EDIT-Petrescus goal can be seen on this site: http://www.mtv3.fi/
There you go to netti-tv and select urheilu and 31.7.2007 Tulosruutu… “Tamun Jarkko Wiss seurasi ottelua katsomosta”.
I don’t think I’ve been this happy after a match since Wednesday won the League One playoff final in Cardiff in 2005. That was quite a day, but due to the convoluted route I was taking to and from the game, I had to celebrate in Aberystwyth with only one other Wednesdayite, and we got kicked out of Inn on the Pier for singing ‘Hark Now Hear the Wednesday Sing’. Inn on the Pier was at that point of the evening the only licensed establishment open in Aberystwyth, and as a consequence we spent a long night on the beach drinking small bottles of Stella Artois and occasionally throwing pebbles into the water. It wasn’t the ideal way to commemorate Wednesday’s first promotion in 14 years.
Last night was different. Your entire FiF task force (me Jussi and Aapo, along with my brother who is in Tampere at the minute) prepared for the game professionally and saw the fruits of their diligence. We started in Semafori, my spiritual home in Tampere. Those of you who know little of Finland except that it is cold and alcohol is expensive will understand my affection for this quite dingy pub when I say that beer there costs €1.90 a pint. It tastes like shit and you are surrounded by scumbags, but a couple of pints, a couple of fisus and you’re good to go, ready for an evening in Tampere.
After Semafori we made our way slowly to the ground via O’Connels and a small session of puistokaljaa when we ‘enjoyed the summer’, as Finns like to say. It was absolutely pissing it down with rain, which makes my football watching experiences much more memorable for some reason. Getting piss-wet through is always intensifies the match, even at the atmosphere-desert that is Ratina.
Younger Brother said ‘it feels like a proper game!’ which is quite something, for Finland. In the pub beforehand there were lots of scarves and colours, and the anticipation was slowly building. That’s the way it should be, really, and the only thing missing from a proper football experience was a chip butty and Barnsley Bitter being sold for £1.60 (Sheffield residents do not have to shatter my illusions about current prices. Remember: absence makes the heart grow foner).
To perpetuate this football/wider experience/it’s just like England! feeling I was experiencing, Jussi ordered a pint of Dark Star in O’Connels. As the barmaid squeezed the last dregs of the barrel out with renewed vigour, me and pikku veli looked at each other and pulled stern faces, as this was obviously going to be one disgusting, old pint. Real Ale, when older than a week or so, gives you the shits. It’s not nice to drink.
After some deliberation, we pointed this out to Jussi. He agreed, it wasn’t too good, but had assumed that was just the way we island monkeys drank our beer. Egged on by the Englanders and a shot of fisu, he took it back to the bar.
Now, foreigners won’t understand what is so momentous about this. In many places, getting bad service or a bad product triggers a complaint and compensation, but not in Finnish pubs. The only usually acceptable complaint is for a short measuer, so when Jussi came back from the bar with a fresh pint and a cheesy grin, I knew it was going to be a good day.
The game was surprisingly even. Levski had a huge amount of possession, and TamU badly missed Jarkko Wiss, but there were good chances for TamU and little real threat from the Bulgarians. Jari Niemi could have scored before Petrescu with a little more luck, and Daniel broke clear at the end – he could do with a bit more match fitness, as I said before. Man of the Match was Juska Savolainen, and well done to Saarinen for lasting the pace when he’s obviously not quite the same player Wiss can be.
After the game we celebrated, which is why I haven’t posted before now. Sorry about that. We finished the evening in Doris, where Sinikaarti were well represented and I drank tar for the first time in my life. It’s surprisingly good, and may well replace Fisu as my Finnish shot of choice.
Today was taken up with a hangover sauna and media duties. Prime among these was an inquiry directed at Kari Mänty, head of YLE’s sport division, as to what plans they have to televise the away leg next week. He promised to call back, and I will inform you all when he tells me what YLE will broadcast about one of the biggest Finnish club games in at least 5 years. I have a feeling it won’t be very much, and that is a crying shame. No Finnish TV coverage of the most important club match in Finnish football for ages? Welcome to Finland….