With another 2 weeks to go before our final league match, a trip to Husqvarna FF, I decide to arrange a friendly trip to league leaders Landskrona BoIS. The away game practice will do us good and as you’ll know by now, I find that there’s more to be gained in a tough friendly lost than an easy one comfortably won.
We lose 3-0, and it’s fairly comfortable, so by my own logic we definitely gain more than Landskrona… Don’t think that we didn’t put up a fight though, we had a go and we scared them at times, but their quality showed. It wasn’t an obliteration like my 2nd league game against Utsiktens BK, or my 4th against Östers IF, and we can take some genuine pride from that.
The next day Alexander Lundgren, the club Chairman, calls me at home and asks me to come into our training ground. He’s secretive about his reasons for doing so and that strikes me as odd, but intrigued, I head over anyway. When I arrive he’s stood by the desk in my office, holding a sheet of paper and looking uncomfortable. “I would like to extend this offer to you now,” he begins, “I would like you to sign a new year-long contract. I think you can win next week, I think we can avoid relegation and I have confidence that you’ll bring success to the club given a full season.”
I’m taken aback. I didn’t expect this. Is he trying to give me a boost? Is he showing me he’s got faith in our ability to stay up? Even if we do stay up I can’t guarantee I’ll be here next season. I think it would be a bit “meta” of me to explain to him what a Journeyman save is.
Instead I smile. “Put the contract away Alex”, I tell him. “Let’s get next week out of the way and then get the paperwork sorted.” He looks glum, but agrees. I feel quite sorry for him. He’s a lifelong Höllviken fan and I can tell he believes in me, maybe to a fault. He’s the Bill Kenwright to my Roberto Martinez.
We stand in silence for a moment, and then I grab a football from the corner of my office. “Come on” I tell him as I walk out towards the training pitch. I trudge across the soaking turf straight to the penalty spot in front of the nearest goal and put the ball down, before taking up my position in the middle of the mud-bath that is the goal-mouth. The nets are still up. Luckily someone forgot to take them off after the last training session.
Alex follows me and stands in front of the ball, still looking a bit glum, but now confusion’s been thrown into the mix too. “Smack it” I say calmly. He steps back, runs up to the spot and leathers the ball into the top left corner, I genuinely try to get there but I’ve got no chance. My dive falls well short and I end up in a muddy heap. “Bloody hell Alex, how long were you going to keep that secret?” I laugh as I get to my feet, “We could’ve used you instead of Lago at Hammarby”.
He looks slightly less down as he takes his place in net and I grab the ball and take it to the penalty spot. “What do you think our chances are of a win next week?” He asks. I think for a moment.
“Honestly, pretty good” I reply, hearing the surprise in my own voice. I run up and try to place the ball into the bottom corner, but I catch it badly and it greyses the wrong side of the post, skimming off the wet grass as it goes. “5 each, obviously” I grin.
“Obviously” he laughs.
We continue talking, and from then on I match Alexander: He scores, I score, He scores, I score. It’s 4-3 and Alex wins if he scores his 5th penalty. He runs up, smashes the ball central, I SAVE IT! And catch it too. Pretty impressed with myself there. We swap places once again.
I step up to level the scores… I drill the ball low towards the bottom right corner… and off the post. The ball rolls about 2 feet away and then gets stuck in the bog-like ground.
Alex trudges over to pick it up and then turns back to me. “Unlucky” he says quietly.
“Bloody Swedish weather’s worse than ours” I laugh. “I’ll bring proper boots next time I come in”.
“Or a boat” sighs Alex, as he glances towards one of the most waterlogged areas of the training pitch. Despite my attempt at cheering him up he’s clearly still worried.
“We’ll be alright” I reassure him as we start to practically swim back to the office building. “We’ve got a decent squad now and we’re injury free. We’ve picked up a couple of wins lately and we’re the ones with momentum”.
Alexander says nothing.
“Muhamed Dizdar’s looking sharp too, he could be the difference for us” I suggest hopefully.
Alex scrunches up his face, “Who?”
“Oh right, Mo Dizzle. Yes, he does look like a good player.”
I think that’s lifted his chin a bit. He’s slightly more cheerful than he was when I first saw him this morning anyway, but we do need a win next week. It isn’t just Alex we’re playing for, it’s Ms Alexandersson, it’s the season ticket holders, it’s all those good honest Swedes who are counting on us.
Let’s not let them down.
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