It’s a household divided.
While Huddersfield Town fan Ian Berry will be rooting for England in today’s World Cup quarter final tie against Sweden, his Swedish-born wife Asa will be cheering on the boys in yellow and blue.
And the couple’s four-year-old son Elliott, who was born in Helsingborg, Sweden, is caught in the middle!
Huddersfield-born artist Ian, who is renowned for creating paintings and installations using discarded denim, married Asa in Sweden on July 4 three years ago in a denim-themed wedding. He said: “It was quite a weird wedding anniversary to suddenly have Sweden and England thrown together.
“We’ve already been arguing who Elliott should support. He thinks all football is called ‘Huddersfield’ anyway. At least he’ll have one team in the semi-final, although I’ll probably end up supporting the opposition if it’s Sweden!
“Asa has been telling me what her friends and the Swedish media are saying. They have a tabloid media that compares to ours! I’ve had a lot of banter messages and talk of ‘Sweden v Brexit’.
“The wedding was a great Anglo-Svensk event, but this is now a big divide.”
Said Ian: “I just took my kid to school and on the way when asked who will win, he was – er ahem – well-trained in saying England. When I asked him who will win in front of someone else, he came out with ‘Sweden.’ She has obviously bribed him more!”
Ian added: “While they may be our bogey side, a very inexperienced England side lost the last time where most were making their debuts and then that Zlatan goal. We did, however, win the last competitive fixture with them – and don’t I know it!
“I was living in Sweden then for the 2012 Euros and hosted the party at our place – 25 Swedes and two English, another ex pat friend. We had the whole place decked in union flags and Swedish flags. They took the lead and gave me a lot of banter, but they had the taste for victory and had it snatched away from them thanks to that late Welbeck winner. The final whistle went and I’ve never seen as many people leave so quick. I was trying to convince them to stay, but it was an exodus and my party ended suddenly.”
Ian, who lived in Sweden for five years from 2010, when he followed Malmo, said Sweden was a football-mad country despite being proficient in other sports like ice hockey, handball and the Winter Olympics.
He said: “When I lived there, it was the number one place on earth to watch the Premier League by how many games were screened. Everyone had a Premier League club, it became annoying when I said I was a Huddersfield Town fan and they said ‘oh yeah, but who in the Premier League?’ Oh, how times have changed.”
“The Swedes did know Huddersfield well,” he said. “Back then, we were League One – as we were often on their ‘tips’ for their pools that everyone plays for something like 10 games. I always used to get asked my prediction come Saturday morning. As people who do the accumulators know, Huddersfield often spoiled it for them!”
Asked her prediction for Sweden match, Asa said: “I think it could be lots of goals to England or a 1-0 in extra time to Sweden.
“It would be nice to get to the semi-finals as I fell asleep in 1994 as the game was late on TV as it was in the USA. But I remember all the buzz and everyone talking about it since!”
And Ian’s pre-match pep talk? “If I had a chance to talk to Gareth Southgate now, I’d tell him this is more than getting to the semis, more than how many more beers will be sold, what it will do for national pride and the economy – this is about my bragging rights in my house and so my Whatsapp isn’t filled with smirking Swedes. And next time, take Hogg!”
As the Swedes might say: “Fotboll kommer hem.” (footballs coming home).