When Rebecca and I stepped off the Y-Buss at Bykrogen Restaurang (shirt sponsor of Fränsta I.K.), in May 2006, Håkki himself had planned to meet us but was still busy (along with a gang of fellow Fränsta-ites) putting the finishing touches to the future home of Mr. and Mrs. Super Mac.
Our flat – situated in the hub of Fränsta’s Central Business District (next-door to the thriving bangolf course) – had been kindly furnished by Fränsta I.K. players, officials and their families. Our sofa and stereo system were donated by Micke, of Willy & the Hitchhikers, and his partner, Elin, while local footballing hero, Micke ‘Phenomenal’ Dahl, provided a chic red rug (a fibre of which was later to prove the final straw on the back of the camel that was Håkki’s vacuum cleaner). With televisual and bedroom-furniture contributions from footballers, Tomas ‘Limpan’ Lindeberg and Fredrik ‘Martini’ Martini respectively, design maverick, Maria ‘Märy’ Mohlin arranged some plants before Håkki – in the tradition of the Italian Renaissance master sculptor – added his signature by hanging a selection of retro colonial-(agri)cultural quasi-educational prints picked up from local charity shop, Erikshjälpen.
This IKEA-eschewing collective effort set the tone for our stay in Fränsta (which was funded, in part, by the sale of limited edition Super Mac T-shirts, featuring – in trademark Håkki™ comedic style – a classic cartoon character with a sheep under one arm and football under the other, as opposed to a typical, mainstream Ljungbergesque vanity shot… Super Mac’s pale Scottish figure doesn’t photograph very well anyway). Throughout the summer, there was a strong sense of community from which we benefited and to which we hopefully managed to contribute. For example, when in search of an after-football-training refreshment there was, more often than not, a barbeque at someone’s house; likewise, an almost weekly rotation of music festivals in the surrounding villages left no excuse for trips to multinational-run über concerts. As endorsed by the Håkki™ project, cultural (and other) happenings like these come about, and are advertised by, word of mouth leaving the media scavenging in their wake. (Obviously, this applies more to music festivals than to barbeques, although goalkeeper, Jonas ‘Shrug’ Nilsson, an enthusiastic barbeque-goer, has been known to generate his own x-rated media attention using mobile-phone-camera technology).
In the football arena, there had been a considerable turnover of players at the club since the previous season. Many had moved on, for a variety of reasons, including work commitments in Stockholm, study in Göteborg and London, army service in the north, and lucrative offers from rival clubs. This exodus necessitated the hurried and, perhaps, premature graduation of players from the P15 team to the first-team, and an injection of players from other clubs. Understandably, this assembly took some time to bond and just as the team started to perform well together – with an impressive run of consecutive victories before the Midsummer break – a flu epidemic swept through the team, with several players ruled out of the game for weeks.
Some might say this was just another ‘bad luck story’, as compared to the famous football cliché which claims that ‘you make your own luck’. In other words, if everyone works together and offers 100% effort, then the luck will soon follow. Well, during this challenging period, those who were not struck down by the flu, injured or otherwise posted missing, did pull together to try and drag the club out of the relegation zone. After a concerted effort, going into the final match of the season, Fränsta I.K. needed to defeat local rivals Stöde (who had put an end to the run of victories earlier in the season) and rely on Sund beating Matfors. Fränsta won comfortably and, after the final whistle, the players waited nervously on the pitch for word to filter through of the day’s other crucial match – alas, the loudspeaker announced that Matfors had beaten Sund, and Fränsta were condemned to 5th Division football for the first time since before young midfielder Andreas ‘Linkan’ Lindqvist was born.
Despite this disappointing conclusion, there were many positive aspects to be taken from the season, not least the admirable performances of skilful youngsters Linkan and Andreas Modén and the continued development of Fredrik Martini and Patrik Strand who will hopefully have benefited from their experience and have a lot to offer the club in the future.
Our time in Fränsta was undoubtedly a positive one with many happy memories. Thanks very much to Håkki™ project for accommodating us, and Håkki himself, and everyone in Fränsta for their kindness. All the best for the future.