European draws

So, all the Finnish teams in the UEFA CUP progressed with varying degrees of difficulty. Rhyl looked to be giving Haka a tough time of it, but eventually paid the price for an overly defensive outlook. When Haka scored two great goals in two minutes, it completely knocked the stuffing out of Rhyl. Their players were completely devastated at the end, and rightly so – the first half had been reasonably comfortable for them depsite the one sided possession stats.

After the break Popovich came into his own and Rhyl tired, and in the end Haka looked comfortable when they had been a bit rattled by the part timers, both in the first leg in Wales and in the first half in Valkeakoski.

Denis Kennedy came with us to the match, and took some good pictures. Here they are:
Rhyl fans outside the pub before the game. There were a lot of them, including a Danny Dyer lookalike and a few singing despicable songs with very rude words. The Rhyl official sitting at the front of the away end was able to censure the fans when they sang ‘fuck off haka’, but was unfortunately powerless to prevent the much more objectionable ‘Sheffield United’ chants that sporadically burst forth. Seriously though, they were a great bunch and a credit to their club.

Marketing is a serious business in Valkeakoski.

The crowd was a little disappointing, under 2,000 for a game where Haka needed all the support they could get. there are several possible reasons for this, but I reckon the most convincing is UEFA’s alcohol ban. The Factory Ground has two very nice bars from which it’s normally possible to watch the game, pint in hand. They’re cleverly positioned to circumvent the alcohol laws that make the combination of visible grass and beer such an illicit pleasure.

The view from the away end.

Valery and James wave their handbags at each other, and get booked for their troubles.

Haka’s biggest supporter belches out the stench.

So, in the next round the Finnish clubs now know their fate:

HJK vs AaB
Haka vs Midjytlland
MyPa vs Blackburn Rovers

If Tampere United get through against Levski, they will play Rosenborg or Astana, the Kazakh champions. That could have been trickier, for sure.

For the Blackburn fans who’ve been snooping around, I’d say that they’ll find it difficult to steal the Finnish fans’ songs so I’m not sure why they want to come. Blackburn fans are spectacularly unimaginative when it comes to chanting, probably because most of them didn’t know what football was before Jack Walker came along.

Anyway, it’ll be a good game for MyPa and the decent Blackburn fans should know that Anjalankoski is in Eastern Finland, and they’re probably best off flying to Tampere or Helsinki and hiring a car to get to the game.


One Response

  1. fantastic pictures, i must say 🙂

    i enjoyed going to the game with you and bevan. here’s to a tampere victory tomorrow!

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