At the time of writing, Långholmen has members on its books from Sweden, United States, France, Libya, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, England, Brazil, Australia, Venezuela, Scotland, Italy, Lebanon, Ecuador, Wales and Norway. And with past prodigies holding passports issued everywhere from Argentina and Azerbaijan to Peru and Poland, the discerning football enthusiast would be hard pressed to find a more diverse bunch of players.
The club’s story began in 2001, when a group of new arrivals started kicking a ball around on the old prison island of Långholmen in central Stockholm. It was all very informal to start with. People walking past the pitch early on a Saturday afternoon would see a game in full flow and ask if they could join in.
Everyone was welcome, and new players kept arriving from all corners of the globe, myself among them. English was the language spoken, since no one had quite mastered the football lingo in Swedish.
As the weekly games gathered momentum, enthusiasm grew for the prospect of buying a set of jerseys and entering a team in the just-for-fun Korpen league. A decision was made to make the leap and the club played its first match in April 2002.
After a successful and hugely enjoyable first season, the players’ appetite was well and truly whetted and a team was entered into the league proper and the lofty heights of Division 8.
What happened next is almost unparalleled in the annals of Stockholm local football history. Armed with little more than a can-do attitude and an ill-fitting kit, “the Stripes” began their steady march through the divisions. Incredibly, the team was already playing Division 4 football by the time last season kicked off.
After a harrowing start to the 2008 campaign, and with the squad seemingly destined for relegation, the players launched a remarkable recovery after the summer break. Virtually unstoppable for the second half of the season, the team has set the scene for an unlikely assault on yet another promotion place in 2009.
But it’s not only the dedicated first teamers who get to don the famous black and white striped kit. As the club has developed in size and stature, new teams have been created to accommodate the growing legions of older and less dexterous players.
When the new league season gets going in April, the club will have five men’s and two women’s teams entered in the various local leagues. Like the men’s team, the women too cut their teeth in Korpen football for a season before joining the league at the Division 5 stage last year.
The club’s good-natured, family-oriented fan base garnered praise last year from the rest of the division for its vocal support of the team, and attending Långholmen games has become a great way to socialize and meet new people.
With the club’s flagship Division 4 team determined to continue its march towards the very top of the Swedish football ladder, The Local will be there to document Långholmen’s progress in 2009 with match reports, player profiles and gossip from the terraces.
Come on you Stripes!
See also: Photo Gallery
More info for potential players and curious fans: www.langholmenfootball.com
Next match: Stockholm Cup. Långholmen meet last year’s cup finalists Handelskamraterna at 12 noon on Sunday, February 8th. Venue: Stadshagens IP (Map)
First league match: Långholmen start the season with a home game against FC Krukan Lo Scudetto. Date: April 13th. Time: To be announced. Venue: Essinge IP (Map).