Finnish football grounds

As this is a positive article, I’ll start with the best football stadium in Finland. Tammela is a district close to Tampere city centre, populated by a mix of families, students and pensioners, and it contains some of the oldest residential property in the city. In the civil war of 1918 it was devastated in Mannerheim’s assault on Tampere, and there is now a strange mix of beautiful old tenement buildings and much newer apartment blocks.

Tammela’s football ground was one of the first dedicated football facilities in Finland. The fence around the pitch was built by unemployed labourers in the 1930s depression.

Until recently the ground wasn’t much to look at, and major football games in Tampere took place at Ratina or Pyynikin Stadion, but in 1993 a refurbishment took place and the ground was the home for ‘big football’ in Tampere. The main stand was built then.

As you can see, it’s not that big, but when it’s even a quarter full the atmosphere is quite something. The floodlight pylons are a great landmark at night matches too, and when Tampere United played TPS at Tammela in front of 1,800 people in 2007, the atmosphere was one of the best I’ve ever seen at a TamU home game.

This is the pre-match display from Tampere United fans before the TPS game. It means ‘home at last’, a sentiment I heartily agree with.

The second best football ground in Finland is of course the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki:

When full, this is an amazing place to watch football. Even when it isn’t full, the atmosphere is pretty good thanks to the Finland fans in the North Curve.

Now we should move on to other grounds. Hietalahti Stadium in Vaasa is a wonderful old wooden stadium. It was built in 1936 and holds 4,600 spectators, of which 1,500 are under cover. VPS and VIFK play there at the moment, and the ground has hosted Under 21 internationals in the recent past. HMK has taken some wonderful photos of the ground, and the best thing I can do is post them here rather than trying to talk about the place: