Djurgårdens IF | Preserved for all time

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Erik Wibaeus has created a unique photographic record of the fanatical support that surrounds Stockholm’s Djurgårdens IF football club.

He describes his pictures as “more of a diary or record of what I experience as a supporter.”

“A note for the future,” as he puts it.

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

And he feels their relevance will increase as the years go by.

“To capture one moment or a single phenomenon in our stands might not mean so much for us today,” he said, “but maybe someone will appreciate this in 30 years and I’m happy to contribute. As a football club we are in it for the long haul.”

Photography is the key to it all, says Wibaeus. “It unlocks doors, it gives you freedom to connect with people. It also takes you to places that you always wanted to visit or rooms you never thought you would be able to enter.

“The same key got me reconnected with the football club that I grew up with after a few years of missing out.”

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

A successful corporate photographer for 12 years when he travelled the world, and now serving in the Swedish Navy, Wibaeus has been a Djurgårdens supporter since childhood. But he and his club drifted apart, until he rediscovered his love of following them, as well as taking pictures, after a few years’ break.

“I’m really getting back into it now,” he said. “Going to put a lot more focus on away games, youth-teams as well as our very dedicated female squad. It will be a long term project.”

Wibaeus first began going to Djurgårdens matches in the 1990s, and lists Markus Karlsson and the long serving Stefan Rehn among his favourites. Rehn, he says, is a true hero within the club and together with a 19 year old on loan Millwall youngster, Teddy Sheringham, is credited with securing promotion in 1985.  

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

“First game at home I remember was against Halmstad in October 1995. The atmosphere was chaotic. Sat on my dad’s shoulders. Game only lasted for about 20 minutes. A bloke ran onto the pitch and jumped the ref.”

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

Wibaeus’ first actual game he went to was away, in 1993, aged four. “I only remember small fragments,” he said, “but we won 3-1. Remember thinking that there was a massive attendance… Apparently it was about 1600. 

“First game at home I remember was against Halmstad in October 1995. The atmosphere was chaotic. Sat on my dad’s shoulders. Game only lasted for about 20 minutes. A bloke ran onto the pitch and jumped the ref. Loads of angry people. Catastrophic for the club. Great memory though.”

He savours other emotions that accompany following your favourite team.

“You can’t write it down, can you?” he said. “That nervousness. That feeling of impatience right before the game. The rain. The electricity within the crowd just as you enter the stadium. The floodlights. 

“The unbearable defeats and the incredible feeling of a late decisive goal brining home three points to Stockholm. 

“There are many unique experiences and then you have all the great people you get to know when you are involved in a 100 per cent member owned association.”

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

Following football with a camera has given Wibaeus an insight into other aspects of the game which in turn have provided inspiration. 

He highlights:”The visual clash between the volunteer and the billion pound industry of modern football; The conflict between the working class supporter and the international football elite; The contrast between the family friendly fixture at our stadium in the summer and a cold and snowy away game in November eight hours away.”

The culture surrounding Djurgårdens IF has its roots in England says Wibaeus. 

“The British terraces of 80s and 90s have a huge influence on how we sing, act and dress. Of course taste in music and fanzines follow the same lines both in the stadium and in daily life. 

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

“The British terraces of 80s and 90s have a huge influence on how we sing, act and dress. Of course taste in music and fanzines follow the same lines both in the stadium and in daily life.”

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

“Another influence are the ultras of Europe and it’s safe to say that Djurgårdens IF are among the top clubs in Europe.”

The first camera Wibaeus took to a game was his father’s old Nikon F801, of which there are some “blurry images” saved from that 1999 outing. But it was another 14 years before he next went equipped to take pictures. 

“I’ve used anything between my 1.4 million exposure Nikon D4 to a Linhof Technorama 617S, ” he said. “But honestly, my battered Fujifilm X70 is by far the best since it is discreet enough to get in without the stewards having second thoughts.”

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

“You can’t write it down, can you? That nervousness. That feeling of impatience right before the game. The rain. The electricity within the crowd just as you enter the stadium. The floodlights.”

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

He continues to find fresh inspiration for his still and motion photography.

“Websites like Lower Block and the Swedish football magazine Offside are great influences in order to give me new ideas, and to find new angles and perspectives on football and the culture among supporters,” he said.

Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus
Djurgårdens IF Fotboll football fans, Tele2 Arena
© Erik Wibaeus

For anyone at the start of the journey, Wibaeus says: “Learn the basics of photography, only buy used camera gear (start with two fixed lenses), and learn to imitate different styles. This is the best way to find your own.

“And stay curious,” he says. “Always.”

Keep up to date with Erik’s project on Djurgårdens IF by following his Tumblr and Instagram

If you enjoyed that, check out Arvid Gustavsson’s photo documentary on Djurgårdens’s Stockholm rivals Hammarby

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