It’s like going to the dentist

EDIT-More pics from Denis Kennedy:

My girlfriend’s Dad is something of a local celebrity in his home town. When he was a young lad, you see, he was a very good distance runner, and great things were expected of him. Once, he even beat Finnish Olympic Champion Lasse Virén. In a small town this gives him some kudos, but lots of people wonder why he didn’t kick on and become a great athlete, rather than the decent orienteerer he is now. He’s only spoken about it once to his daughter, as Finns are not the most communicative people. Apparently he lacked the killer instinct – when you’re beating someone you have to want to grind their metaphorical faces into the dirt, whereas he always felt sorry for the others when he won.

Tampere United are beginning to develop the knack of grinding those metaphorical faces. VPS did the double over them last season, and I don’t think TamU have had many happy games against Vaasa. Vepsu (as their acronym becomes when Finns use it enough) are a big, physical, aggressive team, and TamU hate that kind of team. Especially when they can counter-attack pretty well, as VPS undoubtedly do. All in all, it was the game TamU wanted least sandwiched between the two legs of a massive Champions League tie.

So it was no surprise when VPS went 1-0 up after 9 minutes. A misplaced pass gave the ball to Taipale, who crossed for Uotinen to score. Hjelm was quick to rectify the misspassing defender, and poor Henri Myynti was brought off for Ojanpera in the first indication that TamU were’t going to settle for another debacle like last season’s 3-2 defeat.

The VPS fans were in fine voice at this point, with a large contingent in the main stand and the Geezers Hietalahti in the corner diagonally opposite Sinikaarti. A good name and some decent chanting, mainly variations on ‘heja vepsu’ to different tunes, but it’s easy to remember the words then isn’t it? They were moved to the normal away fans section when they tried to get a pint at half time, as alcohol and singing fans are such a dangerous combination.

I would have put money on VP winning the game had it stayed like that. They looked pretty comfortable and they know they can beat TamU. But then Agolli did something really, really stupid. Järvinen was chasing a lost cause in the VPS penalty area, and as he realised it had gone he gave Agolli a little push and the defender took a tumble. He then chased after Järvinen and shoved him in the back. Järvinen went down, the referee gave Agolli his second yellow card and VPS coach Janne Lindberg wouldn’t let Agolli leave the pitch till he’d apparently apologised/explained himself/felt sufficiently guilty. He had hold of his arm for a good 10 seconds, when all Agolli wanted was to go into the changing room and hide from his own stupidity.

This galvanised TamU a bit, and maybe prompted Hjelm to bring on the big guns at half time – Pohja and Niemi came on, having been ‘resting’ in the first half. This brought a well worked equaliser for Sakari Saarinen and a spell of pressure for TamU, before VPS got another goal they thought was the winner. Ylinen’s strike was right in the top corner, and I thought they deserved the win after working so hard. Unfortunately Jari Niemi rather rudely spoiled their party by hooking in a miscued clearance 2 minutes later.

At the end both teams were knackered, about half of them sitting down for the interminable presentations that follow every Finnish game in the top two divisions. An unsatisfactory result too, but at least TamU have got over their hoodoo and are now unbeaten against VPS this season. They’re slowly getting closer to face-grinding supremacy.


MIFK moved out of the bottom three with a storming 3-2 victory at home to KTP, and it looks like it’s any two from four for the relegation spots. I have no particular axe to grind with any of them, but I do think Inter play the most attractive football and I hope they survive. Oulu, Viikingit and MIFK will have to fight it out between them.

I got an email from Kari Mänty on Friday, and there’s a big night of sport planned on YLE2this Tuesday. World class international competition, brought to you live from…. Stockholm. For those who want to watch football not athletics, Mänty said that Urheilukanava were still in negotiations. As it’s now Sunday and they haven’t announced anything, I’m guessing people will just have to make do with what they can.


2 Responses

  1. Not that it would be something that your taciturn quasi father-in-law would discuss, but I wonder if Viren was doping at that level, or if he only started later in his career.

    How is he remembered in Finland? I took an immediate dislike to him when he celebrated his first Olympic gold by ostentatiously waving his sponsored running shoes at the camera.

  2. How is he remembered in Finland?

    Without hard feelings. Lasse Viren followed a walk of life not totally untypical for Finnish athlete heroes, and became a politician. He served two terms as a member of Eduskunta, and ran unsuccessfully for the third one in March.

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