After weeks and weeks of interviews with numerous clubs all over Europe, we have our first job in the BadJokes European comedy tour and it’s taking us all the way from Romford in East London to Södertälje in southeastern Sweden to manage Syrianska FC. If you would like to read about how we ended up picking Syrianska has my 1st club then please check out my previous post Here
Due to having an outrageous fear of flying I’ve got quite a long drive ahead of me taking me and my 10-year-old Vauxhall Astra on the ferry over to holland and then all the way through Holland into Northern Germany, before taking another ferry into Denmark then finally driving the last few hundred miles up to Södertälje.
All in all, it’s going to take about a day of travelling to get there which gets me thinking I’ve gotta book in with Paul McKenna to sort out this fear of flying!!.
So with such a long day ahead of me, I had a few choices to keep myself busy I could have listened to about 20 “Something to Wrestle with” podcasts but well there’s only so much of Bruce Pritchard anyone can put up with in a day so binned that idea off.
Plan B was then to listen to War and Peace on Audible but seeing as I’d be travelling through Germany I decided that might not be the greatest idea ever as we all know what happened last time a maniac in Germany got ideas about starting a war.
Then I settled on plan C and that was to learn about the club I’m about to be managing and the local area, thankfully this turned out to be rather interesting. So now let me tell you what I learnt, first up starting with my new hometown Södertälje
Located 47 miles southwest of Stockholm Södertälje has a population of 72,704 (well now 72.705) people The town was originally called tälje until 1622 when the prefix Söder which translated to English means South was added to differentiate from the new town of Norrtälje which is located 68 miles northeast of Södertälje. Due to being located on the Baltic sea, the town became a seaside resort destination for Stockholmers in the last half of the 19th century. The Bath hotel at Järnagatan street, Strandhotellet hotel still remains standing from this time despite the resort era ending in 1945.
The next part of the story will interest you if your a trucking or ETS2 fan as in 1911 the local railway car manufacturer Vabis merged with Scania to make the company we know today and Scania Still has their headquarters in Södertälje.
In the 1950s the council decided that the city was outdated so ordered a major renovation of the central areas, however until the 1960s the town was still a fairly small one with a population of only 33000 but then the industrial boom hit the town and changed the demographics drastically as the two major companies Scania and Astra started employing more and more people and a lot these people came in from Italy, Greece, Finland and Yugoslavia. In the 70s the Finnish population declined and was replaced by many Assyrian people (remember that that will be important in a minute). In fact, now about 40 per cent of the population of Södertälje is made up of 1st or 2nd generation immigrants with many Iraqi’s arriving in the ’90s now making the largest population group. So nowadays its a very diverse multicultural city
Now as for things to do in the city in my spare time the number one attraction I want to visit is the superbly named Tom Tits experiment which is a science museum aimed at kids (but im a big kid so im certainly going) based on La Science Amusante by Arthur Good under the pseudonym Tom Tit
2nd up is the Marcus Wallenberg-Hallen AKA the Scania Museum where you can go and have a look at not just trucks but also tanks, buses motorbikes and Sweeden’s first mass-produced Car from 1903
Now onto the reason, I’m travelling to Sweeden and that is, of course, Syrianska FC who was founded on the 1st of July 1977 by Syriac-Aramean immigrants and the club is viewed as the unofficial national team of Syria which leads to the club having a worldwide fan base so the potential is there for the team to grow massively.
During there existence they have been mostly a lower league team but they had their most successful time in terms of league standings with the club winning the second division the Superettan for the 1st time in the 2010 season and surviving in the Allsvenskan (top division) relegation playoff the following season after finishing 14th, they then survived again in the 2011 season finishing 1 place better off in 13th, however, the next season they did get relegated back down to the Superettan after finishing 16th in the league.
The team play in the 6,400 capacity Södertälje Fotbollsarena which is shared with our rivals Assyriska Fotbollsföreningen who play in the league below us and the ground can be expanded for bigger games. The biggest crowd ever at a game here was between the two rivals in 2009 when the attendance was 8,453 people.
So I’ve now arrived in Södertälje its Friday the 16th of August 2019 and I get a look at the league table which shows that with only 9 games left of the season we’re 11th in the league 4 points above 13th & 14th which are the relegation playoff places and the club have only won once in the last 8 games so things need to change and quickly if we’re going to avoid being relegated which would be a disaster as that would mean an automatic sacking so erm yeah no pressure Spen.
What’s that you want to know what our 1st game in charge will be? Ok then well, we’re starting off nice and easy we’ve only got the top of the table Halmstads BK in our first game. Oh when is that game you’re asking as well? It’s in 2 days time and it’s 300 miles away so I’ve got some more driving to do and the 1st time I’m going to meet the players is going to be in the dressing room at Halmstads stadium, so yep that’s an ideal start.
So on that Bombshell, that’s where I’m going to leave it for today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to Syrianska FC and Södertälje. I’ll be back next week with the last 9 of the season as we attempt to stay in this division and avoid an early sacking on the comedy tour.
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