19-09-2000: IFK Goteborg 3 GAIS 2 (Allsvenskan) Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden
My first ever visit to Gothenburg was in 1977 en-route to Landskrona where Ipswich were taking on Landskrona BOIS in the UEFA Cup. We spent a night in Gothenburg either side of the game at a hotel not far from the Ullevi Stadium.
Ullevi roughly translates as the ‘Temple of Ull’ (the god of sport) – an appropriate name for a quite dramatic looking stadium. It would be another twenty-three years before I would get to go inside but I think that the Ullevi actually looks more impressive from the outside.
The overall shape of the stadium is like a shell with the roof levels low at the ends but rising to three times the height on the half-way lines. This design was arrived at by architects Jaenecke and Samuelson (who also designed the Malmo Stadium which I’ll be covering in a later post) after a study of the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki found that fans naturally gravitate towards the centre of the stands on either side of the playing surface.
The roof over the seating area on the south-west touchline is supported by thirty-eight steel cables strung from two 52-metre tall concrete masts. These towering columns, with floodlights perched on top, and the undulating roof of the bowl underneath can be seen for some distance from the stadium as you approach from the city centre.
Opened in May 1957 (although substantially modernized since) this is easily Sweden’s largest stadium with a capacity of 43,000 although the record attendance for a football match stands at 52,194 and was set in June, 1959 for the league game between Orgryte IS and IFK Goteborg. Built for the 1958 World Cup, it is primarily a football stadium, but has hosted many other sports including American Football, Speedway, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Motorcross and Music Concerts (64,312 packed the Ullevi for the visit of Bruce Springsteen in the summer of 1985).
In 2000 the top tier of Swedish League Football, the Allsvenskan, had five clubs from Gothenburg: Orgryte IS, Vastra Frolunda IF, BK Hacken, IFK Goteborg and GAIS. So between the start of the season in April and its end in the first week of November room in the fixture calendar had to be made for twenty Gothenburg derbies!
Of the five three – Orgryte IS, IFK Goteborg and GAIS, the cities best known teams – all call the neighboring Gamla Ullevi Stadium home, however, for tonight’s fixture, as well as any other major game featuring one of those three, the considerably larger Ullevi is used.
Orgryte IS, who I would watch in action two days later, are Sweden’s second oldest club, and dominated domestic football until 1930, but the best known and best supported are IFK Goteborg, nicknamed the Angels or the Blue-Whites, with GAIS (Goteborg Atlet & Idrottssallskap) coming third.
For someone used to the not entirely friendly derbies between Town and Norwich City this was quite a placid affair with no hint of any trouble. The 3-2 scoreline would suggest a closely matched action-packed affair but the game was as tame as the crowd with the highlight being the flares that were let off by both sets of fans before the game. For a few minutes their smoke filled the stands blocking out the early evening sun and lending an eerie silence to the stadium.