Sweden’s historically hooligan rich “battle of Stockholm” between AIK and Djurgården had gone 8 years without a proper hockey game before the two clubs met in September. The “Stockholm Derby” as it has been so affectionately called, has been a football staple for years. The hockey version of the rivalry has suffered from the emergence of Djurgården as a Swedish hockey super power, while AIK has been relegated to the country’s lesser leagues.
Security was tight in anticipation of the long awaited hockey game, AIK would ultimately win the battle on the ice by a score of 5-2 – but the war in and outside the legendary Ericsson Globe arena waged from warmups to the streets following the game. Some might call this kind of behavior hooligan-like, but others would simply say that it’s unrelenting passion. Take away the vandalism and the fighting, and this kind of devotion to a hockey team and cheering in unison leaves North American (Habs fans excused) hockey fans looking librarian in nature.
The two clubs met for the second time this season on November 4, with an identical 5-2 outcome in favour of AIK. Fans on both sides set the mood early when things got smoky just prior to the singing of the national anthem. No one seemed to panic, although, the Ericsson Globe is much larger than the Station nightclub where Great White’s pyrotechnics caused death and mayhem.
Back when I was scribing album and concert reviews in University, one egomaniac Canadian performer I spoke to lamented the seemingly lazy disposition of North American music fans. This particular singer/songwriter had garnered a massive following in Sweden, and when I asked him about it he chalked it up to the collective level of passion that European and Scandinavian fans carried in all aspects of life. While I’d never condone riot-like behavior at any sporting event, seeing fans get behind their club like these rowdy Swedes does make me wish we were all a little less reserved.