From the Terraces

Scandinavian Hammers chairman Tore Søyland blogs on how West Ham United became and remain popular in the Nordic countries

The Scandinavian Hammers are West Ham United’s largest supporters’ club outside the UK. With 800 members, the club has grown almost every year since Rune Jensen founded the Scandinavian Hammersback in 1988. You can read more about the club at
Legendary Gjermund Holt has been the leader of the supporters’ club over the last two decades but at the start of this season Tore Søyland (@toredicanio) was appointed as the new chairman of the club. Tore will post regular blogs on with both his personal and the Scandinavian Hammers’ views on how it is to support the Hammers from outside the UK.
English football is largely popular in Scandinavia. It all started back in 1969 when the first match from England was broadcast live on TV. Wolverhampton Wanderers won 1-0 against Sunderland on 29 November in a rather boring match. Nevertheless the interest in English football was growing fast after this ma;tch.

The regular match called Tippekampen was broadcast each Saturday at 3pm from this date onwards. Mostly matches were screened from the Midlands. That is why there are still plenty of Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Stoke City and Derby County supporters in Scandinavia.

Later, NRK (the Norwegian public service broadcaster) started broadcasting from all over the country and every year the FA Cup final was the main match of the season.

West Ham’s first live match on TV in Scandinavia was the London derby against Arsenal on 4 December 1971. The match ended 0-0 at the Boleyn. Already back then many Scandinavians supported the Hammers due to the World Cup success in 1966 and the FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup victories in ´64 and ´65.

Today, it is a lot easier to be a Scandinavian and follow West Ham over land and sea. With better economy and cheaper flight tickets the supporters’ club now own 11 Season Tickets at Upton Park. In addition to this, the Scandinavian Hammers arrange group tours several times each season. Some of these tours are fully booked with more than 100 travellers. We are represented at every West Ham match – home and away. Many of our members travel to more than ten matches each season.

For me personally, I started supporting West Ham back in 1986 when I was seven years old. If we were lucky we could see two or three matches on TV each season at that time. This was, of course, a long time before the Internet, so you had to be Sherlock Holmes to search for news and info about the Club!
Fanzines, letters to the club and our own Supporters’ Fanzine from 1988 were our main three sources. To follow the matches we listened to BBC Radio Five Live with a really poor signal at MW 918/963.

My first (of soon to be 100) ever live matches in the UK was at Highbury in 1994. West Ham won 2-0 with goals by Martin Allen and Trevor Morley. Funny enough, Tricky Trev is today a regular pundit/expert at the Norwegian Premier League broadcaster TV2.

I will end this blog with a few words about this Saturday. With a victory versus Everton we will secure our position in the upper half. A great achievement! We have not been impressive this spring but I would take a tenth place each day of the week if I was offered it before the start of the season.

I hope promising Reece Bruke will continue in the centre of the defence and would like to see an offensive starting line-up in our last home match of the season. With two of our strikers out injured, I hope for 4-4-2 with Valencia and Cole up front.

Adrian – Jenkinson, Collins, Burke, Cresswell – Song, Noble, Koyate, Downing – Valencia, Cole is my XI. A diamond formation with Downing in the hole and Song as holding midfielder is the recipe for three point against The Toffees!

Tore Søyland
Chariman, Scandinavian Hammers