Sweden is a nation that we at PDM are fairly familiar, although our knowledge and coverage on the sportingl front is sadly lacking. Recently Swedish Groundhopper, Peter Åhlen has been in contact with us at PDM on Twitter and has been kind enough to share with us a couple of photo's to show us what we're missing by not heading north. So, without further ado, here are some snaps of Swedish games, including lots of Pyro! Follow Peter on Twitter: @Peterhlen
I'm not going to go all cliché and nostalgic here about 2013 will be a year to remember, onwards to 2014 blah blah blah, rather I'm going to say it as I see it. It's been a year where I've done some grounds I loved, and some grounds I didn't love, but that's to be expected given the 'obscene' amount of football we watch in any given year. This 'hopping year started in Newport accompanied by some well known people in the EFW world and ended in Retie in familiar surroundings for us here at PDM. Over the year I've met many a people, and become good friends with many of them, Personally it was a landmark year for myself, at aged 17, I surpassed the 300 football ground mark with these scores not out:
Ground Total: 368 (309 football)
New Grounds 2013: 57 (54 football)
Grounds Revisited 2013: 30 (29 football)
Games total 2013: Approx: ~135
January was an easy decision, for myself at least, even if it came right at the end as we headed to Millwall before Middlesbrough in a Historic 4th round game against Middlesbrough. While trips to Millwall and Middlesbrough may seem daft to some reading, I have reasoning!
The Weekend started with us getting the train to Bermondsey to see the Wall take on Villa in their 4th round match, and at this game we grew more and more to the home fans, one's that have a less than savoury reputation, and for good reasoning in years gone by. Walking to the ground we felt a sense of unity, an attitude of 'we're Millwall, f*ck everyone else' this followed into the ground, for one of those special nights in the FA Cup. The atmosphere was top class, as was the game, as the home side beat their championship opposition.
An early start the next day, and it was in the mini-bus we went, for a journey that seemed to take hours. Again, it was a sense of the FA Cup isn't dead, as a hoard of Aldershot fans descended on the North East for this historic game. In the rounds prior we'd overcome; Hendon, Fleetwood and Rotherham to set up this draw, marking the furthest we'd been in the competition as the new club. While conceding the goal in the 96th minute was heartbreaking, it was an experiance I'll never forget. Particularly the moments after Danny Hylton's equaliser.
February always means one thing; Phil's birthday. When it comes around what better way to celebrate than in the freezing cold watching Bundesliga football? Step forward Mainz.This is the stand out in a rather poor month, football wise, due to the snow and the blimp before the game! It's certainly one of the better new build grounds we've been to, as I experienced standing on a terrace at top flight game for the first time. After the game was bizarre watching people trudge off through the fields in the middle of a snowstorm, seemingly going no where.
March will go on record as being the first time we have ever been evacuated from a ground. Wheldon Road, home of Castleford Tigers, was a ground we'd been planning to visit for quite a while and what better trip than against local rivals Wakefield. With a full(ish) ground, the game was a bit of an Anti-Climax as the hosts were simply outplayed.
With about 10 minutes left on the clock we noticed a load of rushing around, with Stewards all over the place. It was then that we were moved from our spot from the game, into a terrace behind the goal, with the game abandoned. It turned out that someone thought the floodlight was on fire, or something to that effect, although the result stood due to how little time remained. A bizarre day.
April provided one on the lowlights of 2013, as in Rotherham I witnessed a day in which there was a complete contrast in emotions. A 2-0 win for the home side meant that they'd gained promotion to League One, meanwhile the 250 of us in the away end saw our side relegated to Non-League football. The events of that day were to prove more significant than one could first realise, as over the summer the clubs whole existence of our club hung in the balance.
May was rather quiet on the ground hopping front, with Magic Weekend being my favourite moment. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a weekend whereby all the clubs in Super League play at one venue over a weekend. We'd only see the first day, but took in; Catalan v Broncos, Cas v Wakefield and the Hull Derby. Special mention goes to the Warrington fans who were the loudest the whole time we were there, despite them not even playing!
In June I didn't see a game, so I'll skip forward to July, with the highlight coming in Wattenscheid. As Regular readers know, KFC Uerdingen are my adopted German team, and as such I snapped at the chance to see them play in their first game following promotion. What a crazy day it turned out to be.
The journey there was anything but smooth, with the trains not crossing the border due to someone forgetting to sign a bit of paper. As such we had to hop onto a bus, meaning we missed our connection. After frantic running around in Duisburg and Essen, with no help being present, we found ourselves finally onto the way to Wattenscheid. After joining the packed away end, we saw Blau-Rot pick up an important win, only to have the points taken off them for fielding an ineligible player.
On the way back, all of us wanting the Hbf were rammed into buses and given a police escort, and experience in itself. Imagine our surprise when getting off the bus to bump into Kenny and Stoffers whom we joined back to Venlo station, where they went to watch VVV.
August is always a good time of year, with the season finally starting, but my moment of the come is more of a long running thing. It was an FAC game, and the subsequent replay between Flackwell Heath and Binfield that would spark my growing love of the Hellenic Leagues and Binfield FC. Over the course of this season I've seen them play numerous more times, both home and away. A friendlier and more welcoming club, you'd struggle to find. It's no wonder you'd struggle to find someone with a bad word to say about them.
The Grounhopping continued into September with my first trip of the season into London to watch Wingate & Finchley. I might sound nerdy for this, but I love getting trains into London and getting the Underground. Waiting for me the other end, on this Sunday afternoon, was a wonderful Non-League ground. The main stand, set back behind shrubbery, lays claim to being the oldest Cantilever structure in British football. It's just a shame that the game wasn't very good.
The highlight for October chooses itself. Our trip to Zurich came after a tongue in cheek suggestion from myself, the result is memories that will stick with me for a long time to come. The journey down was long, and the City Centre dead. So quiet was it, you wouldn't have believed us if we said we were there for one of Switzerlands most vociferous games, between Grasshopper Club and FC Zurich.
This continued right up until kick off when BANG. Fireworks, flares, Smoke Bombs, you name it. The game took the back seat as we stood in awe at the show the two sets of fans were putting on. The bizarreness continued after as the two sets of fans left in silence. A derby you must visit.
The drive back was also enjoyable, stopping in wonderful Freiburg, and going through the Black Forest. We have plans to return for a game in 2014.
November was the month that I broke the 300 football ground mark. I'd fast been reaching this number and was keen to leave it for somewhere special, and I think I made the right choice. Bath fan Louis had been on at me for months to visit Twerton Park, so I bit the bullet and made the train journey down. After wandering the City Centre I made my way out to the ground.
The sun shining, I stood on a hill overlooking the ground and the city and I immediately warmed to the place. After finally gaining entry, I went on record as saying it's my favourite Non-League ground, a viewpoint I still standby. One of my favourite days out this year.
With the year drawing to a close I was keen to make December memorable, and I think I just about managed that. Pipping Grantham Town with Ben, and the pitch at SK Merelbeke, for the top spot in December is the main stand at March Town United. Not often would I travel 3 hours for an Eastern Counties League game, but this place is different. It's such a shame that the stand is planned to be torn down, and I'd recommend a visit, even on a Non match day.
So there it is, my top moments of 2013. I hope you've all enjoyed reading, and from all at PDM we wish you a Happy New Year. Hopefully we'll see a couple of you at games, as that's what makes this hobby so enjoyable.
Until next time,