Belfast Telegraph

How did Bangor man Andy end up in Swedish Cup?

By Keith Bailie

Bangor man Andy McClelland had the incredible honour of leading out Swedish amateur side Langholmen FC against IFK Gothenburg in the Swedish Cup on Monday night.

The former Harland & Wolff Welders player, who now works as an account manager in for an advertising agency in Stockholm, captained the side from the Swedish sixth tier during their 9-0 defeat to the Scandinavian giants.

Despite the scoreline, the 26-year-old enjoyed the experience of taking on the club who famously helped eliminate Manchester United from the Champions League in 1995.

McClelland said: “We didn't quite pull off the giant killing we had hoped for but playing against a side like Gothenburg was a fantastic experience, regardless of the scoreline.

“It was fantastic to challenge ourselves against one of the biggest and best sides in Scandinavia. It was an incredible night for me and for the club. “

Defender McClelland went up against former Sunderland forward Tobias Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, in the second round tie.

McClelland added: “They were on a different level.

“Generally they were all able to move the ball at a phenomenal speed, but striker Hysen really was a different class.”

McClelland had hoped to nab Hysen's shirt after the match, but unfortunately little Langholmen couldn't afford to give away their kit.

“It would have been nice to swap shirts but unfortunately we need our shirts for our league match. I think they're in the wash at the moment!”

Langholmen have become minor celebrities in Sweden, appearing on national television and trending on Twitter before the

big game. The club who play in a regional Stockholm league are ranked over 250 places below Gothenburg in the Swedish football pyramid.

The cup tie was actually moved to the ground of second division side Brommapojkarna as Langholmen's ground has no stands and only has parking for seven cars.

Quirky Langholmen have also found their way on to the pages of British broadsheet papers, as the club have a number of British players and they use Stockholm's famous Irish bar Southside as their base.

Former Ards youth and reserve player Andy McClelland joined the club after moving to Stockholm four years ago, after a work college recommended the club as a good way to help him settle into life in new surroundings.

McClelland explained: “When I arrived in Sweden a few years ago I started to look round for football teams I could join.

“One of the guys in work had been to a few Langholmen matches and he put me in touch with the manager. It was the perfect fit for me as most of the guys at the club are English speaking.

“The club provides a real community for English speakers in Stockholm and the people within the club take great pride welcoming new expats to Sweden. They help players find work and accommodation and help them to learn Swedish.”

For captain McClelland and the rest of the boys at Langholmen, it's now back to reality after their 15 minutes of fame.

They play FC Krukan tomorrow night (Thursday night) in a relegation battle at the bottom of Stockholm's fourth division with an expected attendance of less than 100.

Belfast Telegraph

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