Malmö FF v Swansea City
Swedbank Stadion / Europa League / 8th August 2013
It is here! My #eurolostboyos trip was ready to go after a few weeks of planning. The Europa League draw would decide that Swansea’s conquest on the continent would begin in…Malmö! Sweden! After quick a peruse of flights it soon became clear that flying to Copenhagen would be easier (and cheaper) for me in Manchester and then crossing the Øresund Bridge into Malmö. So Copenhagen was allocated as our homebase for 6 joyous days of Scandinavian fun and games with plans also to attend games at Danish First Division club Brønshøj BK on the Saturday and the Superliga clash between FC Nordsjaelland v FC Copenhagen on the Sunday (blogs to follow shortly); but, firstly, and most importantly, Swansea in Europe.
The European party had begun on the Wednesday night, the day before the game in Malmö, in Copenhagen with many Swans fans also lodging in Copenhagen for the Euro adventure. The Dubliner, an Irish pub sat slap bang in the middle of Copenhagen, was a scene of bedlam as Swansea fans drunk, sung and danced in the square outside of it until the early hours of the morning. Soon a small crowd of locals had gathered around us to stare in bewilderment as we sung the name of their national hero, Michael Laudrup, loud and proud; I even got a few of the Copenhageners to join us in the singing and bouncing. The owner, a Swans supporting Dane, had even kindly put drink offers on – just the 35kr a beer (about £4 a pint), something I would learn over the coming days was relatively cheap when it comes to Copenhagen. The craziest thing we’d drunk all night though was earlier in the evening: Hipster Ale. I’d only bought it whilst we were having food because of its cool name and was suitably disappointed to find its small stature; yet the stuff nearly killed me – the heaviest stuff I’ve perhaps ever drunk! It certainly did the job for the night though.
Safe to say, the next morning Swansea fans were suitably hungover after partying into the early hours, but me and my fellow traveller Tom were up bright and early ready to make the short trip over to Malmö. We eventually navigated our way through the self-service ticket machine of Copenhagen Central and eventually to the correct train platform and soon we were shooting along to Malmö over the very impressive Øresund Bridge.
By the time we arrived in Malmo it was shortly after 10am and it seems Scandinavia are not too big on opening bars before 1pm. So instead me and Tom were left to have a cultural wander of the city in the pissing down rain. It has to be said that Malmö seemed a very pleasant and traditional city as we wandered through its parks and visited the cathedral. We even saw Malmö’s famous Twisting Tower, but both me and Tom agreed that it didn’t twist enough for our liking.
We also bumped into the Gigg family on several occasions on our walk – the family had been on the same flight to Copenhagen as us and they are now minor celebrities amongst the Swans fans for their appearance in the now legendary Swansea documentary The Fall and Rise of Swansea City (if you’ve somehow not seen it yet, the whole thing is on YouTube here – it is brilliant!). I was a bit worried that the family might think we were stalking them so we let them be.
By chance, we then randomly stumbled upon the Williams family along with Kalvin and with them and with the bars now opening we headed to Lilla Torg – the square it seemed that pretty much all 900 odd Swansea fans would be hitting for the day. Lilla Torg is an old style town square but completely enveloped by bars. However, the Drumbar stood out far more than the others thanks to the numerous Swansea-related flags and banners adorning it!
I was greeted to the pub by shout of “It’s Lost Boyos!” as Steve Pearce and his gang had arrived; I feel they deserve a special mention as they had driven from Aberdare all the way to Sweden. Great effort! We headed into the pub – incidentally a Scottish pub – which was also kindly selling beer at a discount to the Swansea fans. With no familiar beers on tap the Scottish barman talked me through each lager and soon I had two pints of Abro in my hand for 98kr – I worked out that the 49kr a beer was about £6 a pint! Nevermind though, the Swansea fans still drunk it all!
We headed back out the front of the pub to enjoy the fresh Swedish air and to listen to Steve and the gang regale us with their tales from their car journey from across Europe starting at Aberdare and finishing in Malmö. We were also joined by Abi (the famous @swansabi it seems) and Nic Grey, who we spent much of the afternoon drinking with and who were great company,
It didn’t take long for the singing to start with the beer now very much flowing and the locals of Malmö looking on in part bemusement, part horror as the Swans songbook got a proper airing. One Swansea fan felt we were lacking something and came to the front of the bar and told us all to be quiet before saying:
“Right, lets remember that we’re out here representing Wales. So, the Welsh national anthem – everybody stand up. I’ll start us off”
We delivered a highly passionate rendition of what is clearly the greatest national anthem that there is and now some of the locals were even clapping us. However, the number of Swansea fans outside the small beer garden was now spilling into the square so we were all directed to the large courtyard housed behind the pub to carry on the party. Then little Iestyn (who looked like my young apprentice for the day complete with the flat cap)informed me that I was to look after him for a short while as his parents had headed back to the hotel; I’d already spouted a lot of drunken nonsense to the kid earlier in the day and I was beginning to worry that I was becoming a bad influence on that kid! Although, fairplay to him, he’s clearly very wise for an 11-year old as during certain points of the day he began offering me random life advice.
The courtyard at the back was now rammed and the party was beginning to get even more raucous, thanks to the bar positioned outside with us. Soon the singing was back in full swing again and the place was rocking; me and Daf were even trying to get the resident Asian chef of the pub to join in by teaching him the words to some Swansea songs. The loudest singing was triggered by the sound system blasting out the Swansea City song with one line in the song in particular being belted out by the Jack Army:
“And once again all Europe will hear the Swansea City sound!”
I can’t put into words properly how much fun we had that afternoon in the Drumbar and I’m sure a large part of it was to do with how drunk the Jack Army were; in fact, I don’t think I’d seen our fans so drunk before! It really was a blast though.
It was almost a let down when the police showed up later in the evening to escort us to the ground – I’d almost forgotten we had a game to go to! Also fairplay to the Swedish police for being very friendly and not the slightest bit heavy-handed. The 30 minute walk (I think that was how long it was anyway – the memory starts fading here) was a parade of drunken singing, but the police were even having a giggle – no doubt at the state on half of us. Swedish TV were also out in force filming the fans marching through the streets of Malmö.
Eventually after walking through the park we arrived at Malmö’s old ground, the originally named Malmö Stadion. The Malmö Stadion looked like a great, classic style Scandinavian stadium with the curving stands and running track. The ground was built for the 1958 World Cup and was home to Malmö until 2008 and throughout the most successful period of their history where they won numerous titles during the 1970s and 1980s (with a bit of help from Roy Hodgson).
Directly next door to the Malmö Stadion is the new home of the club: the Swedbank Stadion. The ground has been the abode of Malmö FF since 2009 and can hold 24,000 for league games. The ground has a standing terrace for 6,000 fans but they are not allowed to use it in UEFA competitions and instead seating is brought in which drops the capacity down to 21,000. I later learned that the club has its own fanzone area on the other side of the stadium to our entrance, but obviously the Swans fans were not exactly welcome there. This also explained why I had not seen a single Malmö fan all day, as I’m assuming the majority enjoyed their prematch drinks and entertainment at the stadium itself.
From the outside I thought the ground looked a bit like a more space-age Liberty Stadium with similar spike-esque things jutting out into the evening sky – it was a cool looking ground though, especially for a new build.
Just before we entered the ground me and Iestyn were stopped by a Swedish TV crew – clearly impressed with our fashionable hats. The 11-year-old Iestyn spoke a lot of sense about Wilfried Bony whilst I drunkenly bumbled on about being confident about the result and probably something to do with Jonjo Shelvey. I’ve not seen the interview, but I’m fairly sure that me and Iest must now be Scandinavia’s Welsh Ant & Dec.
Following me probably making a dick of myself on Swedish TV, it was onwards into the ground (our tickets cost £15 for those interested) via the steps leading up into it. The concourse was spacious enough with a few food and drink outlets ready to keep the Jack Army fed and watered. No pies here, but they do a love a good sausage in Sweden it seems.
And now this is where I need to highlight my favourite feature of watching football overseas: drinking in the stands! You could actually take your pint into the stands! Brilliant! On going up into the stands I even noticed that the stewards were turning a blind eye to people smoking; the stewarding was great actually as they were clearly out in force, but not to hinder us at all. It baffles me why we can’t get this right in this country; even though we were drinking in the stands and standing up, no-one was causing any trouble and we were all there just to have fun – take note UK football clubs.
The ground itself is all-enclosed with three of the stands being standard two-tiered stands. – the Swans fans were housed on the two-tiered E-On Stand behind the one goal. The more unusual stand, the Carlsberg, is directly opposite behind the other goal and this is where the more hardcore and vocal Malmö fans stand. The unusual aspect of it comes from that as well as having a hefty standing terrace (not in use for tonight’s UEFA competition game), a large building is housed directly above it with large glass windows looking out onto the pitch; I later learned that on the other side of the glass is a series of conference rooms as well as 2,000-capacity restaurant/bar called “Restaurang 1910” – fancy indeed. I also discovered that the small seated corner next to the Carlsberg Stand is named ‘Roy’s Corner’ in ode to their former manager Roy Hodgson who brought a lot of success to the club in the 1980s; the opposite corner is called ‘Bob’s Corner’ in honour of Bob Houghton, the English manager who was equally successful during the 1970s.
Soon enough the players were out and the game was about to start. I spent a few moments before kick-off trying to wake up Tom who was out of it next to me, before realising I was fighting a losing battle. He did come through though shortlyafter kick off.
The Malmö fans on the opposite stand were preparing for kick off with a sing-song of their own along with an impressive parade of blue and white scarf and flag wielding. The Jack Army would have to be loud to get heard over them.
With Swansea already 4-0 up from the first leg it was predictable that Laudrup would rest players and give others a chance with 7 changes made.
Soon the game kicked off and Malmö started well and even came close to scoring in the second minute, but the game soon settled into a fairly uneventful affair on the pitch.
Michu had a half chance when his stretching effort from a tight angle was smothered by the Malmö keeper, but Swansea’s best chance would fall to Routledge who was played through on goal by an excellent pass from Jose Canas, only for his right-footed flick to clip the outside of the far post.
Shortly after Bony had the ball in the net with a casual left foot tap in through the keeper’s legs, but his run through on goal was adjudged to be offside (although having watched it back since I’ve arrived back home it appears that he was onside).
Half-time Malmo 0-0 Swansea.
I made a quick nip down to the concourse half-time to get some more beers to take up in stands with us ready for the second half and soon we were back underway.
There was very little to mention in the second half. Michu was maybe close to seeing red after he’d already been cautioned in the first half for a lunging tackle from behind and then committed a couple more suspect fouls in the second half. Laudrup sensibly subbed the Spaniard following the incident.
The Jack Army were in much better voice in the second half with several renditions of the compulsory ‘Hymns and Arias’ but my favourite chant of the evening had to be:
“Swansea’s a shit hole – can we stay here?”
The game ebbed out and the game finished goalless with Swansea having done all their damage to the Swedes in the first leg 4-0 drubbing.
After a mix up with Tom after the game where I completely lost him, I began the long walk back to the Drumbar with the Jack Army. I’m not sure if the alcohol was now truly taking its toll but the walk back seemed a hell of a lot longer than earlier! Anyway, after eventually getting through to Tom, who it’d turned out had got a taxi back from the ground back to Lilla Torg with Adam and Griff – the two Swansea lads who were staying in the same hostel as us in Copenhagen, I arrived back at the Drumbar and I found a pint already waiting for me.
A good couple of hours was spent there carrying on the Euro party and it seemed like a lot of Swans fan had come back here following the game. With more Abro consumed we thought we better say farewell to the city of Malmö and head back to the train station. We had noticed on the way over to Malmö and on the trains in Copenhagen that no-one had checked our tickets at all leading Tom to mischievously suggest that we not bother buying a train ticket – I voted against the idea.
We were joined on the train by our fellow hostel-dwellers Adam and Griff, who were as equally inebriated as most other Jacks (apparently Adam had even featured on ITV4’s coverage looking particularly out of it he proudly stated).
Soon we were told to get out of the first class area of the train (we didn’t realise we were in first class), before a lady came around to check our tickets; I knew it was a good idea to buy tickets. However, it may have been wise to not lose mine! By the time ticket lady had realised I didn’t have it we were pulling into the last stop before crossing the bridge back into Denmark and soon she was demanding I get off the train. With little choice, I had to.
It turned out we were right on the outskirts of Malmö in a place called Hyllie. Absolutely barren. Nothing there and we had almost an hour to wait for the next train to Copenhagen. Soon we were joined by the only other person we saw in Hyllie, a strange Danish man who was probably the only Dane we met all week who couldn’t speak good English. Anyway, despite the language barriers he seemed to find everything we said or did funny and he happily sat with us whilst we waited for the train. Finally, shortly before 2am with me definitely having my ticket this time, we were crossing back over the sea and back into Denmark.
This has genuinely been one of the toughest blogs I’ve had to write thanks solely to the fact that I’ve had to try to piece the whole day together from my photos and from what was left of my drunken memories. I will say though – what a day! The Jack Army were on superb form and there was a really party atmosphere to the whole day, even if the game was fairly crap. I could get used to this European football malarkey!
Highlights: the Jacks partying in the Dubliner in Copenhagen the night before the game, Malmö – a pleasant and nice city, the Drumbar was superb and the whole day spent there with all the Jacks, me and Iest’s Swedish TV appearance, decent ground.
Low Points: expensive beer, not a great game, getting thrown off the train in bloody Hyllie!