Bye bye Colin

So, a great weekend of football. I know West Ham should be relegated for being such unutterable cheating bastards, and having the Premier League and associated Premiership media circus lick their collective arse all season, but still. That was fantastic. Bye bye Colin!

I went to PP70 vs RoPs at Tammela on Saturday. RoPs are a decent team, a club with a lot of tradition and the northernmost team to have a realistic chance of playing in the top flight. They played in Europe in the 80s and had a job to get some of the games played-my friend talks of bonfires round the pitch and a noon kickoff, but he may be exaggerating.

Speaking of which, we got chatting to the only two RoPs fans at the game, Teemu and Kari. They come from Inari and travel to every game home and away. Teemu has many reindeer and is lucky that his wife can look after them while he is at the football, while Kari’s seal-clubbing business is doing well enough to allow him time off. They were confident about the coming season, despite RoPs’s inconsistent start.

The game was pretty dull it must be said. A dour 0-0 with few chances, although PP70 seemed to have the better of it. After the game we spoke to a few of the RoPs players.

George Chilufya is a Zambian defender who arrived in Rovaniemi seven years ago. He took last year off to be with his son back home in Zambia, but now he’s back in Rovaniemi and hoping to stay for a while. Obviously the cold is something he’s gotten used to. RoPs have 6 Zambians altogether, they must like the snow.

Jon Burklo is one of this blog’s readers, and a decent chap he is too. A Texan, he moved to RoPs this year after playing in Helsinki in 2006. He’s not too keen really. ‘Finnish weather is nice in the south, but not up there. It was snowing this morning when we left.’ I don’t think he’s enjoying the long coach journeys either. I mean, a club like RoPs don’t have much income and they have to travel 9-10 hours to pretty much every away game. That’s not going to be good for their performance, and they don’t have a luxurious and spacious bus, either.

Burklo was missing big city life, that’s for sure. His mate Abeiko Junior Adams was keen to tell us about growing up in Ghana and playing with Michael Essien-life having dealt them quite different hands.

It’s funny how players end up where they do, it seems to depend on having a good or a bad agent to a large extent. Whether RoPs is a good destination is open to question-for a family man like Chilufya it’s a nice place to live, for the young single guys it’s a bit too isolated. I would have done more in depth interviews, but frankly I was a little bit drunk. The first summery football match and a win for Finland in the ice hockey meant a combination of fisu and G&T. Not good for professional journalism.

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10 Responses

  1. Ok, tried posting this once, not sure if it worked (can we get some english directions lol). Anyways, I didn’t mean to paint a poor picture of the north. There’s something to be said for a nice, quiet, quaint place like Rovaniemi, and in fact its quite beautiful. But I do miss the big city, and being a Texan I need a proper summer (hopefully its coming soon, its showing some small signs). It was nice chatting with you after the match though. We’ll have to catch up when we visit again to play TPV!

  2. Jon, the weather will get better, trust me!

    Our summers are fantastic, warm & sunny.

  3. The way i do it is to log into Gmail-since blogger added Finnish the default on most machines is Finnish. If you save your language as English in Gmail or Blogger, then that should sort it out.

    I didn’t mean to make it sound like you hated it either, but the Laplanders do tend to play up to their image. The RoPs fans I spoke to told me they actually lived in Helsinki when I said I’d write about them, but their first story was so much better….

    And yeah, I’ll be at the TPV game. Hope you’ll have time for a pint next time.I also hope to make it up north at some point but I have no idea if that’ll be possible.

  4. the idea of there being a significant number of Zambians playing football in the north of Finland is…. surreal, frankly. I love reading your match reports, it’s such a different world.

  5. Well if you ever manage to make it up here, definitely let me know. If you need a couch to sleep on, your more then welcome. Keep the reports coming, I always enjoy them!

  6. Thank you both, I enjoy writing them.

    And Jon, I may well take you up on that. If you fancy staying down here after the TPV game you’re more than welcome to use our couch too.

  7. Noon kickoff was reality when RoPS played against their Albanian opponent in Cup-winners cup in late 80s. That was due to the lack of proper lights – and since the winter days especially in north are so short that was the only chance to play the matches. Still, over 8000 spectators, too bad for you Jon that there ain’t gonna be that many this summer.

    But I bet you’ll love summer in Lapland. It may be quite short but it’s BIGGER than in Texas since the sun never sets.

    The reason there are so many Zambians in RoPS is a nice little story. RoPS strong man Jouko Kiistala watched the World Cup in Italy and was impressed by Cameroon and especially Roger Milla. Then he got the idea to get African players to RoPS (before that the foreigners in Rovaniemi were mostly British). It took a few years and then one of Kiistala’s friends in London knew a Zambian guy who knew Zambian players (I think it went like this). So Zeddy Saileti and Emmanuel Siwale came to the Arctic Circle in 1994. Siwale palyed for a few seasons and Zeddy is still here – and the number one favourite to all RoPS-fans. In total there’s been 13 Zambians in RoPS and quite a few of them were excellent players to Veikkausliiga.

  8. Thank you woland, that’s a great story. Like spanglyprincess said, it’s a little bit strange to imagine so many Africans playing second tier football in Lapland, it’s good to know the link up is so long established and apparently successful.

  9. […] countries, for many different reasons and with many different backgrounds. We’ve covered the Zambians at RoPs, but this post is about a success story from last […]

  10. […] when bananas were thrown at RoPS players at the end of their game against HJK. RoPS have signed a number of Africans over the years. Some have become firm favourites, like Zeddy Saileti who itook on new coaching […]

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