They now sell beer at Tammela!

Ilves v KaaPo main stand

Yes folks, it’s true: there is a pay bar at Tammela Stadium now, for Ilves matches at least. I was so happy I bought a season ticket, but the woman refused to give a discount for the two games I’d missed. She surely knew the attraction of beer and football at Finland’s best ground.

Kakkonen has some really great, traditional clubs this year, and Ilves are right up there with the HIFK’s and KTP’s. They are one of the biggest junior clubs in Finland, with affiliate organisations all over the Tampere area and a top flight women’s side who play at Ratina. Their 5-0 win over KaaPa yesterday was an impressive performance both on the pitch, where Mikko Mäkelä and Aapo Lappalainen terrorised the Kaarina side’s defence.

The most impressive stuff was all off the pitch, however. It was a big crowd, with significant numbers of people in two stands – a rarity for any match at Tammela, never mind one at this level. Then there was the huge number of kids running around the place, excited to be playing for the same club that now has a pro side in the third tier of Finnish football. There was even something I have never seen before at a Finnish ground (although I’m sure it must happen, I’ve just missed it): autograph hunting. Here is Ilves’s Estonian winger Henri Erti obliging the kids during the first half:

Henri Erti signs autographs

Apologies for the sporadic and somewhat functional updates recently, I’ve been quite busy and the matches during May have come thick and fast. I will try and do a few posts I have been saving for a while in the next few weeks, including a competition to win a match-worn Sepsi shirt from the great Stanle Festus, something on the Nigerians who are powering Kajha up the Kolmonen table, and hopefully, if I can find it, a post about Roveniemen Markinoilla and Santtu the Rovaniemi Iskelmä commentator. Count the days, people, because next week I will be in a former leper colony and mental hospital off the Turku coast. If I can escape and get to Veritas on Monday, I will post about the Belarus game.

Veikkausliiga Round Eight

Lahti 1 Jaro 2

HJK 1 MyPa 1

TPS 0 IFK Mariehamn 0

KTP 0 Honka 0

KuPS 1 Inter 1

Click scores for highlights

I’ll talk about Haka and TamU later on, but a fairly uninspiring last round of fixtures before the Euro-break so far.

Veikkausliiga Round Eight preview

FC Lahti v FF Jaro

Lahti are missing Vanninen, while Jaro will be without Kullström, Je. Portin, Junnila, Koivisto, Svanbäck and Wargh. With Jaro in awful form following two 4-0 defeats, it should be a home win. But then this is Lahti…

TPS v IFK Mariehamn

TPS are without Valakari, Heinikangas, Ääritalo, Cleaver and Sarajärvi, and IFK will leave Norrmén, Sjölund, Rikama, Isaksson and Blomberg in Mariehamn. TPS are formidable at home and will be looking to put their campaign back on track.

HJK v MyPa

No players out bar the long-term injuries, but both teams will want to win to get back among the chasing pack behind Inter. It could well be a draw.

KTP v Honka

Honka don’t travel well, and even though KTP are without Ikävalko and Vartiainen I expect them to get something out of this game. They have to get a point sometime, don’t they? Honka travel without Koskinen, Patronen and possibly Weckström.

KuPS v Inter

Kinnaslampi, Hartikainen are out for kuPS, while Inter travel to Kuopio with a 17 man squad excluding Furuholm, who is out for the season, and Gustafsson, who played for Inter’s farm team Sinimustat yesterday.

Haka v RoPS

No injury news as yet, but it should be a home win after haka’s emphatic victory in Pietersaari. popvitch can still do the business, especially when his team mates also turn up to play.

VPS v TamU

Again, no team news, but TamU have never won in Vaasa. I’d be surprised if they did so tomorrow.

HK05: Hi-NRG tifo

Veikkausliiga round seven

Honka 1 HJK 0

MyPa 2 Lahti 0

TamU 4 KTP 2

Jaro 0 Haka 4

RoPS 1 TPS 0

IFK M 1 KuPS 1

Inter 2 VPS 0

Click score for highlights.

TamU played Daniel, and they won. Of course they did. Awful defending from KTP, and from TamU, with Obinna Okafor causing a lot of problems for Kuoppala and Lindström. They got away with a lot of fouls on him. KTP’s keeper and captain Janne Henriksson’s body language was a joy to behold. He got fantastically exasperated with his defenders, and at one point he bellowed very loudly at Olaf Hviden-Watson for wasting a good situation with an ill-thought out set piece. ‘OLAF! OLAF! Take a normal free kick next time! Fucking hell!’

Elsewhere Inter look to be running away with things, as Lahti and HJK drop points. RoPS keep up their tremendous home record by beating TPS, who have a lot of ground to make up now. It’s looking like Inter’s title to lose now.

Baxter on Veikkausliiga

Stuart Baxter’s been at a lot of games recently. He was at Haka-Tamu, with Arto Nyberg and Timo Walden, and he’s been to pretty much every TV game including the HJK-TamU match. Ari Virtanen interviewed him for Nelonen news about his thoughts on Veikkausliiga and Finnish football more generally, and you can watch his report here.

Veikkausliiga Round Seven preview

TamU v KTP

Sheweleff is the only absentee for TamU, Ikavalko for KTP in this relegation six-pointer. IF this isn’t a home win I’ll be surprised, but not so surprised that the odds on ladbrokes make sense. TamU are awful right now, and so are KTP. Anything could happen, and KTP are under significantly less pressure.

Honka v HJK

Koskinen and Haarala are out for Honka, Taulo for HJK. It’s a local derby, but HJK looked quite impressive the other day. It’s on UTV at 7pm.

Mariehamn v KuPS

IFK are missing Norrmén, Sjölund, Rikama, Isaksson, Ochieng, Binnion, Carlsson D, and Carlsson J. KuPS are without Kinnaslampi. KuPS have slightly better form and have done okay away from home.

Inter v VPS

Furuholm is out for Inter, VPS are at full strength. Funny feeling about this one, it’ll be an interesting test for Tim Sparv. I wish I could go and see it actually.

RoPS v TPS

TPS still have their midfielders out: Cleaver, Valakari, Sarajärvi, Heinikangas and Ääritalo. RoPS will be without Bauer. I expect RoPS to win.

Jaro v Haka

Kalle Parviainen is seeing a doctor today about the injury he picked up against MyPa, so haka’s defence will be weak. Jaro are without Jens Portin and Junnila, but they played okay against TPS despite losing 4-0. With Haka’s confidence very low, they could crumble once again if the first goal goes against them. With Popovitch anything is possible, and so long as Minninen is there to help provide an attacking focus Haka have a chance.

MyPa v Lahti

Äijälä and Agboh are out for MyPa. Vanninen and Shala will be missing from the Lahti squad. This is a big local derby, with Rafael returning to his former club, and should be a good atmosphere.