Simon Kjellgren, Sweden.
“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, a player, or a history. You support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.” This is a quote from legendary soccer player Dennis Bergkamp. I personally live by those words because they’re the truest words anyone has ever said about soccer.
“My team” is called GAIS, short for Goteborgs Atlet & IdrottSallskap (roughly translated to “Gothenburgs Athletes & Sports Association”), and is one of the oldest soccer clubs in Sweden. Founded in 1894 by a wrestler named Carl Gustafsson at a food hall in the heart of Gothenburg, they didn’t start up their soccer organization until 1897. The team blossomed and won their first national championship in 1919 and later became one of the founders, and the first champions, of Sweden’s top soccer leauge “Allsvenskan”. After that, they were ranked one of Sweden’s top teams for a while, at least until the fifties, more specifically 1954. That’s the year when we would win our last championship, at least for now.
After 1954 we became a “Yo-Yo team”. This means that we went up and down in the leagues and were never able to stay in one league for long. It would take 50 years for “GronSvart” (“GreenBlack”, one of the teams nicknames because of their colors which are, you guessed it, green & black.) to really set their foot in Allsvenskan again. They had been there a couple of times before, but only for short periods of time. They managed to stay in Allsvenskan for 7 straight seasons after their 2005 promotion, which hadn’t been done since their relegation in 1955. During the 7 seasons they proved themselves a mid-level team, with their best position being a 5th place back in 2011. The year after that GAIS would be relegated again, finishing last with the worst score in the history of Allsvenskan. And that pretty much takes us to the present.
They have always had very passionate and cynically optimistic fans, this beautiful Rock n’ Roll team from Sweden’s west coast. Every year the fans think that we will win the league, and every year they are left worrying about another demotion. It has been that way for the past 4 years, but still, the fans remain positive. They have to remain positive so as to not go crazy from all the stress and disappointment that “Makrillarna” (“The Mackerels” another nickname given to us because of our colors) has brought us. I personally stay hopeful, knowing that after rain comes sunshine. although we play best when it’s raining; we call it Makrillvader (Mackerel weather) as it’s easier to fish for mackerel when it is raining a bit. I really hope that the sun will soon shine on our beaten down emblem and that our former glory will come once again.
To bring it full circle, I’d like to go back to the quote in the beginning, but tweak it just a little bit. “When you start playing for GAIS you might do it because of our history and our trophies, but you’ll stay because you found yourself somewhere there, somewhere you belong.”
And to that end, I’d like to translate part of a song by Sweden’s most famous singer, and also our march-in song, which kind of encapsulates what the team is all about. “I don’t have any strong arms to carry you with, and I’m not much at all to look at, but you’ll never have to lie again, and you’ll never have to see me laying there, dead on the road”.