Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another Delightful Evening in Finja

A long morning of doing laundry started our Wednesday. We then continued to prepare for a week of madness starting with this Friday's huge Mid-Summer Festivals here in Skåne and then our trip to Stockholm on Saturday followed by six days of cruising on Sunday to Tallinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia and Helsinki, Finland.

We really wanted to squeeze in a flight to Milan on Saturday for the Italian Super Bowl featuring our beloved Catania Elephants against the Parma Panthers but we just can't afford it. Also, I don't want to do anything that might upset the positive Karma train that they have been riding on all season by suddenly showing up. DAI RAGAZZI!!!!

In the afternoon, we accepted an invitation for dinner at the Finja home of Johan, Karolyn and Henning Hammarqvist. We would also get to watch the USA vs. Algeria World Cup game on TV and then attend the Finja IF vs. Tyringe IF Division VI fotboll match if we could buy tickets from a scalper for this much anticipated Derby.

The Hammarqvist's Backyard

It is so relaxing to just sit here in Finja and look out at this serene setting. It is such a big change only ten minutes away from the fast paced life in inner-city Hässleholm.

World Cup 2010
Pretoria, South Africa
USA, in white, vs. Algeria

This was the last game of Group C pool play. The USA had tied England 1-1 and Slovenia 2-2 in their first two games of pool play. A win would automatically qualify Team USA for a spot in Round 2 of the World Cup, a 16 country, single elimination tournament.

If the USA vs. Algeria game ended in a tie, then a complicated tie breaking system first devised by Ramses II in ancient Egypt and specifically mentioned on the Rosetta Stone would come into play.

As Al Davis would say, better to "Just Win, Baby!"

Henning and Johan
The BBQ was fired up at the Intermission

At half time we were all shocked that the score was 0-0. It was time to change Team USA's fortunes so we sat the iconic American duck atop the TV for good luck.

At the end of regulation it was remarkably still 0-0. Now we only had four minutes of Injury Time Out to play and score the winning goal.

It was time to do something radical. We decided to turn the duck around on the TV.

Landon Donovan SCOOOOOOOOORES!!!

Thirty seconds into the Injury Time Out play the L.A. Galaxy's Landon Donovan did it!

Celebrating Donovan's Goal
Note the Duck is now facing right

After crushing Algeria 1-0, the USA finished Group C pool play with a record of 1-0-2 tied with England. The tie breaker here was simple, Team USA scored more goals in pool play than England, 4-2.

For the first time since the first World Cup tournament in 1930, Team USA won its pool play. Next up for the red, white and blue is a crucial match with Ghana on Saturday. Ghana was 1-1-1 in Group D pool play with Australia, Germany and Serbia.

How to celebrate this momentous occasion?

With a Feast of course!

The BBQ Pork with mushrooms was delicious.

As were the pototoes and caprese salad

The Hammarqvists just got back from a week long vacation on Italy's Anzio Beach. They had a lot more fun than U.S. troops did there in WWII to be sure. Karolyn's caprese salad was worthy of any Italian home.


After dinner it was time to talk to the livestock next door. It is at this moment that I found out that I am fluent in the language of the Swedish Cow.

On to the Finja IF Pitch

We somehow scored ducats into the jam packed stadium with the score 0-0 still in the first half. This scene of the Finja IF goalie under barrage was to be repeated often tonight.

The final score was Tyringe IF 5 - Finja IF 0.

Our kind of B&B in Finja

Finja IF Ticket Taker/Coffee Spiker Magnus Andersson's Mother-in-Law makes incredible coconut brownies. Combine one or two of these with a cold beer and you are in B&B heaven!

Magnus informed us very subtly as we entered the stadium that since tomorrow was a work day, the coffee would be "weak" tonight. DAMN!

Karolyn, Henning and Johan Hammarqvist

A key family moment is captured at the Finja pitch as Henning, for the first time, opens a beer for Johan!

The view as you exit the Finja Pitch

Back at Hammarqvist Manor

Henning and I successfully executed a defensive drill in case Denmark were to attack in an attempt to reclaim Skåne as their own.

Karolyn's Family Bridal Chest
dating back to 1841

We had a wonderful time with the Hammarqvists, they are such good people and great hosts. Becoming friends with these three alone makes the whole Swedish experience more than worthwhile.


Johan did bring up one other curious happening, the SAFF Week 7 Division I National Rankings that came out today. I had not seen the them but, to say the least, they are goofy.

Now I'm not a great believer in rankings since the playoffs at the end of the season and the play on the field will eventually determine the league's pecking order. I must say though that this week's rankings smell more of Italian emotions than Swedish logic.

How so you ask? Well, Kristianstad's 49-6 victory over us on Sunday earned them a drop in the rankings from number 2 to number 5 despite their 5-0 record???

The 4-1-1 Ystad Rockets moved ahead of Kristianstad into the #4 slot based on their 6-6 tie with 1-3-2 Ekeby. Oh, by the way, Ystad's only loss was to Kristianstad???

Our loss dropped us from #19 to #22. With our 2-4 record we are now ranked behind #16 Ekeby who is as I said 1-3-2, we beat Ekeby???

Carlshamn had the BYE last weekend and must have had a terrific week of practice. Despite their 0-6 record and our beating them 45-8 in Week 6, they are now ranked ahead of us as well??? So are the 0-5 Sundsvall Flames from Division I Norra who have only scored 16 points this season???

OK, I've got this one figured out. Strength of schedule is a determining factor in the rankings. Our schedule is only ranked as the 21st strongest while Ekeby's is rated the 6th toughest and Carlshamn's is ranked the 7th toughest schedule.

But wait a second, we have all played the exact same schedule with one exception, we can't play ourselves. Ekeby's and Carlshamn's games against the Canes makes their schedules much tougher while our games against them make our schedule much weaker???

For the full lesson in "SAFF Division I Logic 101" click on the link below, GOOD LUCK.

1 comment:

Johan said...

Thanks for the kind words. It´s always a pleasure to have you over. And great to finally meet Laurie.

Hope you two have a really nice trip.