Thursday, May 29, 2008

Back to Kanalplan

JoeOn Sunday we returned to Kanalplan in southern Stockholm to watch our local women's side, Bälinge, play against Hammarby. This was an absolutely critical game: Bälinge and Hammarby are without any doubt the two worst teams in the league this year, so the loser of this match is going to have a hard time not coming in dead last. This is made all the more significant because in the Swedish women's league, as in most European football leagues, the worst two teams each season get relegated to the next division down, and replaced with the best two teams from that division. There's a better than even chance that both Hammarby and Bälinge will be saying farewell to the Damallsvenskan at the end of this season, but if either team wants to have a chance to avoid relegation, they need to start with a win over the other.

In case you're eagerly awaiting Jennifer's game summary, I won't spoil the suspense. I will say that it was a perfect day for a soccer game, slightly cool if you were in the shade with a breeze, but blue skies the whole way. Our trip there and back was uneventful this time, as befits what is essentially a commuter train ride for most people, although it was definitely more crowded than it had been two week's earlier. I guess the summer season is truly upon us. Anyway, given our travails the last time, we budgeted way too much time for the trip this go round, but that gave us time to wander the stadium a bit, meet the team cat, and then have a sandwich in the stands before the crowd showed up—the crowd of 462, less than half the previous game's attendance.

It was quite a contrast to the last game we went to, which we neglected to mention here. On 14 May, Bälinge hosted the 363 kg gorilla of the Damallsvenskan: Umeå IK. Umeå is a great team, which has dominated the Swedish league for years, and is consistently oe of the best women's club teams in the world. In addition to a host of Swedish stars of note, a few years back they hired Marta, the young Brazilian who is simply the best player in the women's game today. Now, Swede's aren't big on celebrity in general, and far from seeking autographs they seem to pretend not to notice when they run into a famous person. Marta is something of an exception though. Despite it being an away game for Umeå, their fans outnumbered the locals by a pretty fair margin, and most of those fans seemed to be pigtailed girls who all wanted an autograph. When Marta came off the field after 60 minutes, the stadium actually had to warn people to wait until after the game before mobbing her for autographs.

Anyway, nothing like that at Kanalplan this weekend. Still, we had a pleasant afternoon of it. Oh, and I got a picture of the unexpected cliff from last time:

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