GAIS FC: Swedish National Football Treasure
Gais fc (Göteborgs Atlet- & Idrottssällskap) is a football club from Gothenburg. The club was formed on March 11, 1894 and started its football business in 1897. Gais fc has become Swedish champion in football four times. On two occasions, they have also won the Allsvenskan without being awarded the Swedish Championship badge. The club goes by the nickname “The Mackerel” because their green-black striped shirts and white pants and socks are reminiscent of the mackerel’s striped back and white belly. During the 1950s, however, the team played in green and white, green jerseys with white sleeves and white pants (due to the pattern, the jersey was called the Arsenal jersey).
Göteborgs Atlet- & Idrottssällskap
The Gothenburg Athletics and Sports Society (Göteborgs Atlet- & Idrottssällskap) was founded on 11 March 1894 at Edlund’s patisserie and café on Storgatan 7 in Vasastaden in Gothenburg and was Gothenburg’s first club for boys from the working class. Among the founders was weightlifter Carl “Våran” Gustafsson, one of the city’s biggest sports stars in the 1890s. To begin with, the club organized competitions and exercises in general sports, wrestling and weightlifting. Gustafsson took over the presidency in 1895, and he was a very active chairman, who also instructed the young people and participated in the training.
In 1897, the club started with football, and in its first match, the club lost to Örgryte IS 2-0. The following year they met ÖIS in six one-hour matches, and lost with the total goal difference 26-0. Some of the members did not appreciate that the “brutal game” was taken up in the club, and there were internal rifts. After that they took over the name Gais (Gais fc) or Göteborgs Atlet- & Idrottssällskap. In the following years, the results were pale for the club. Örgryte IS was completely dominant in Gothenburg football, and Gai’s biggest success was a draw, 2–2, against ÖIS in 1904. In the years 1907–08, the club had no documented activities.
Between 1909 and 1923, the club developed from a small neighborhood club to a large club with national success. The chairmanship of the club was taken over in 1909 by Axel Svensson, who took command of the club and slowly but purposefully built up the football section. Svensson remained chairman until 1923.
In 1909, the football section got a boost when Frigga’s football team (including the brothers Victor and Joel Björkman) joined Gais Football. Gai’s football team was led by Joel Björkman, who was a real strategist on the field and was appointed both team captain and board member. The 1915/1916 season was a breakthrough for the club. The national team was invited to meet Djurgården in Stockholm on August 16, 1915, and despite the Stockholmers winning 4-2, the match led to Gais fc being invited to play in the Swedish series. In addition to the Björkman brothers, Gais played profiles such as Fridolf Jonsson and Fritiof Hillén, who in 1917 became the team’s first national team member. In 1915, Albert “Abben” Olsson also made his debut in Gais Football, and the following year Nils Karlsson. Although Gais Football finished in fourth place (among a total of six teams), it was not allowed to continue in the series because they wanted a maximum of two teams from the same city in the league. And since IFK Gothenburg and Örgryte were already there, Gais had to quit. During the hard war year 1918, all comics were down.
At the same time, the time around the end of the First World War was also the beginning of Gai’s heyday, where the club until the mid – 1930s had 27 players in the national team. After the war, ordinary teams could be drafted again, and Ullevi was also given access. In 1919, FCGais became Swedish champion in football for the first time by winning the Swedish championship. In the final, the favorite Djurgården was defeated 4-1 at Stockholm’s stadium. Hill Hillen on the left side and the 18-year-old right-hander Rune Wenzel and the game organizer “Abben” Olsson formed the backbone of the team. In 1922, Gais won his second Swedish Championship gold, also this time at Stockholm’s stadium. Now the team has been strengthened in the form of Douglas Krook (from Jonsered) and center half Gunnar Holmberg. From 1921 until the start of the Allsvenskan in 1924, Gais Fotboll also got to participate in the Swedish series again where the team came 2nd (21/22), 1st (22/23) and 2nd (23/24).
When the Allsvenskan entered its first season in 1924/1925, Gais Fotboll was involved and won the league with 38 points, two points ahead of IFK Gothenburg. The team had lost a single match throughout the season (against IFK) and had only conceded 16 goals. Tragically, hill Konrad Hirsch died after the autumn season at just 24 years old. He was replaced by Herbert Lundgren (from Lundby) who together with Gunnar Zacharoff would form the back pair during the rest of the 20s. Both Lundgren and Zacharoff were also important guarantors for the series winners in 1927 and 1931 and until 1935 the team finished at least in fifth place. The Allsvenskan victories in 1925 and 1927 are not counted as an official Swedish Championship gold in part because the Swedish Football Association organized the official championship in football as a cup tournament until 1925. Only since the 1930/31 season is the Allsvenskan champion also the winner of the Swedish Championship gold. Thus, the Allsvenskan victory in 1931 is counted as Gai’s first Swedish Championship gold in the Allsvenskan.
During the first half of the 1930s, however, several big stars left the team such as Wenzel, Holmberg, “Abben” Olsson, Zacharoff and Lundgren at the same time as the center star “Long-John” Nilsson disappeared to AIK, just like the national team player “Carnera” Andersson. In 1938, Gais Fotboll left the Allsvenskan and spent three years in Division II before the team managed to get to the Allsvenskan again and ended the season 1941/42 with a sensational second place behind IFK Gothenburg. The new stars in the team were the flexible “Jack” Jakobsson together with left back Folke Lind and defender Sixten “Tjärpapp” Rosenqvist. Folke Lind also became a hero in 1942 when he in the cup final against Elfsborg nodded in the winning goal after a concussion he had received in the same match. In the late 1940s, Willy Wolff, suspected of having a background as a Nazi and with unclear nationality, became the coach of Gais Fotboll. He considered that the team was in poor condition and thus advocated hard cardio training. During his time, new stars emerged, such as right-hander Egon “Atom-Egon” Johnsson and center-half Gunnar Johansson, who also got to play the World Cup in Brazil. Gaisfc was facing a promising future but everything fell apart when Wolff left Sweden and sold Johnsson and Johansson to France. “Tjärpapp” Rosenkvist took over as coach and managed to win the Swedish Championship gold in 1954 with players like Hasse Olsson and the shooting king Karl-Alfred Jakobsson. They won after a very even series where Helsingborg and Degerfors only had one point less at the end of the season.
Since the 1950s, Gaisfc has been a team that often moved back and forth between the Allsvenskan and lower series. After winning the Allsvenskan in 1954, the team ended up in third last place in 1955, which meant relegation. The rule that three teams were relegated only applied for two seasons, 1953/1954 and 1954/1955. Then they returned to the rule with two relegated teams.
In 1963, Gai won the qualifier and was thus back in the Allsvenskan in 1964, but left again despite the fact that coach Gunnar Gren went in and played during the autumn. In 1965, Gais returned to the Allsvenskan and secured his promotion after a victory against Grimsås IF. Among the profiles in Gais fc in the 1960s were Jan Olsson and Kurt Axelsson who became both national team players and foreign professionals. In 1969, four gaisers played in the national team when Hasse Johansson and Sten Pålsson were also taken out by the national team captain Orvar Bergmark. In 1970, Eine Fredriksson was recruited as an advanced national team player.
The game in lower divisions has been interspersed with some higher Allsvenskan placements, such as a fourth place in 1974. In the late 1970s, Gaisfc had major problems with the economy.
During the derby between Gais Football and IFK Gothenburg on May 20, 1976, 50,690 spectators came to Ullevi, which was an audience record for the then Division II, corresponding to today’s Superettan.
In the game year 1980, Gais fc was on his way up in the Allsvenskan, but was passed by Örgryte in the final battle. The following year, the team finished last in the then Division II.
In the 1982-1983 season, Gais played in the third division.
GAIS, which was in the then Division II South, recruited Samir Bakaou in the spring of 1984. In 1985, Bakaou played in midfield with defensive player Lenna Kreivi and had a good collaboration with top forwards Ulf Köhl and Steve Gardner; together they were called “the golden triangle”. Bakaou won the shooting league in the southern second with 20 goals and was named the best player in the series. Gais qualified for the Allsvenskan against Djurgården, but fell on penalties after two draws.
Under coach Bo Falk, Gaisfc, with a game system characterized by long balls, achieved success in the late 1980s. The big profile was Samir Bakaou. In 1988, Gaisfc joined the Allsvenskan again. Gais eventually finished eighth in the series and stayed. Bakaou scored ten goals and became the team’s top scorer.
In 1989, Gais fought for a medal in the Allsvenskan. The team lost the semifinal against Malmö FF, but took a place in the UEFA Cup 1990/1991.
After Gais left the Allsvenskan in 1992, Bosse Falk became club director of Gais in 1993. He returned as Gais coach for a short stay in 1996 to try to save Gais in the then division I south.
Gais fc played 1997-1998 in Division II.
In the 2020 season, FC Gais played in the Superettan under the leadership of head coach Stefan Jacobsson. The first half of the season went hard for the team, which had a hard time scoring points. The second half, however, became much more productive and they made a strong effort as a team. The addition of Adnan Maric to the team and the change of game idea in the middle of the season was a clear factor in why Gais ended the season so strongly. Gais Fotboll finished the season in tenth place, which meant that the team got to play in the Superettan also in the 2021 season.
According to f.d. chairman Jonas Andersson, FC Gais had a good pre-season ahead of the 2021 season, and the team started the series well with two wins and a draw, but the season ended in failure. The team ended up in the qualifiers and then lost the relegation qualifier against Dalkurd FF, which means that the team plays in Ettan Södra season 2022. Jonas Andersson and Tony Balogh (vice chairman of the Mackerel) believe that it was a mixture of mistakes and bad luck that was behind the relegation. They point out that midfielder Aiham Ousou was sold after eleven games and that goal scorer Richard Yarsuvat broke his foot and that Adnan Maric could only play just under half of all matches due to injuries. After the relegation, Jonas Andersson and Jonas Östergaard resigned, something that the supporters had demanded several times during the season.
The 2022 season was expected to be financially tough for the association, as the board already during a members’ meeting in December 2021 announced that it expected sales to be halved. The 2022 season, however, started sportingly well; after 14 rounds played, GAIS FC led the series when the series entered the summer break. In addition, GAIS won the match against Lindome GIF on 28 June in the Swedish Cup’s first qualifying round.