In Motion

In the 1994 World Cup semi-final, an 80th minute strike from Brazilian star Romario denied 10-man Sweden a place in the final. Sweden went on to thrash Bulgaria 4-0 in the third place play-off at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena to complete a glorious summer for Swedish football – the likes of which they had not seen since the days of Pele. The tournament announced several heroes of Swedish football, such as Henrik Larsson, Martin Dahlin, Tomas Brolin & Kenny Andersson. Sweden scored more goals than any other team in the tournament, and the deeds of the players are part of Swedish football’s national heritage. It is held close to every football fan’s heart. Proof in these parts that anything is possible (almost).

A Swedish TV literature program, Hej Litteraturen has revealed a little known fact about the inspiration behind the performance of the national football team in that famous summer of 1994 – about the role of a poet in Swedish football history. During the tournament in the United States, manager Tommy Svensson gathered the players and read a poem by Swedish poet Karin Boye. The poem was called “I rörelse” (In Motion). Several players who were interviewed for the program recalled the manager reading the poem to them (some of them even reciting some of the lines). They recalled feeling slightly odd about the manager reading out a poem to the team during the biggest sporting event in the world. But they all recalled it being a special moment. Svensson was also interviewed. He admitted to having little interest in poetry and his decision to read the poem was on a whim. He wasn’t really sure what he was doing. But something in the poem made a connection. Most probably in the way that poetry does. First, by humbling you, and then, by lighting a fire inside you – a spark that makes you wonder about something new. And start believing in it.

And so he read it to a team of football players.

In Motion, by Karin Boye  (English Translation by David McDuff)

The sated day is never first.

The best day is a day of thirst.

Yes, there is goal and meaning in our path –

but it’s the way that is the labour’s worth.

The best goal is a night-long rest,

fire lit, and bread broken in haste.

In places where one sleeps but once,

sleep is secure, dreams full of songs.

Strike camp, strike camp! The new day shows its light.

Our great adventure has no end in sight.

About rob scott

Rob Scott (aka Haiku Bob) is a peripatetic haiku poet who calls Victoria Park home. He writes haiku in between teaching whisky and drinking English, or something like that.


  1. John Butler says

    Great stuff HB

    Good to hear from you in the far far north.

  2. HB – beautiful. Could be describing Ned Kelly’s life.

    Has the Magpie Army gathered some numbers in Sweden?

  3. HB,good to note you are out and about ready for the big thaw.

    Your story is interesting. I remember 1994 World Cup. The Swedes had popular support.

    Not many people are aware of the uncanny similarity to the Magpie 2010 premiership.

    Apparently they were inspired to success in the replay by a the pre match reading of a poem (written by the leadership group during the previous week).

    I have managed to get a copy and am happy to share it with the Knacker fraternity.

    “Cumon fellas yous cn do it’
    doan let them mungrels say yous blewit,

    win this one for Eddie an Mick’
    stick it up them uver pricks,

    yous cn start a empire ere,
    too bloody right, no bloody fear,

    ittem ard an ittem good,
    no prizzners took at Collywood,

    an arfta woods we’ll ave a party,
    jus work’n class, not arty farty”.

  4. Phantom – very touching. Reminds me of my U16 coach who used to start every sentence with “Youse- a”.

    Got us to a flag, but.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Very funny, Phantom. Thought you were serious for a second.

    Have been reading ‘Invictus’, the story of Mandela’s release, his rise to power and championing of the Springboks leading into the ’95 WC in order to gain Afrikaaner support. Wearing of the Bok jumper on the day of the final against NZ was a master stroke.

    Can’t recall the words to the poem ‘Invictus’, however, Mandela read it everyday in prison. Book now a film, of course.

  6. John Butler says


    You couldn’t run a weekly course in Magpie vernacular verse could you? I feel in need of some cultcha.

    Just kiddin’ HB. :)

    Perhaps (a la Arma) we could pair it with some Sticks oratorio.

  7. Hi

    I saw Spinal Maiden, I mean Iron Maiden last night. (Free ticket, what can I say). Their fan base is similar to the Pies fan base; very tribal, monosyllabic, and dentally impaired. A question for the more learned of Almanacers: have there been any studies, dissertations or wild assumptions determining the correlation between both fan bases?

  8. Damo Balassone says

    Lovely stuff HB. The line:

    “In places where one sleeps but once / sleep is secure, dreams full of songs”

    really struck a chord with me.

    Not sure if you remember, but at that World Cup whenever K. Andersson scored a goal he gave the Australian Rules goal umpire salute. It was very popular and I think he scored 5 for the tournament.

  9. Damo – I do remember Andersson’s scoring celebration. It still get’s talked about over here.

  10. Alovesupreme says

    Wonderful anecdote (as is Phantom’s response). The Swedish national team did have an earlier glorious WC, and technically it was in the time of Pele, but it was at his WC debut aged 17 in 1958. He introduced himself in spectacular fashion, capping wonderful performances with seven goals in just four matches (he didn’t play until the last of the first round matches). The Swedes were the bit players in the final, demolished by the Brazilians, 5-2. That occasion probably represented a lesser achievement than 1994, as Sweden was the host nation in ’58.
    Sweden’s only other experience of significant soccer success was Malmo’s (need an umlaut on the ‘o’)run to the European Cup final in 1979, where they inevitably went down to Cloughie’s Forest by a solitary goal. Given that the Swedish League was essentially semi-professional at the time, that was a considerably achievement. Malmo were managed by Roy Hodgson recently axed from Liverpool, and subsequently finding a bolt-hole at West Brom.
    It’s virtually certain that there will be no repeat of a Swedish club side getting anywhere near the Final of the Champions League since its conversion from knock-out, to mini-League format

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