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One of Us

By Bandy Boy, 10/14/18, 11:45AM CDT


Another Story in the History of USA Bandy


The long and dark Swedish winter gradually works its way towards spring. Although the temperature may not rise and the snow continues to fall the minutes and hours of daylight slowly increase, day by day, after the Winter Solstice. By the weekend of February 7-9, 1986 Harnosands AIK's second road trip to the northern Swedish bandy frontier, the sun was rising just after 9am and setting not long past 4pm. We had not lost a game since falling to Nyborg on December 22nd and were in the hunt for a top spot in the league. On Saturday February 8 we were facing league leading Kalix and on Sunday the 9th Karlsborg who was in 2nd place.

Down 4-2 to Kalix we scored 3 goals in the final 15 minutes to pull out a magnificent victory 5-4. The next day brought an even more dramatic comeback. With six minutes left the score was Karlsborg 4 and Harnosands AIK 1. Six minutes later the game ended 4-4. Our trip to the way up north was a major success. Beating Kalix and tying Karlsborg moved us into second place. The 305 mile bus ride home to Harnosand would go much faster than the ride home from Nyborg on December 22nd. Even with the 1 hour wait at the Kalix hospital for Goran Olson to have his severely sliced nose stitched up after he encountered a skate blade during the game. It was during this wait that multiple cases of beer were brought out from the bus' luggage compartment and into the passenger area. Our success this weekend warranted a big celebration, one that lasted all 6 hours it took to get back to Harnosand.

By that weekend I had been skating for Harnosand for over 3 months, almost a season full of games, 3 to 4 trainings per week, locker room banter, team meals and evenings at the only nightclub in town. During that time I spoke english with my roommate Orjan Stal and with Goran Olson. It was almost all Swedish with my coaches and other teammates. As far as I knew Bertil, Owe, Peppa, Robban, Micke, Fracke, Kryddan etc spoke little english or none at all. It was difficult to communicate when I first arrived but after 3 months of Swedish class, teaching myself 10-15 new words per night together with the perceived necessity of speaking and listening in Swedish I felt quite comfortable with my ability to communicate. It thus came as a complete surprise to me when about two hours and 3 cases of beer into the bus ride home the entire team, one after another and then all together, began speaking in english to me.


"You guys speak english"?

"Why did you wait until now to let me know this"?

"Well Chris, we were shy"

"We also all saw how hard you were working to learn to speak Swedish and we wanted to help you"

So we spoke only Swedish to you"

"You should know that by learning to speak Swedish you have become one of us"

"You are one of us now"

Of course at the next training it was all Swedish again.