Cursing teams is fun

So, since I started rambling on about how Viikingit are well organised and solid, they’ve conceded nine goals and slumped to the bottom of the table. What the fuck? They played very well at Haka, I don’t know what’s wrong with them. It can only be the curse of FiF, previously deployed against Jonas Emet and now ensuring that the relegation battle is not much of a battle.

I went to Lahti on Monday for Tampere United’s 2-0 win. It was my first visit to that fine city, and I have to say the stadium is really quite spectacular. In terms of facilities it wouldn’t be out of place in the Polish 5th division, but it has some natural advantages that many stadia don’t.

Firstly, it seems to be blasted out of a hill with dynamite, so the stand on the far side is only about one third the height of the steep bank that runs alongside the pitch. Secondly, it has a fucking ski jumping stadium at one end.
This is taken from behind one goal at the football stadium, in snowier times. I kept staring at it and missed quite a lot of the game, but the game was actually pretty dull so never mind. The grand sporting facilities of Lahti required close attention, and a couple of people told me a story about Lahti’s city council which confirm a few stereotypes. Not sure if it’s true, but I’ll repeat it anyway.

The stadium is, as you may have guessed, in the municipal ‘sport facilities district’ of Lahti. Alongside the stadium and the Ski jumping, there is an indoor football arena and the ISKU Areena, the ice hall where Pelicans play. In addition to that there are loads of cross country skiing tracks in the vicinity (they looked quite tough too, lots of steep hills).

They host a lot of international events, and that probably explains the huge number of flagpoles dotted around the place, from the junction where you turn off the main road, behind the goals, all around the car park, even a few up in the forest above the ‘sunnyside stand’. They look a bit sad and bedraggled really, only adding to the ‘Tirana Olympic Stadium’ feel of the place.

Anyway, it is clear what the local council has put their money into. Lahti has the reputation of a hard place, a spit and sawdust no nonsense type of town and the inhabitants are quite proud of that. i guess that’s why they built a ski jumping stadium, because they are hard enough to ascend hundreds of metres and then ski down in a straight line trying to jump as far as they can.

They did have another option though, according to my sources. Back in the 60s, the Finnish government wanted to more effectively harness the white heat of technology and decided the best way to do this would be to build a Technical University. They offered the university to Lahti City Council, who apparently said “no, we are a working man’s city, we have no need of your high-falutin’ educashun”.

And so it went to Tampere. It’s one of the top ranking Finnish universities, and is one of the reasons Nokia retains a large presence in Tampere and only a token Lahti presence. Great decision by the good burghers of Lahti.

TamU’s two goals both came from Tomi Petrescu, who will almost certainly be on his way in October. He’s young (21), he’s in form and he has lots of potential, let’s hope he goes to the right club. He could play a lot of games for the national team if he develops correctly, so this move is pretty important for him. He’s already played at Leicester, but I have a sneaking feeling he would do better in Germany or Italy. At least, football in those countries is closer to what he has played at TamU so far.

Highlights here

The man from HBL wasn’t impressed with HJK’s attendance, btw. He said that they announced 3342 but there weren’t more than 2000 at Töölö. In England that kind of thing gets stamped on quite hard by litigious clubs, but I guess Finland has better protection for freedom of speech.

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2 Responses

  1. Where do you foreigners get all these ghost stories about Lahti? I personally think it’s a great place.

    Haven’t been there since the end of December 2001, and it may have changed in the meanwhile, but one of the most bizarre nights out I’ve ever had took place in Lahti. It was probably Saturday, I was a young sivari rookie and my sivari mate’s band (‘Insight’ from Mäntsälä) were going to have a gig in Lahti.

    So I turned to the largesse of the Finnish Ministry of Labour and used one of their sivari home journey tickets to get from my hometown of Suolahti to my spiritual hometown of Lahti. The temperature was minus 25 and Finland was about to swap to euro in less than a week, the latter fact meaning that nearly everyone at work was making fun of my surname.

    The gig in Torvi Baari was great and I had a good night out, but when I woke up on the coach back to Central Finland in the morning, I realised that I had a fucking ugly silvery ring on my right hand’s index finger. It had something to do with some Mäntsälä girl I had met at the bus station and the Lord of the Rings movie that had come out earlier in that month. Whatever was the reason for its presence, I couldn’t get it out of my finger.

    My finger turned first pink and when we arrived in Jyväskylä, early in the morning, it was already showing different shades of purple, as well as some colours that are only visible under hangover. Every person I rung up told me to try soap, an advice which I followed as soon as I got back to the sivarikämppä, my first own home ever. Soap was no use so I rung up my dad, who simply blunted the question ‘are you drunk?’ – prompting me to hung up without giving him any answer. After two minutes my mother called back, telling me to try soap.

    At this point, the time being probably 11am, I phoned my mate Tomi and explained that there was a big and ugly silvery ring on my right hand’s index finger and I couldn’t get rid of it. Tomi, my regular sober pair of hands, asked no questions and was very soon knocking my door.

    He had come with an iron saw. We sat down in my kitchen, I put my ringed finger at the table and Tomi started to work on it. After about five minutes I was freed from my nuisance. I had the Mäntsälä girl’s number and I was going to ask her where I could send the remainings of the ring to, but as it got lost during the New Year’s Eve I never bothered.

    So, that is what I wanted to tell you about Lahti.

  2. The home stadium of Lahti can not be even called football stadium. But there is one positive thing at least: usually it has had the best lawn in Finland in early spring (under thick snow cover there have been well heated and fertilized lawn – except this year it was not so good). The new stadium is listed to “FC Lahti Strategy 2010”. The stadium should be -planned- by 2010.

    Lahti has the best facilities for international nordic skiing competitions. It has arranged World Cup in Nordic Skiing 82 times now (http://www.lahtiskigames.com/en/Lahti ) and the World Ski Championships six times. And again, it is Nordic World Ski Championship candidate (http://www.lahti2013.com/). No other Finnish town has organized World Ski Championships. If you took a closer look to s ski jumping stadium you probably saw how much they have renovated there. Ski tracks were made broader in last year.

    Hopefully the place and money will be found to FC Lahti stadium in next decade. An old football stadium was in Kisapuisto (close to bus station, Olympic Circles on a gate) but is in poor condition nowadays. The new stadium can not be built there because a view to lake must be open from historical museum.

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