argentinian league game.

28th May Sarpsborg ‘08 1 Baerum 0 Norwegian 1st division 2,527

Sarpsborg is just over the border & about 140km from Uddevalla.

The E6 was busy with Norwegians returning home and particularly slow in the diversion(s)
But I arrived in good time for this 6pm Monday night kick-off.

It was a decent turnout from the locals, many of whom had blue scarves or shirts.
Some two fans were in the small semi-temporary away section.

Sarpsborg ‘08 would go second after this win.

From the outset it looked like the home side would stroll to victory by about 5 or 6 goals as they cut through the Baerum defence with ease.
But they continued to spurn chances or had their efforts saved by the visiting goalie.

It took until the 80th minute before they broke through and even then it took two attempts by sub. Giaever to force the ball home.

Food this time was a waffle, snickers bar and a coke.
It seemed another friendly club where even the nine year olds can converse in english.
Back down the E6 I passed plenty of traffic going the other way and was back at the hotel before 10pm.

more pictures at

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