Tag Archives: Söderstadion

Hammarby fans tear their stadium apart

Hammarby IF, from the south of Stockholm, are one of Sweden’s most passionately supported clubs. Malmö, IFK and city rivals AIK all have a far bigger name internationally, but what Hammarby lack in titles they make up for in dedication. Last season they played in the distinctly unglamorous Swedish second division, yet still managed to sell out the 30,000+ capacity Tele2 Arena on several occasions. By comparison, top-flight side Djurgården – with whom they share the ground – averaged around the 15,000 mark or thereabouts.

That dedication was ultimately rewarded with Hammarby gaining promotion to Allsvenskan (the Swedish first division), but not so long ago they were rewarded with something far greater. In 2001 the green and whites won the Swedish league for the first and only time in their history, taking the title by a single point over Djurgården. It wasn’t the Tele2 Arena, but Söderstadion, Hammarby’s old home ground, that witnessed the finest season in the club’s history. I made a trip that historic ground last Saturday for a very particular reason.

Söderstadion is only a stone’s throw away from the Tele2 Arena but the two grounds are worlds apart. Built in the 1960s, it holds around half the capacity and lacks many of the modern comforts of its newer neighbour, but in my opinion it captures the spirit of the club far better – above all because of its simplicity. Like many older football stadiums it catches you by surprise upon approach, springing up in a narrow gap between office and residential buildings. Not so long ago my other half could even watch Hammarby train on the Söderstadion pitch from her office window which looked on to the ground – there are none of the huge protective walls that guard the secrecy of modern stadia.

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Söderstadion, wedged between two far bigger buildings.

Hammarby left the ground in 2013 for their new stadium, with club (and Football Manager) legend Kennedy Bakircioglü scoring the last goal there. Inevitably, the ground will soon be demolished, with the land used for shops, flats or other such boring, soulless things. End of story, except not quite. On Saturday the club opened the ground one last time and invited supporters to come and take what they wanted. Benches, tiles, taps, signs, billboards, hooks, and of course, the sacred turf. Everything was on offer – first come, first serve.

I turned up and played amateur photographer for the day and have to say it was pretty touching. I have no connection to Hammarby at all, yet I couldn’t help but feel quite sad as I stood back and watched what was once the thriving heart of a community being stripped to its bare bones. Allowing the fans to take what they wanted as a memento was a nice touch from the club. Quite soon there will be no remnants of this place on its original site, so it is fitting that the memory will live on in countless homes. Below are some of the better pictures I took along with a description of the varying amusing, moving or in some cases, baffling sites I saw.

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Upon entering the ground the first thing I was greeted with was a fan waving a bright green flare in the stands – one last time.

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One fan placed these on the centre-circle.

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Some kids watch on as their dad hacks away at one of the old benches with a saw

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Prams aren’t only good for carrying babies, they’re good for carrying shovels, it seems.

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In the tunnel looking out towards the pitch. Even the plexiglass was taken by some fans.

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I have no idea what you would do with part of the bench from the home dressing room, but there you go!

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This – presumably for washing boots – has seen better days.

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I met a teary-eyed Hammarby fan draped in a scarf in the home dressing room. He seemed resigned to but not thrilled by the fact that moving to the new stadium was good for the club.

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Out of shot there was some blood on the floor here. An attempt at taking one of the green tiles from the showers, gone wrong…

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One entrepreneurial sort turned up with a hotdog stand, as you can see in the bottom right of the picture.

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There were even a few volunteers on site with tools to help people who had none of their own

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These guys win the ‘sentimental but useless’ prize. I have no idea what they will do with a turnstyle, or where they will put it, but take it they did.

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By now this will be planted in their back garden.

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This idiot decided he wanted the ‘H’ sign from one of the supporting structures so badly he would shimmy along and grab it. Fortunately other fans managed to convince him to come back before he broke his neck.

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Someone tied a floral offering to one of the stands.

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Hopefully these two didn’t have a long journey home with that bench.

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This image gives you a good idea of how no-frills the stadium is/was, and how built up the area is too.

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This is the view many fans would have seen after coming in one of the main entrances. I found it quite sad.

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On my way out I noticed this board – albeit with the letters missing. The kid who now owns it let me take a picture while glancing suspiciously as if to say “don’t even think about it!”.

 

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