Yes, it was the match of the season so far

TPS TamU 1 – 3
FC Lahti FC Viikingit 0 – 2
TamU 11 26
TPS 11 20
FC Haka 10 20
FC Honka 10 16
MyPa 11 16
HJK 11 15
FC Lahti 10 14
FF Jaro 10 12
FC KooTeePee 10 11
FC Viikingit 10 11
VPS 11 10
FC Inter 10 9
AC Oulu 11 9
IFK Mariehamn 10 8

Great performance from Tampere yesterday, making a mockery of my worries about their fragility. They got quite a battering in the first half as TPS are a big, strong, physical team, but they withstood the pressure. When Mikko Kaven saved a dubiously awarded penalty it seemed like TPS didn’t have much left after that, and Tampere showed why they are the champions.

The game was spoiled somewhat by a stupid red card on the hour mark. It looked like a 50-50 to me, and a possible yellow card, but instead the referee Tony Asuma showed a straight red. Great for Tampere United, the expanded space and holes in the TPS defence were well suited to their counter attacks, but it rather killed the match.

It was a big crowd, swelled by a fair few teams who are taking part in the Aura Cup, a youth tournament going on this week in Turku. But even allowing for that, 7,811 people in a proper football ground (even without the two end stands) makes for a good atmosphere and feels like a big match. I can’t help but point out that the same number of people at Ratina Stadium would be quite a miserable experience, leaving the stadium less than half full and the atmosphere flat. I don’t know who owns Veritas Stadium, but if it is Turku City Council they are doing a fine job and could teach Tampere a thing or two.

One of the Aura Cup teams present was the Hammarby 12 year olds. Football in these parts is a very egalitarian pursuit, and I have heard several Nordic youth coaches moan about the philosophy that says you always play for your local club, everyone plays for an equal amount of time, nobody is better than anyone else and so on. In Finland it’s called ‘kaikki pelaa’, ‘everyone plays’.

The Hammarby lads are an elite team, though. They had been selected as the best youngsters in the area and were hammering everyone out of sight at the Aura Cup. Their coaches were keen to play the big foreign clubs to see how good their boys really are, as there isn’t much to compete with locally.

They were sitting just to my right, and it was interesting on several levels to watch how they behaved. Firstly there was a Finnish girls team next to them, and throught the game there was some pre-adolescent flirting going on, getting more and more boisterous until the girls coaches decided enough was enough and took them back to their digs. Swedish footballers will surely have to deal with plenty of this kind of attention, and what better place to educate them than Finland?

After the game the Hammarby kids started shouting at the Tampere United fans, ‘United!’ and so on. Sinikaarti responded with ‘heja heja Hammarby’, and of course they knew to answer with ‘heja heja heja bajen’. One of the guys said that Tampere kids would have no idea how to support their team like that, and I agree.

The problem is that although they go to games and support Tampere United, they sit several kilometres away from the people who sing. Until Tampere get a smaller stadium, allow people to sit in the main stand for less than 15 euros, or start attracting 15,000 people to games, kids are never going to have the same affinity with the club as those that grow up going to Söderstadion. Simple as that.

Highlights here.

European draws

Tampere United have drawn Murata from San Marino in the first qualifying round of the Champions League. A mighty relief for them giving them near-certain progression to the second qualifying round where they will face Levski Sofia. Each round is worth 150,000euro, so it’s not like the club wanted to draw Dinamo Zagreb for the big occasion.

Full draw is here.

In the UEFA Cup, Haka will go to Sunny Rhyl, MyPa face the Faroese side EB/Streymur and HJK will play FC Etzella, from Luxembourg. I guess all three will be confident of pregression.

Match of the season so far

TamU 10 23
TPS 10 20
FC Haka 10 20
FC Honka 10 16
MyPa 11 16
HJK 11 15
FC Lahti 9 14
FF Jaro 10 12
FC KooTeePee 10 11
VPS 11 10
FC Inter 10 9
AC Oulu 11 9
FC Viikingit 9 8
IFK Mariehamn 10 8

Yesterday’s results:

FC Inter HJK 1 – 1
FC Haka AC Oulu 2 – 0
VPS FC KooTeePee 1 – 0


TPS-Tampere is going to be pretty big tonight. It’s the kind of match Tampere lost regularly last season, or at least failed to take advantage of, but were never really punished for. I don’t think they’ll be so lucky this time, as TPS are really hitting some form.

My west coast source tells me that Armand One is proving to be a formidable attacking threat, even if he ‘doesn’t need to be too mobile to do his job’. I’m presuming that means the sausage stands are kept at pitch level to motivate the hefty Frenchman.

Tampere are a strange team. They seem to lack a bit of killer instinct, team spirit, or just general motivation. Niemi is in the team and still has the vestiges of his link-up play from last season, but surely Daniel Nwoke has to get a chance soon. Niemi needs the competition.

Sakari Saarinen is a shadow of his former self, and looks much less fit than he was last season. Antti Pohja is playing well, but I just get the feeling that might not be enough this year. Tonight will be a good indicator of how the league will go, but I have a sneaking feeling that Mixu is going to push all the way this time. He has a team with (I’m told) very good spirit, he has enough money to make new acquisitions when necessary, and he and his team have the hunger that might just be missing from Tampere.

Lagerboom goes Alemania

Just some recent personnel happenings:

Of Finnish internationals, Paulus Roiha moves from ADO Den Haag to Ujpest, Budapest, and Markus Heikkinen from the beautiful airport city of Luton to the ugly Habsburgian relic of Vienna. Pekka Lagerblom hops from FC Köln to Alemannia Aachen and Aki “an Armenian thumb up my arse” Riihilahti joins FF Malmö’s finnjävels [sorry, his fellow specimen in Djurgården, to be exact] by leaving Kaiserslautern.

In Veikkausliiga, HJK’s Farid Ghazi has retired from football and returned to Algeria, citing family reasons. In Ykkönen, KPV have signed Tuomas Uusimäki – defensive midfielder with five appearances in national team – who has played last six years in Sweden and Austria but returned now to his native Kokkola, also citing family reasons.

AC Oulu have sacked Slatni & Banduliev, two foreigners.

Suomen Cup, sixth round

Full results from the sixth round can be found here. Shocks were thin on the ground, but Jippo beat Viikingit. Jippo have a 16 year old player called Lauri Dalla Valle who is causing excitement among some people here. He had options to go abroad but decided to stay in Joensuu, hitherto famous only for having a lot of violent skinheads. If he can change the town’s image I’m sure they’ll be very happy.

Summer jobs?

Hyvää Juhanustää!

Runningball are now recruiting scouts to cover ykkonen games. If there’s an ykkonen team near you and you fancy getting paid to watch football, contact for more information (a brief personal introduction in English or Swedish is appreciated).

The game is broken down to simple commands such as GOAL, CR, FK, PEN, YC, and also AT (attacks) and DANGER/SAFE depending on the position of the ball and you get to use a PDA

for sending the commands to RunningBall’s server. The payment is €55 and the company also pays for the entrance fee.

Great film on tonight

For my Finnish readers:

YLE2 has an excellent documentary on tonight. It’s called Fucking Sheffield and it is on at 11:30pm. Watch it if you can. Here’s a review from

The team behind the award winning 1995 documentary Tales From A Hard City, namely director Kim Flitcroft and producer Alex Usbourne, have returned to that film’s core themes (drug use and its wider impact, the dark side of Sheffield life) for their latest collaboration, the more succinctly titled Fucking Sheffield.

Rather than look at the city as a whole, addressing its social and environmental problems in turn, Flitcroft has opted for a more personal approach, focusing on the lives of four ordinary working class Sheffielders, each facing different obstacles in their lives and careers. Mick is an unemployed heroin addict who dreams of resuscitating his old Vespa scooter for one last trip to Cleethorpes. Cassi is a pregnant lapdancer facing something of a career crossroads, with aspirations of a career in the music business. Stevlor is a photographer working on a book of pseudo-arty topless/nude/bikini shots which he hopes will enhance the reputation of Sheffield’s female population. And Glen, who appeared as a car thief and heroin addict in Tales From A Hard City, is now grown up, clean, and looking for work.

In choosing to film the lives of four ordinary people, and to present the results without any real narrative or commentary, the team behind Fucking Sheffield could have found themselves stuck with an incredibly dull end product. Fortunately, two of the four characters came good, with Stevlor providing comedy and seediness in equal measures and Mick stealing the show. During the course of the film we see him pestering his family for money, selling his laminate flooring for a fix, and spending a considerable chunk of his weekly budget on stickers for his beloved Vespa, seemingly the only possession he hasn’t sold to fund his habit. For all his failings along the way, his stuttering journey towards getting a methadone script and reviving the fortunes of his scooter is a truly heartwarming one, and certainly the main reason behind this film’s success.

It’s difficult to ascertain what kind of a release and exposure Fucking Sheffield will receive outside of its native South Yorkshire but, as one of the highlights of the city’s recent documentary festival, it certainly deserves a wider audience. If you get the chance, it’s certainly worth the 80 minutes of your time.

Betting on Finnish football

Just been perusing the gaming pages of a turf accountant. Apparently, you can bet on games in this league, which I can’t imagine is of any interest to anybody except the friends and family of those involved.

I’ve talked a bit before about the discrepency in odds between the Finnish government and private bookmakers. This time I just wanted to make sure everyone gets their pitkavetos right.

My tips are for Veikkausliiga though, as I can’t provide much in the way of assistance to those wanting to wager on Kolmonen. But I will say that 3.2 is a very good price for a draw at the Wiklof Holding arena, where IFK Mariehamn take on MyPa on Monday. They’ve drawn 5 of 8 matches this season, and don’t have a great record at home, while MyPa have drawn 3 of 5 away from home this year.

While most of MIFK’s draws have come away from home, I reckon the game after midsummer will be a pretty even affair, possibly not because the players are still hungover.

Jonas Emet, cursed by FiF

After my big build up, the poor lad didn’t get much of a look in and was substituted. Ah well, never mind. As the current ‘jewel’ of Jaro’s academy, expectations are high but he’s only 19. No reason to get over excited just yet. Following in the footsteps of the Eremenko brothers could be a bit of a mixed blessing, although I wouldn’t quite call it a poisoned chalice.

Weekend’s highlights are here.

Congratulations are due to HJK, as they celebrated finally winning a home game with some rather over the top festivities. Planning them in advance was a bit disrespectful to Haka, though.

The TamU-Jaro game was strange. Tampere United looked dominant as usual, incisive when necessary, but strangely sterile. The defensive fragilities were still evident, and and an own goal against the run of play is not the kind of thing that happened so often last season. Coming after Saarinen’s failure to play in Nwoke at Haka cost them two points, maybe these things are indicative of an underlying problem affecting their consistency?

Still, they’re top of the league and winning games. Conceding a goal and drawing a local derby with another title chasing team are not usually cause for concern so early in the season, but TPS are hitting some good form and the game at Veritas on the 29th will be tough. Once again, Tampere have the chance to pull clear, but then they had the same chances last season. I think any failures to capitalise on these chances will be punished this season, as Mixu seems to be building some good team spirit down there.

Now to the important stuff. Piracaia has been in Finland for 15 years, starting his career at the now defunct FC Jazz in Pori. He’s obviously a good player and won a title in 1996 with the Pori club, named after a Jazz festival (or is it the other way around?). He’s 37 now, but still sprightly, and with an array of taunts from the opposing fans. No idea why, but they were singing about his propensity to drink, and ocasionally drive after having done so. Any explanations are most welcome, this is the kind of stuff I like.

The other bit of ‘banter’ from the game was Jarkko Wiss’s celebration, cupping an ear to the Jaro Sällskapet people. He’d played there for a year and then moved to HJK, so I can understand their animosity (if that was the reason). Then he moved to Molde before the famous HJK year in the CL group stages, and due to his poor transfers was doomed to playing for Carlton Palmer from that point on. I reckon the poor guy is still scarred by the experience.

Jakobstad Rost Fri?

IFK Mariehamn – TPS 0 – 3
HJK – FC Haka 2 – 1
TamU – FF Jaro 2 – 1
MyPa – FC Inter 1 – 3
AC Oulu – FC KooTeePee 1 – 2

Is it really true they’re named after stainless steel? If so, I will have a good deal more sympathy for them. Stainless steel being, of course, a Sheffield invention.

Got visitors arriving very soon, and will be pretty busy for the next week. I’ll try and post a bit about a great performance from Zeddy Sailetti and RoPs against TPV yesterday, and a bit about Jarkko Wiss’s animosity towards the Jaro fans, and about the little Brazilian winger who according to Sinikaarti likes a drink, but I sense that I may not have time.

The highlights aren’t on the website yet, I will put them up tomorrow morning. As it is, I have English beer, marmite and wensleydale cheese arriving in my house any minute. And, like, my sister and her family. Which is nice too.