'We all follow the West Ham'

Whenever Sweden is mentioned in a football discussion, it's not long before the legendary players of the national team like Henrik Larsson or Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the key subjects of discussion.

For Christian Bergström though, his support lies completely with West Ham United, as it does with many of his fellow countrymen.

"English football has always been very attractive for Swedes," explained Bergström. "As early as 1969, the public network channel in Sweden called SVT started to broadcast top division football from England on a programme called Tipsextra.

"I wasn't even born at that time but as I was then born in the 70s, it played a big part of my childhood. Every Saturday you had the possibility to see English football."

Many of Bergström's friends chose the more successful clubs in England to support, whereas Bergström himself found something special about West Ham.

"Most of the people that I grew up with started to follow the big teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and so on," he continued. "I wasn't into that.

"I followed the tables and scores in the papers each week as my own football and games took place during the weekends. However, I always glanced a bit extra at the team with the stand out name 'West Ham'.

"One day I switched on Tipsextra and watched The Hammers play a game. This was the early 90s. Here we had a team playing genuine attractive football and I decided to give them a little bit more attention."

Back in 1998, Bergström finally decided to make his first trip to England to watch the Hammers live, which he describes as a surreal moment.

"It was just a great trip. I'd been building up a vast interest in the club for many years and I just felt I had to go there.

"I travelled with my best friend and we had a few pints before the game at The Boleyn pub and it was truly an odd feeling standing there. I felt misplaced, like an away supporter at a home pub.

"We had tickets in the old West Stand and I couldn't believe that I was finally at Upton Park. The feeling was surreal!

"It was a great experience. We won 2-1 against Tottenham and my first visit couldn't have had a better start."

Scandinavian Hammers

Christian and his fellow Scandinavian Hammers at the Boleyn Ground

On a more recent trip to England, Bergström took his support to a new level when he travelled from his house in Sweden to Millwall's The Den stadium and home in a single day simply just to experience the famous grudge match.

"It's always worth traveling to see West Ham! The game comes first of course, but it's so much more to it. This was a game I just had to go to. I've heard so much about the rivalry and I love away games so I set my sights on this one.

"I can understand the feelings as we have similar rivalry between the clubs in Stockholm, but for me as a Swede, I can never experience the same emotions of course.

"The problem at the time was that I didn't have any money. I did the math and I realised that it could be done relatively cheap if I went over the day with a very early flight. My dear mum actually sponsored me!

"After the game I got caught up in a jam and police blocking our way. I approached an officer and showed my return flight and he couldn't believe I came from Sweden the very same morning and was now heading home. I would've probably missed my flight if they hadn't cleared the way and let me out of the crowd.

"I just made it to boarding and decided this was the first, and last, game ever in one day. It was definitely worth it. I just had to go to The Den with West Ham."

When at home in Sweden, Bergström links up with the Scandinavian Hammers, who regularly meet up to watch the Hammers together.

"As a football supporter, you search for like-minded and the easiest way to do it is just sit down at a computer and do a search.

"Speaking for myself, I think I've always known about different supporter clubs but I haven't always been a part of them. I've used to be a member of WHFS (West Ham Fans Sweden) but found that the Scandinavian Hammers fills the criteria.

"They have a forum for fans to communicate, travel to away and home games about three times a year on organised trips and have occasional pub meetings to catch a televised game together.

"It's a rollercoaster supporting West Ham. I've been experiencing so many ups and downs. You have to be mentally strong, as we all know!"