Groundhopper: Malmö FF

“When we entered the stadium we were met by a wall of baby-blue, all holding banners proclaiming Malmö’s championship titles and massive flags with the club’s crest. That’s an image I won’t soon forget.”

By Tim Blount

För helvete… KOM IGEN!!

I’m an American… I’ve been to plenty of football games. But football? As in a sport that’s actually played with feet? That’s something completely foreign to me. So, as a foreign exchange student in Europe, I decided I would dive right in.

I bought tickets to a Malmö FF match versus Dalkurd FF when Nick came to visit me during my last week in Sweden. Just a 15 minute train ride from where I stay in Lund, Swedbank Stadion lies not too far from the shadow of Malmö’s iconic Turning Torso building. We arrived to the stadium plaza an hour early and went straight to the team store to pick up some of the team’s baby-blue merchandise for souvenirs.

Donning our new colors like a pair of veteran fans, we grabbed a beer at O’Leary’s sports bar and rushed inside to make it to our section just in time for kick-off. We slid in with the Malmö faithful – a standing-room-only section with cheaper tickets and a rowdier atmosphere – for an ideal first taste of professional football in Europe. Armed with my limited knowledge of Swedish, we sang along with the chants I remembered from a Malmö hockey game, and faked our way through the ones we didn’t understand.

Dalkurd, last in the Allsvenskan coming into the game, stifled the home team defensively and connected on a 43rd minute goal despite not having possession for the majority of the first half. We were surprised to learn that Malmö, which has dominated the league historically, has struggled this season. Ignoring the team’s recent misfortunes, Nick prophesied a goal within the first fifteen minutes of the second half and a 2-1 comeback victory.

Malmö came out of halftime with furious pace, while Dalkurd seemed to be content to run out the clock. The visitors could only fight off the oncoming attacks for ten minutes before a long strike by Carlos Strandberg made good on the first part of Nick’s prediction and tied the game. The celebration was the most memorable portion of the game, as the crowd erupted in cheers briefly but quickly fell back into organized clapping and chanting.

Unfortunately, Malmö’s effort was not enough and Dalkurd hung on for a 1-1 draw. The body language of the players and fans let us know that it was more of a loss than a tie for the home team. A disappointing result did not mar an excellent fan experience, however, and we returned home with Malmö chants stuck in our heads until we fell asleep.

It was easy to infer, as a first time fan, that there is much more to football than displays of athleticism on the field. In fact, the atmosphere in the stands will prove to be much more memorable than the on-field product that day. When we entered the stadium we were met by a wall of baby-blue, all holding banners proclaiming Malmö’s championship titles and massive flags with the club’s crest. That’s an image I won’t soon forget. Additionally, the passion was unrivaled. I think the man leading the chants deserves a month-long vacation to repair his vocal cords.

After the match, we had several people stop us on the street to ask us the game result because of our jerseys. If not for my spotty Swedish, we might have even passed for regulars! While we will surely never truly live and die by Malmö’s successes and failures as their loyal fans do, I am grateful to have been accepted into the community if only for a day.

Tim Blount is part of a group of four university friends who run A Tinkers Damn blog. They created challenge lists for the purpose of conquering fears and engaging in new experiences. By documenting their progress online, they aim to inspire others to challenge themselves and take advantage of all life has to offer.

Tim’s visit to Malmö was 114. Experiencing a European Football Match.

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