Thursday, November 14, 2019

Huuhkajat on the verge of history

Twenty-one World Cups. Fifteen European Championships. One hundred and twelve years of Finnish football.

Finland have never qualified for either of the two major tournaments they are eligible for. A few Olympic Games appearances (including a fourth place in 1912) have popped up, but that is thirty-six tournaments that Finland have not graced.

On Friday November 15th 2019, Finland will almost certainly qualify for Euro 2020.

Teemu Pukki scoring against Armenia in October 2019

Victory against Liechtenstein in Helsinki will see the Finns reach the finals. The visitors are ranked 181st in the current FIFA rankings (the Finns are 55th), while the records in Group J show that they've two points from eight matches. Even if Finland don't win, it would take an unlikely set of events to prevent qualification - a draw would suffice if Bosnia fail to win in Italy. Even if Finland lose, a Bosnia defeat and Armenia failing to defeat Greece would do. And... There is still an away game in Greece on Tuesday if required.

Interest in Finland's expected triumph has attracted media from all over the world. The BBC World Service's excellent World Football programme has broadcast from the camp, featuring interviews with SPL sporting director Hannu Tihinen and defenders Leo and Sauli Väisänen; while the Guardian featured an interview with captain Tim Sparv as part of their coverage. Even the Daily Mail featured a complimentary article about a group of foreigners.

I wrote in a separate post on the Finnish Football Show website about how Norwich City have jumped on the bandwagon, hanging onto the coattails of their striker Teemu Pukki by opening a pop-up shop in Helsinki and hosting a club night after the match.

There have been elements of caution - mostly from the players themselves. Finland have come close before, in 1997 and 2007. Yet even the footballers are still people. Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky talks about enjoying a beer after the game, while Pukki promised to media that Finland would win the match.

The enthusiasm from Finland supporters has been infectious and a treat to observe. Tickets for the match are being offered on auction sites for over a thousand Euros each, competitions to win tickets are pounced upon. It's impossible to predict how many fans will travel to the finals, especially as we won't have an idea of the venues for a couple of weeks at least. Who knows, plenty would even go to Baku if required.

A lot has been made of the supposed golden generation of Litmanen, Hyypiä and Forssell. Hopefully the next generation will seek to emulate the glories of Pukki, Sparv and Hradecky.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Football kits for sale!

Hello all. Several of you know that I'm a bit of a football shirt nerd. I've got two rather large boxes containing some of the jerseys I've picked up on my travels.

To that end, I've started the clearout. Some of these still have tags on, some have only been worn once or twice. More are likely to follow... Got a few Finland and Finnish club shirts with I’m trying to decide what to do with.

If you buy two or more shirts, you can have a 10% discount for both. If you do make an offer, I'll show it as reserved on here. Once payment is received, I'll remove it. Let me know by emailing escapetosuomi AT gmail DOT com. I can email more detail photographs on request. Payment by Paypal or bank transfer. £4 postage UK, £6 EU for one item. If you’re in Central or SW London, we can sort in person

Adidas Originals Boca Juniors tracksuit top - £70

Brand new with tags, bought autumn 2021

Ireland “1990s” retro 1/2 zip retro top - Umbro £70

1990s retro range by Umbro/FAI, brand new with tags

Villarreal 2010/11 - Puma £35

Medium. Brand new with tags.


France - Adidas Originals £25

Medium. Worn a couple of times. No bobbles.


Italy 2012 - Puma £25

Large. Worn once. No damage.


Croatia player issue away 2010/12 - Nike £40

Large (slim fitting). Worn once, no damage. Bought from Classic Football Shirts. Ventilation holes on sides.


Colombia 2014 - Adidas £90

Medium. Brand new with tags.

Universitario (Peru) 2013 - Umbro £20

Medium. Worn a few times. Good condition.


Celtic training shirt 2012/13 - Nike £25

Medium. Brand new with tags.


Belgium away 2016 - Adidas £45

Large. Worn once, excellent condition.


Fiorentina 2015 - Le Coq Sportif £40

Medium. Worn twice. Very good conditon.

AS Saint-Etienne retro - Le Coq Sportif £90

Medium. Brand new with tags. Reproduction from 2015 based on 1970s design. Bought from Le Coq Sportif.


Anderlecht 2014/15 - Adidas £45

Medium. Brand new with tags.

O'Higgins home 2014/15 - Diadora £40

Medium. Unworn. With champions 2013 embroidery.


England away 1994/95 - Umbro £40

Extra large. Some bobbles throughout, fading to collar. Small tear (1cm) on left shoulder.