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Friday, July 12, 2013

Malmö FF, 1949-50






Malmö FF's soccer team won their first Swedish title in 1944. Five years later, they had built such a strong team that they won three titles in a row, and were undefeated for 49 league-matches. The 1949-50 season was their best, winning no less than 20 of their 22 games.

Olympics and World Cup


Life in Sweden just after the Second World War was way better than in most parts of Europe. Sweden stayed neutral, and the country didn’t suffer that much. The league wasn’t postponed and could maintain a higher level than most countries could. Maybe that’s why Swedish soccer had a very successful spell at the world stage, in the years immediately after the war. First they managed to win the Olympic title in London, in 1948. Two years later at the 1950 World Cup, Sweden did lose against host Brazil 7-1, but still claimed the bronze medal at the end.

League title in 1949

Malmö FF, 1948-49
The first great Swedish team from 1945 onwards was Gunnar Nordahl's IFK Norrköping, winning the league four times (1945 until 1948). Then, in the 1948-49 season, Norrköping got off to a bad start and never recovered. Also, star striker Nordahl left for Italy (AC Milan) halfway through the season. This meant Helsingborgs IF and Malmö FF got into a game of musical chairs for the championship. Finally, Malmö FF ended the season with five victories to clinch the title: 2-1, 6-0, 12-0 (three goals by Borje Tapper, Stellan Nilsson and Carl-Erik Palmer, two by Kjell Rosén and one by Egon Jönsson), 5-1 and 4-0.

The 1949-50 season

Topscorer Ingvar Rydell on his way to another goal
At the start of the 1949-50 season, the Swedish Allsvenskan league again lost a few of their best players to Italian clubs. Gunnar Gren (IFK Göteborg) left for AC Milan, and so did Nils Liedholm (IFK Norrköping). Elfsborgs Ake Hjalmarsson went playing for AC Torino. Champion Malmö FF wasn’t affected by this at all, and started the season where they left off a few months earlier: by winning all their matches. On September 11 for example, they crushed IFK Göteborg by 9-2. Only Jönköping Sodra could keep up with Malmö FF. After nine matches, Jönköping Sodra were just four points behind. Then the two teams met on October 9, 1949, at the Malmö-stadium. With a 4-2 win Malmö FF buried all hopes for Jönköping.

Back-to-back victories

Kjell Rosén takes a shot
After that, Malmö FF kept on winning, sometimes by a big margin (5-0 or 5-1), but mostly comfortable with a two or three goals difference. This way the team won seventeen matches in a row. Which gave them a ten point lead over second placed Jonköping Sodra after those seventeen matches. With five matches left, on May 7, 1950 all Malmö FF needed was a draw against Kalmar FF. Of course they won (5-1), and was crowned champion. That victory was number 23 (and number last) in a row. During the rest of the season, Malmö allowed both AIK Solna (3-3) and Helsingborgs (2-2) to take one point away from them. Still, with twenty wins and two draws, Malmö FF was the first team ever to clinch the title without losing a game in the Swedish Allsvenskan (since in 1924). As a matter of fact, until this day no other Swedish team has been able to equal this amazing record. The final standings really show how dominant Malmö was that season:

Malmö FF
22
20
2
0
40 : 4
82 : 21
Jönköping Sodra
22
12
3
7
27 : 17
50 - 37
Helsingborgs IF
22
10
6
6
26 : 18
45 - 38
AIK Solna
22
10
6
6
26 : 18
34 - 31
GAIS
22
7
7
8
21 : 23
34 - 42
IFK Norrköping
22
9
2
11
20 : 24
36 - 45
Elfsborg
22
6
7
9
19 : 25
34 - 45
Djurgårdens IF
22
8
2
12
18 : 26
34 - 39
Kalmar FF
22
5
8
9
18 : 26
25 - 33
Degerfors
22
6
6
10
18 : 26
26 - 35
IFK Göteborg
22
5
5
12
15 : 29
33 - 49
Halmia
22
6
2
14
14 : 30
28 - 46

Erik Nilsson

When looking at Malmö FF’s team roster, it’s remarkable to see that no less than six players were born in 1922, and four in 1921. They were all in the best years of their career, both in experience and in strength. Only goalkeeper Helge Bengtsson and Erik Nilsson (both 33 years at the start of the season) were older, while promising youngster Carl-Erik Palmer (20 years) was the rookie  of the team. Erik Nilsson was voted Swedish player of the year in 1950, Ingvar Rydell was the top goalscorer with 21 goals (number two, Hans Jeppsson (Djurgårdens IF) scored 18 and number three, Karl Simonsson (Jonköping Sodra) managed 16).

Malmö FF’s team roster:

Player
Born
Matches
Goals
Sven Hjertsson
07-03-1924
22

Helge Bengtsson (GK)
19-12-1916
22

Egon Jönsson
08-10-1921
22
15
Karl-Erik ‘Calle’ Palmer
17-04-1929
22
7
Ingvar Gård
06-10-1921
21
1
Arne Månsson
11-11-1925
21

Stellan Nilsson
28-05-1922
19
15
Ingvar Rydell
07-05-1922
19
21
Börje Tapper
20-03-1922
16
11
Kjell Hjertsson
01-08-1922
13
2
Hans Malmström
09-06-1921
13

Kjell Rosén
24-04-1921
10
1
Erik Nilsson
06-08-1916
8

Walfrid Ek
11-07-1922
6
6
Einar Mårtensson
Unknown
2
1
Sune Sandbring
10-04-1928
2

Gustaf Nilsson
20-10-1922
2

Kjell Persson
Unknown
1
2

World Cup 1950

Stellan Nilsson scoring
After the season, the Swedish national team - with eight Malmö FF-players -  left for Brazil, to compete at the 1950 World Cup. They got off to a good start, beating Italy 3-2. Thanks to Hans Jeppsson (2 goals) and Sune Andersson (1 goal) and Helsingborgs goalie, Kalle Svensson, who was nearly unbeatable that day. Svensson also was outstanding in the match against Spain, giving him the nickname ‘Kalle-Rio’.
Although Sweden lost against host Brazil (7-1) and soon to be world champion Uruguay (3-2), they ended the tournament with a bronze medal.
This success immediately started a new exodus of talented soccer players abroad, especially towards Italy. Of the eleven players that beat the Italians in Såo Paolo, two months later six played in Italy, one in France and one in England:

Player
Swedish club in 1949-50
Club in 1950-51
Sune Andersson
AIK Solna
AS Roma (Ita)
Hans Jeppsson
IFK Göteborg
Charlton Athletic (Eng)
Knut Nordahl
IFK Norrköping
AS Roma (Ita)
Lennart Skoglund
AIK Solna
Internazionale Milan (Ita)
Stig Sundqvist
IFK Norrköping
AS Roma (Ita)
Kall Svensson
Helsingborgs IF
Helsingborgs IF
Ingvar Gård
Malmö FF
Sampdoria (Ita)
Stellan Nilsson
Malmö FF
Genoa (Ita)
Lennart Samuelsson
Elfsborg
OGC Nice (Fra)
Erik Nilsson
Malmö FF
Malmö FF
Karl-Erik Palmer
Malmö FF
Malmö FF

Out of the other players of the Swedish squad, Gunnar Johansson (GAIS, to Olympique Marseille, Fra), Brorr Mellberg (AIK Solna, to Genoa, Ita), and Börje Tapper (Malmö FF, to Genoa, Ita) also left Sweden.

The 1950-51 season

So this time around, champion Malmö FF saw three of their international players leaving for Italy. On top of that, Kjell Rosén also said goodbye to Malmö and started playing for AC Torino. Four other players (Hans Malmström, Kjell Hjertsson, Walfrid Ek and Gustaf Nilsson) all packed their bags and left for a club nearby, Helsingborgs IF.  
Even so, the 1950-51 season was always in Malmö's hands, as Karl-Erik Palmer led the team to 21 games without a loss, only losing match number 22 to relegated AIK Solna. A year later, IFK Norrkoping ended Malmö FF’s reign. Still, These three titles in 1948, 1949 and 1950, gave the club two Swedish records, that will be hard to match up to, and probably will never be broken:
* unbeaten during a season;

* 49 consecutive league matches without defeat.