First Team Star
Oct 1, 2019, 11:01 PM
Team(s): Colchester United, Stocksbridge Park Steels, Borussia Dortmund & Essex CC
Post #1 of 1
Finland & Estonia Euro 2020 Qualifiers Break
Another Wednesday silly o’clock Ryanair flight from Stansted got me to Tallinn airport late morning. A short ride on the #4 tram (€1) and I was in the city centre and checking into the Kreutzwald Hotel. I had not been able to buy my Estonia match ticket online as you need an Estonian bank account, so although the game was never going to be a sell out, I headed to the ticket outlet in the Solaris shopping mall in on Estonia puiestee and was soon sorted. Next stop was the Port of Tallinn Terminal D to buy my Tallink return ferry tickets to Helsinki. Having booked on the next day’s 10:30 ferry and back on Friday’s 13:30 ferry my admin was completed and the rest of my day was free to explore Tallinn’s walled & cobblestoned Old Town and visit some of it’s excellent bars. A leisurely few hours were spent in the late summer sunshine with refreshments taken at the Beer House brewpub at Dunkri 5 and Porgu cellar bar at Ruutli 4. Thursday morning I returned to Terminal to catch the Star Ferry for my two hour crossing to Helsinki West Terminal 2. From the terminal the #7 tram (€2.80) took me to the Helsinki Paarautieasema station where I caught the train to Tampere. I was staying the night at the Hotel Citi Inn, nothing special but handily located near the station and only 20 minutes walk from the stadium.
Thursday 5th September 21:45
Euro 2020 Group J Qualifier
Ratinan Stadium, Tampere
Finland 1(0) Greece 0(0)
FIFA Rankings 57th v 54th
White Shirts & Shorts Blue Shirts & Shorts
Admission €43 Programme Free
The Ratinan Stadium sits on the bank of the Tammerkoski. The Tammerkoski is a channel of rapids in Tampere. The city is located between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. The difference in altitude between these two is 18 metres (59 ft) and the water flows from Näsijärvi to Pyhäjärvi through the Tammerkoski rapids.
I had purchased a ticket ahead of my trip as the most recent Finland home game in Tampere (v Bosnia 16,103) had been a near sell out. A helpful contact at the Finnish FA had emailed me a print at home ticket and details of the account to do a bank transfer to for payment. I arrived at the stadium early before the gates opened and managed to persuade one of the media guys to get me some programmes, a double issue for the Greece & Italy games. I needn’t have worried as there were plenty available inside the stadium and most of the locals weren’t interested in any.
It had been raining earlier in the afternoon when my train arrived but fortunately it had stopped by the evening as my seat was in the uncovered stand opposite the main stand. With Finland having a realistic chance of qualifying from Group J the stadium was again close to selling out. The match was a close contest with the Greeks physical approach keeping the hosts quiet before the break. The deciding moment occurred in the 52nd minute when Glen Kamara, who plays for Rangers, was clumsily brought down just inside the box and up stepped that man Pukki to convert from the spot. That was the only goal and the Finns celebrated wildly at the final whistle.
Next morning I caught a morning train back to the capital and the early afternoon ferry back to Tallinn. Having checked back into the Kreutzwald Hotel I had plenty of time ahead of the evening’s international.
Friday 6th September 19:00
Euro 2020 Group C Qualifier
A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn
Estonia 1(0) Belarus 2(0)
FIFA Ranking 100th v 84th
Blue Shirts / Black Shorts Red Shirts & Shorts
Admission €15 Programme €2
Sausage & Chips €6 Beer €4
The A. Le Coq Arena was only a fifteen minute walk from my hotel and I arrived early as usual. Outside the Arena the fan park was keeping the fans fed, watered and entertained. Souvenir stalls were doing a brisk trade and surprisingly programmes were also on sale. The smart little stadium has a capacity of just over 14,000. It’s covered on all four sides and the steep rake ensures all the spectators are close to the pitch with excellent views.
Both teams went into this game pointless in a group that was always going to be tough including giants Germany and Netherlands. The first half was goalless but Belarus took the lead three minutes into the second half, unmarked Nikita Naumov heading an Ihar Stasevich’s right side corner. Just six minutes later Estonia were level when Erik Sorga turned in Matthias Kait’s low cross/shot at the back post. Belarus had plenty more chances hitting the woodwork no fewer than four times in the second half but it looked like the hosts would hang on for a point. Then in the 92nd minute their luck ran out and Maksim Skavysh nipped in at the front post to score the winner from Siarhei Matveichik’s pass.
With one full day left in Tallinn I was determined to squeeze in as much as I could. An early breakfast allowed me to do a self guided tour of the Old Town sights using my Lonely Planet guidebookin the morning. Then it was off to my first game of the day.
Saturday 7th September 13:00
Kandrioru Staadion, Tallinn
Tallinna JK Legion 5(4) FC Elva 3(2)
1st v 4th
Red Shirts / Black Shorts White Shirts / Green Shorts
Admission & Programmes (4 pages) Free
The Kadrioru Stadium is just over 2kms and about a half an hour walk east of the Old Town. The stadium was the home ground for Estonia before the A. Le Coq Arena was built in 2001. Today the multi-purpose stadium with a running track has a capacity of 5,000. The main stand is mostly covered while the smaller seated stand down the opposite touchline is uncovered. A large electronic scoreboard on the uncovered side helpfully listed the teams and was updated with the scorers of the goals. A real bonus was a box of programmes which most in attendance completely ignored.
The game proved to be a real goal fest. The visitors Elva raced into an early two goal lead. Veiko Maidla in space on the right of the box gave them the lead in the 4th minute. Three minutes later Jurgen Kuresoo beat the keeper to the ball on the right of the box to double their lead. In the 20th minute table topping Legion pulled a goal back when Rijal Alijev turned in a low cross from the right at the back post. Three minutes later the hosts were level when Marek Satov’s close range effort found the roof of the net. Another three minutes later Denis Vnukov converted a penalty to put Legion ahead. In the 39th minute Stefan Tsendei’s back post header made it four-two. Things quietened down after the break and the next goal did not come until the 66th minute. It came from a Legions’ Stanislav Goldberg right footed shot inside the box. The scoring was rounded off in stoppage time when a Martin Thomson pen pulled a goal back for Elva to make the final score five-three.
I had about an hour to get to my second game of the afternoon on the west side of the Old Town. A 45 minute, 3 km walk got me to the Wismari Staadion.
Saturday 7th September 16:00
Wismari Staadion, Tallinn
Tallinna JK Legion II 1(0) Maardu II 4(3)
Red Shirts & Shorts Blue Shirts / Black Shorts
Attendance 26 (H/C)
Admission Free No Programmes
It’s a bit much to call this a stadium. The pitch is a very worn 3G one. The only cover was a small overhang from the changing rooms with benches underneath. Two rows of broken seats was the only ‘stand’. The best thing I could say about it was that it was only ten minutes walk from my hotel.
The game between two II teams was not great with Maardu running out comfortable winners. They took the lead in the 5th minute with a shot from outside to box into the top corner. A 40th minute free kick up and over the wall doubled the lead. A back post tap in on 43 minutes made it three-nil. Sixteen minutes after the break and a shot inside the box put the visitors four up. A curling strike from outside the box in the 64th minute was just a consolation for Legion II.
My day was not complete as there was still time to visit the Tanavafestival in the Uue Maailma district of Tallinn near my hotel. The festival had lots of great food and drink stalls to visit and live entertainment on a number of stages. Finally it was back into the Old Town to visit two more excellent bars. The first, Koht is tucked away under an arch just off Lai and specialises in bottled beers. The recommended bottle of Purtse Experimentaal XVII packed a punch at 11.5%! I then called in at Hell Hunt on Pikk where I enjoyed one of their house beers while watching one of the late kick-off Euro Qualifiers on the big screen. It was an excellent way to round off what had been a very enjoyable trip.
(This post was edited by sheffgeoff on Oct 1, 2019, 11:06 PM)