Jussi Jääskeläinen

I spent a not insignificant portion of my Christmas break working on this story. I will think very carefully before I next criticise players for making banal comments, as sometimes they just get asked shit questions. This was one of those occasions, unfortunately, I think I rather fluffed my first interview with a professional footballer outside of the post and pre-game press conferences. Jääskeläinen was great though, he didn’t get pissed off with my inanities. Full details to people who buy me beer.

Lauri Dalla Valle, again

There have been a few HS stories about Dalla Valle recently, and they have now been translated for the International Edition. What catches my eye is the way his background is portrayed here, as his Dad is Italian and this has had some effect on his upbringing. He hasn’t declared which national side he wants to play for, but I’d be surprised if he went for Italy. His Dad might think otherwise, but if he’s good enough I’d expect Dalla Valle to choose the country he’s grown up in, like Ashkan Dejagah.

He didn’t settle too well when he spent some time training with Inter two years ago, anyway:

At the age of 14, Lauri went with his dad to Milan.
“The idea then was that I would stay in Italy”, Lauri recalls.
However, in a lucky break for Finnish football, Lauri did not adapt very well to the local school, where things were a good deal wilder than back home.
“And the language, too, was more complicated than I was used to.”
Three months in Milan proved enough.
“I probably went there a bit too early for my own good. Now it feels like it was a useful experience and I have a good feeling about going to Liverpool.”

In the paper version, there is a large photo of Dalla Valle doing keep-ups in the Karelian snowscapes.

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Finland 2 Belgium 0

Eagle owl attending soccer game pt. 2

This picture was taken by smela, and arrived here via the Finnish football pool on flickr

Alright, it was a long time ago, but I’m playing with the photo feature here and this is a great picture. Roman Eremenko was immense in this match, by all accounts (I was in Tallinn covering the Estonia-England game), and this incident seemed to relax him and the rest of the team.

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Tampere’s stadium

Stadion of Tampere

This picture was taken by nordstube2000, and arrived here via the Finnish football pool on flickr
Ratina is the biggest stadium in Veikkausliiga, holding 16,500 people when it’s packed to the rafters. Unfortunately, there are no rafters in most of the stadium as it is completely open to the elements, which isn’t ideal for those big games in autumn and spring. Tampere United need a new stadium and are doing their damndest to get one, but it’s a big task. There isn’t much space in Tampere and the council has a laudable sport for all ethos that doesn’t often make special allowances for professional sport. Or at least this professional sport – there is an application for a new ice hockey arena in a city centre park that will be difficult to turn down.

Sinikaarti at Honka

Tampere United supporters

This picture was taken by Heavenbound, and arrived here via the Finnish football pool on flickr

HJK fans visit Espoo

HJK supporters

This picture was taken by Heavenbound, and arrived here via the Finnish football pool on flickr

KTP end of season 2005

n kauden päätös 2005

This picture was taken by erno, and arrived here via the Finnish football pool on flickr

I like KTP. They’re a small but friendly club, and they always take a good away following wherever they play. One of the themes I keep returning to is the atmosphere at football games here, as it is often quite strange: families, youth squads and VIPs seem to outnumber normal fans in a lot of places.Kotka is not one of those places. It is a port city, without a top flight hockey team. In the winter people watch or play basketball and in the summer they concentrate on the football. Their home crowds are vocal and sizeable, without the freebies and corporates that tend to pad things out at other Finnish clubs.

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New blog

I’m playing around with things at the moment, trying to find a more professional look and a more effective way of communicating information. All feedback is welcome, so please tell me what you want to see. The tags at the top will soon be filled with articles and information, so please let me know what you want to read as part of a kind of ‘FAQ/stats and info’ section. One more thing you could do, if you feel that way inclined, is to join the group I set up on flickr to hopefully add a bit more visual stimulation to the site. It was a bit black over at blogger. The flickr group is here.

I’m also on the lookout for new contributors, so if you fancy writing here just let me know. I know I have neglected the hockey blog, but hopefully I’m going to put that on the same footing and hand it over to someone else to take a more active role there. I don’t think I can do justice to both, but I will of course continue contributing to the hockey blog after the changes.

So have a look round, let me know what you want to see, what you don’t want to see, how we should change things around. If there are any wordpress features I haven’t yet discovered that would make this place better, tell me about them. I’m still playing around with it just now.

Teemu Tainio, pride of Lapland?

I am reliably informed, by people who should know, that ‘proper’ Lapland doesn’t start until you get north of the Ivalojoki river. I’ve had a look on the map, and asked at the train station, but no-one can sell me a ticket there. I’ll probably have to settle for tourist Lapland down in Kitilä or Rovaniemi or Kolari, if I ever decide to visit the quintessential Finnish landscapes (copyright of the Finnish tourist board). This melting snow is really depressing the hell out of me right now, so I may be tempted sooner rather than later.

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