Ray Tornkvist is a top Groundhopper in Europe with an impressive tally of games in his travel book. You also have several visits to Leicester, both to Filbert Street, what we used to call Walkers Stadium, now King Power, mostly going to games with his favorite team Leeds on the opposite side, but also been watching Leicester in other events and a friendly many years ago away to Woking.Embed from Getty Images
With a possible “Supporters Hall of Fame” or a “Groundhopper Top of the Pops” you would certainly think about Ray Tornkvist from Oslo, Norway. His travels goes from the minor grounds of Norwegian third tier football to the highlands of Scotland and travelling on a windy and rainy day to Roots Hall to watch Southend United at home. Getting “the late” hot dog, putting on loads of mustard, just to get it down!
To get to a tally of 4500, ha has lived in Manchester and Leeds for three years and made around 1000 of his visits to English grounds. Two trips to Elland Road is just counting as one, so you can imagine his total.Embed from Getty Images
Ray recalls a visit to Leicester on the opening day of their new stadium, being in the terraces for that special game watching his former Leeds favorite Brian Deane hammering in both goals as Leicester starts their ride back to Premier League action on that day in August 2002.
Fascination in his stories, as he tells about travels and special events and happenings, once in the Netherlands missing a buss to a game between Wilhelm II and Twente, borrowing a bicycle at the the train station, and doing an 8km ride, in the dark, to get to the game in time.
Asking about other incidents happening and doing desperate acts to get to see that game you have scheduled, he tells about a couple of other situations where stadiums are sold out, or areas are blocked or closed, and with an open mind he did tell the guards he was a Norwegian journalist and every door was opened just to get him into stadium, and once he was placed among the photographs, laughing about it and just thinking of those episodes afterwards being just a lot of fun.
His record of games in a day, is five, doing that in Berlin, being in the attendance of their Sunday League games. It’s not easy to be able to get five, but with a bit of planning your are able to do it.Embed from Getty Images
So what about favorite meals at the ground, as a Norwegian we have a bit of habit or tradition to eat hot dogs and having a beer or a soda along. Ray says he is not a hot dog lover, but of course with not much else to get, he also grab one or two just to get his tummy silent.
Not much to tell really, most of it doesn’t taste “very good” but the sousages from Uli Hoeness Wurstfabrik are something special. The former Bayern Munich forward and now among their board members also have an ownership in that type of trade and with that club as a main distributor you always will be able to get your brand known and probably doing a bit of product development over the years.
Asking him about grounds in England and naming his favorites, not really surprisingly leaving Leicester City out of his memories, naming of course Elland Road as a special one, St. James Park i also up there, and from a neutral perspective we certainly agree, the home of Newcastle United is a special place, told by many who have been there and experienced the atmosphere.
He also points out Ipswich Town, Birmingham City, Harrogate Town and Bradford City among his favorites, saying it’s all down to the memories of the games, the fans and of course also the way people act and how the day has been.Embed from Getty Images
Ray also tells us that he have a number of rules and guidelines when making his travels and visits and it’s important to have a bit of a plan as well. Match tickets must be ordered before you travel, try to be out in time, one hour at least before kick-off, it’s not a problem to be early at the ground.
Try to stay sober and be polite, try to get a bit of knowledge about the place you visit, the teams and if you speak to locals it’s always good to know a bit about their “home”. It’s always important to check the local papers, or the club website during the day or the day before just to be sure that the game is going as planned.
He also reads a great number of magazines and year books just to be up to date with all teams and leagues and of course following up on fixtures, stats and everything that goes along. Sky Sports and BBC websites are visited on a daily basis. Kicker is the favorite website for German football.
Ray is still also on paper, with sonderhefts and yearbooks being bought, greatly ordered in his private library which is a grand collection of all types of football books.
To keep up the following and grand fanbase of British football in Scandinavia and especially Norway, a union was established many years ago, and the SBF, is of course something Ray is part of and has been for decades, being a member on the board and doing a key job.
Rays passion for football is rare and his way of following the game makes it worth to go on as well, not only being super positive about his favorite club Leeds United, but also watching Leicester City both home and away.