Introducing the Norwegian Review
Welcome to Norwegian STFC supporter Hans J. Tandsether, writer of the excellent Heia Swindon. Hans will be providing a new monthly column with his Norwegian view of the month starting next week, so I’ll let him introduce himself and why he’s a Swindon supporter.
“Is it because of Jan Aage?” People ask me that all the time and every time I have to answer the same; “No, I was a Swindon-fan before he came to the club”. People rarely believe me.
It is the truth. My name is Hans and I am a 34 year old Swindon die hard supporter born and bred in Norway in the sweet year of 1977. Some might know me as duncanshearer on Twitter or that mad Norwegian on TEF. I grew up on the Norwegian countryside with football as my main interest and every Saturday evening I was glued to the telly to watch Match of the Day on NRK – the Norwegian public broadcaster. From the late 60s they sent a couple of Norwegians to England to cover football for the Norwegian viewers. Every kid interested in football picked their favorite team in England. No one bothered much about any other country.
I didn’t care much for any of those teams in particular. Every year from 1985 I bought the Panini Sticker Albums and in 1988 or 1989 I remember having a team photo sticker of Swindon Town. I liked the shirts and I liked the crest. There was something about the name Swindon. There was something about the train in the crest. I wasn’t aware of it then, but I was slowly falling in love.
In 1991 I read about the story from 1990 when Swindon won against Sunderland at Wembley just to be demoted two divisions. I found that sad and I remembered Swindon from my old Panini sticker album. I started to slowly keep track of their results. That was not easy in Norway before the time of internet. I had to wait until Wednesday to get scores from the Saturday games because the only way to find results from Swindon was in a weekly Norwegian football magazine. I wrote to the club and asked for autographs and I got a swift reply from club secretary Jon Pollard that Swindon were thrilled to have a fan in Norway. I wrote back and asked if I could start a fan club for them in Norway and I got a positive response. In 1992 I even got a personal letter from Glenn Hoddle welcoming our support and he became the first honorary member of the Swindon Town Supporters Club of Norway.
I also got a fixture card from Swindon by mail and I sometimes called the club number at Saturdays just to hear the final score. Sometimes I even sat out in the garage in my dad’s station wagon listening to BBC World and the 6 o’clock football results. They probably thought I was trying to gas myself every Saturday evening.
Long story short: I started to write and print our own Swindon fanzine: The Swindon Town Telegraph. It was in Norwegian only and the first edition was a copied A4 piece. Later we got into the A5 standard format and we printed about 4-5 issues per year. I asked for a correspondent through Evening Advertiser, and a kind lady from Chippenham started to send us paper clippings and videos of games.
Duncan Shearer was my number one favourite player and of course – since I was a former goalkeeper myself – also Fraser Digby. I was thrilled to hear about the 4-3 win at Wembley and I thought this might be the chance Swindon will have to be shown on Norwegian television!
In the summer of 1993 Jan Aage Fjortoft signed for Swindon. Swindon Town Supporters Club of Norway counted 52 members at most but today there are just a handful plus that I know still is die hard. We printed our fanzine until 1998 when we had to quit it due to huge costs and the rise of the Internet in private homes. I suddenly could listen to Swindon games live on radio. It was a whole different world!
I have seen Swindon a number of times over the years, but not as much as I would have loved to. The first time I was in Swindon was in Christmas 1993. I was 16 years old and travelled with some people that I had never met before, but one who was a keen Swindon-fan and a member of our fan club. We were treated like kings at Swindon and were on the pitch before the Chelsea home game to give out our Player of the Year award to Paul Bodin. The fondest memory from that first trip was the late equaliser at Coventry by Andy Mutch. The away section went mad. I loved it!
The next trip I made was in 1994. I went with some of my mates and we stayed at a rather fishy motel in County Road. We presented Jan Aage with the player of the year award in front of the home fans before the Wolves game and also followed the team to Barnsley. We even got to see Swindon – Lecce at County Ground in the Anglo Italian Cup.
Sadly I have never been in Swindon since 1994. In 2000 I saw QPR – Swindon in London and witnessed a great bicycle kick by Grazioli. In 2008 I saw Luton – Swindon when Christian Roberts scored the winner and of course in 2010 I was at Wembley to see the play off final against Millwall. What a day for a Norwegian to see his beloved team with 30,000 fans! Sadly the result didn’t go our way but it was still a day to remember.
I surely hope I will get to Swindon again sooner than later. I would love to visit the town again and be at the County Ground. I am trying to convince my girlfriend, but with no luck. She hates football can you believe it. My daughter is however dressed in style from the Swindon Superstore so I will try my best to get her on as a fan when she gets older.
Even though the old Swindon Town Supporters Club no longer exists I have been blogging about Swindon in Norwegian for many years. The latest addition is the www.heiaswindon.com page that I run and now Ron has given me the chance to have a monthly column at the great The Washbag and I look forward to share my Norwegian views about Swindon.
Until next time take care and COYR!