See, I told you that the sky wasn’t falling. Quite the opposite. Three wins on the trot and we’re sitting in a comfortable 3rd.
Since I last wrote, I’ve been up to a lot of fun stuff. I went to London to visit Celia, I scored a goal, visited Helsinki and spent some time with my dad, who came over from America. Before I get into that stuff though, I’ll talk briefly about the last few games.
We’ve taken 10 points from 4 games in September, and have gone up to 2nd in the form table behind only HJK. For some reason that I simply can’t explain, we are simply better than just about everyone else in multiple game weeks. Whenever we play 3 games in 7-8 days we always win the majority of them. That said, we haven’t played particularly well this month, we’ve just gone back to winning ugly. We drew with RoPS to start the month by scoring late after conceding a goal near the end. Even though we only tied that game, I think it gave us confidence in our ability to grind out results again. We used that confidence to hold on against JJK, KuPS and Inter. On paper, those should have been easy wins based on the table, but for my money those are three of the better teams in this league. JJK plays a style that gives us fits, but also leaves themselves open at the back. KuPS is probably the 2nd most talented team in the league behind HJK, but they never seem to put it all together even when they win. Inter is a team that would be really dangerous right now if they still cared, but they don’t and thus we were able to beat them. I said a few months ago that we needed 5 wins from our last 11 games to get third and we now have 4 of them. We need to win at least one more game this year and we have four tough opponents. It won’t be easy, but for something so important I think our club can dig down and get the results we need.
As for off the field events, I’ve been uncharacteristically busy. My month started out with a draw against RoPS, after which I hopped on a plane to London! Unfortunately for me, the amount of time we had free only allowed me to spend 36 hours in the british capital, but it was still worth it to see Celia. I took a few pictures and I’ll put them up sometime, but with this new computer I’m not really sure how to load photos from my phone to the blog since it all has to be done through “the cloud” and I’m not amazing with electronics [edit: done]. We didn’t do much anyway, but I did get to see her new place which was nice. It’s in a totally different part of London from where she used to live to I was able to see parts of the city that I never visited before, including Wimbledon.
The trip back from London was an absolute nightmare. Since I’m not made of money, I had to get the cheapest flight home possible. That meant two Ryanair flights from London to Lithuania to Tampere with the Lithuania stopover being 5 hours (note: flying to Lithuania is something I would not recommend. I’m sure Lithuania is great, but when Lithuanians are confined to a small space like, say, an airplane things get miserable). The fun didn’t stop there though. I arrived in Tampere at around 11pm, conveniently after the last train left for good ol Vaasa. That meant I had two choices: stay in a hostel and take the 6am train to Vaasa to make to practice on time or, take a 1:15am train to Seinajoki, wait two hours and then take a 5:30am bus into Vaasa. Of course I chose the second option and it was a terrible choice. I ended up in the Seinajoki train station with about a half dozen alcoholics aka my new best friends and didn’t get any rest. Needless to say training that day was more of a survival mission than anything else.
|My train station "friends".|
A week later, things looked up again as my dad came to Vaasa. I don’t mention my dad on this blog very often, but he’s an integral part of my life. There’s rarely a time where I make an important decision without consulting him. He also is a sort of sounding board for me about things in my career. I don’t have so many complaints here in Vaasa, but the ones I do have go to him rather than to my teammates because that risks causing problems in the team. Every player has their grievances, and every player needs someone they can talk to who is not in any way subjective. Most of the time when I’m upset about something, I just need my dad to tell me I’m right, then I let it go. It sounds vain, but that’s what a person needs sometimes.
Anyway, my dad was in town and came to our home game against KuPS. I was really happy he got to see me play and even score a goal (he didn’t mention the heel-click celebration so I’m going to assume he loved it). My dad is easily my biggest fan, but he’s only seen me play about 10 professional matches. It was great that he got to see us beat KuPS and also went to Turku to see us beat Inter. I was especially happy that he got to see Veritas Stadion as it’s one of the nicest stadiums in the league in one of the nicest cities in Finland. I was also happy that I started both of those games (and all three of our wins this month, I might add :) ) so that my pops could see me play as much as possible while he was here.
My dad and I also visited Helsinki for a day and took the ferry over to Stockholm and spent a few days there, but in the interest of time I won’t go into details about that. Maybe I can put some photos up from Sverige, but don’t hold your breath [edit: they're up].
Our next game is against champions-elect HJK. Luckily for us, they haven’t yet clinched the title so we won’t have to clap them out in the pregame walkout. It’s a great tradition that teams do that for the champions if they’ve won the league before the last game(s), but I would hate to do it for HJK or any other team. I have huge respect for HJK, I would just be a little pissed off having to do that. For the game itself, I actually think we have a decent shot at winning. HJK will know now that they’ve won the league, and everyone knows that they are not quite as dominant away as they are in Helsinki. We’ve beaten them before and our loss to them came on the back of two incredible shots which would be difficult to repeat. We know that HJK is better than us, but that doesn’t mean anything if we’re better on the day. It won’t be easy, but then again when was the last time we had an easy game? We’ve only won 5 games by more than one goal, and of those five games, three times the “cushion” goal came in the last five minutes and four times in the last ten minutes. The point is that we don’t play easy games ever, so knowing we have a hard game is nothing new.
That’s all folks. I hope to see a big turnout this Monday as we look to secure third spot. With the right results this weekend we could all but secure third spot. It’s very unlikely, but that’s what people would have told you about us being third this time of year, so why not? In a season of improbable results, why shouldn’t we all but clinch a Europa League spot and bronze medal with a win over the best team in the league?