JJK – KuPS 4-0

Ykkönen’s top clash, what was supposed to be a tight Lake District derby, turned out an absolute hammering. The main purpose of my visit to the home region was a stag party on Saturday – which also turned out a hammering, yet of different sort – so my ability to perceive moving objects, such as footballers, and comprehend signals from surrounding environments was thus significantly undermined on Sunday, but that little I did comprehend was most enjoyable. KuPS’s usually solid defence, that had let only eight goals in twelve matches before today, was in trouble from kick-off till the final whistle and with better finishing JJK should have easily scored a few goals more. KuPS had a couple of decent chances, but only after the game was practically over.

Of JJK’s 27 goals of the season, Babatunde Wusu (12) and Tommi Kari (7) have scored nineteen, and not by accident – it’s an excellent attack duo. Wusu maybe isn’t your most reliable finisher, but he does have a talent of causing certain entropy within the penalty area. And as it happens, when he came from Lagos to Finland, in 2001, he didn’t come to play football but to do a voluntary exchange in Konnevesi, a hamlet between Jyväskylä and Kuopio. So he’s not only a good striker but, like most of his team mates, a man of the region too, and I really hope he’ll stay with JJK for long enough to help them getting promoted to Veikkausliiga.

The man of the match was Janne Järvinen, a midfielder who scored the first two goals. JJK’s playmaker, Matti Lähitie, deserves a special mention as well – also because as a JJK player he’s an example of rare synergy between sports and academia. Pori’s gift to Central Finnish football, he played for VPS last season and arrived in Jyväskylä when he started to study in the local university. The uni of Jyväskylä is the only one in Finland with a Faculty of Sport, and from time to time this factor has brought local clubs some players (and coaches) who probably wouldn’t have joined them otherwise. I’m only guessing, but it’d be interesting to check how many student players JJK, Jyp (ice hockey), BC Jyväskylä (basketball) and Kiri (Finnish baseball) actually have among their ranks.

It was a full house today: 3548 is the new record attendance of the Harju ground. The atmosphere was great, the audience was more active than in any TamU game – which without Sinikaarti would deceitfully remind of church services as regards noise – I’ve seen in Ratina and the away stand’s Banzai boys put good effort too. It’s sunny summer Sundays such as this that allow Finnish football matches sometimes to punch well above its qualitative weight as sport events. It makes a superb holiday pastime.

Myself I’ll expatriate to the UK in the end of August, and feel pity that I won’t have a chance to witness how Ykkönen’s promotion fight will turn out after the summer. It looks damn exciting now. The winner will gain a straight promotion and the runner-up will go to playoffs with the second last of Veikkausliiga. JJK are strong now but are a young team, based mostly on the fruits of their youth teams, and I’ve to admit that I’ll be surprised if they’ll manage to keep the same pace when the autumn comes.

And if the promotion will become reality, then I’ll be equally interested to observe how the organisation and the city administration will anwer to the challenge. The Harju stadium has a lovely location – being built on a hill that dominates the town’s scenery, surrounded by pine trees – but it doesn’t meet Veikkausliiga standards, no matter how compromised those tend to be in practice. To my (admittedly not deep) understanding there exists some long term plan either to improve it or to build a new ground next to the hockey stadium, but that’s indeed a long term plan. The city invested pretty heavily some ten years ago, accumulating well enough debt, and as the Finnish municipalities in general have more important matters to worry about than sponsoring new sport venues, their moment of reflection may last for quite a while. Jyp are playing in what is possibly the most out-of-date ice hall of the hockey league and the prospects of getting a better one in the near future aren’t exactly great either.

Nevertheless, now there’s a football boom in Jyväskylä and I hope JJK will make something good out of it. Central Finland has has never had a team in the highest league and a few years ago, when JJK were still struggling to make it to the upper half of Kakkonen (and being busy amusing the public with various, rather odd intraorganisational soap opera episodes – my favourite was the one between the then head coach and Sükrü Uzuner; Sükrü was complaining that the former tried to smoke him out of the team and didn’t even call back if he had attempted to reach him, on which the coach commented that his cellphone receives many phone calls and is so old that it only lists the ten last ones) it even seemed that if the region is to have a football club in Ykkönen it’d be Huima of Äänekoski. So considering the background, this summer has been a real Big Bang. Let’s see what autumn brings.

As a concluding reminder, I’d like to plug you to this site. A former JJK player, who quit football after lifting the Veikkausliiga trophy last year, is building a second career. You can listen his songs here.

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6 Responses

  1. Finland has a Lake District? A part of Finland with even more lakes than the rest of the country? Surely it’s just completely underwater then?

    Nice one JJK, anyway. I wouldn’t worry too much about the stadium, there are some ramshackle old grounds and it’s easier to build a stand and a VIP tent than it is to set up an ice hockey arena. Viikingit even have stands built on the athletics track.

    And jesus christ, Ville. I thought he was selling insurance or something?

  2. Technically it covers more than a third of our surface, yet in my personal vocabulary refers to a vague square formed by Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta, Joensuu and Kuopio – if only to elaborately exclude a town called Tampere.

    Of Veikkauliiga’s A criteria, Harju lacks at least the floodlights and under-soil heating. Which means that it would have to play the autumn matches away and prove that the pitch stays green without heating (it really seems to) but wouldn’t of course disqualify the club.

  3. I’m glad I got my biology degree before I came out to Finland now. Well done Aapo. It works wonderfully well, but I never thought I would read the word entropy in a football report!! The hours and hours I spent toiling around in a lab now seem somewhat worth it, haha

  4. Actually Ville Lehtinen has been playing recently for 1st division side Atlantis FC (Helsinki) so he hasn’t quit the game entirely.

    Did you know that Jyväskylä TV shows JJK games online. I think that the JJK-KuPS match will be up in a couple of days. http://www.tvjkl.fi/content/fi/5/3/3.html

    Great blog. Would come to Tampere to see TamU play against Levski tomorrow but can’t because of the f*cking military service..

  5. Jon: To be absolutely honest, my personal introduction to the concept of ‘entropy’ happened through a video game, and I actually wasn’t aware of its appliance in biology. See how Finnish football always teaches you something new!

    Elias: I didn’t that know you can watch TV Jkl online, either, so thanks a lot for this. Great to have a site from where to check the goals.

    And speaking of the Veikkausliiga licenses, now it seems that should RoPS win a promotion it may not be given one. The league has granted them already two transition periods and Jan Walden says that a third would be out of the question. The city will do up the ground next year – at the earliest.

    http://www.yle.fi/urheilu/etusivu/id81445.html

  6. Aapo, entropy is more of a chemistry issue then a biology one. But receiving my degree in biology required a lot of chemistry classes as well, and of course you can’t fully understand what happens biologically without a knowledge of chemistry.

    As to the stadium ordeal, I’m not really sure what is going to happen. I think we will definitely be in a promotion spot at the end of the season so it should be interesting to see what happens. No matter what, we will continue to try and win every game we play and then hope that we can appeal to go up.

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