Phew... and breathe! What a whirlwind few weeks it has been since my last column. So much has happened in such a short space of time. We have played nearly three games a week since the season has started and there is no letting up as we have just gone into a period of playing on a Monday, Wednesday and Sunday for consecutive weeks. It’s something that I haven’t ever experienced before from my time playing in England, America and the LOI of course.
It’s been a tough few weeks as we have been knocked out of the Suomi Cup against MYPA after extra time. This was a competition which we had aimed to win at the start of the season so we’re still getting over that disappointment. We are currently sitting 8th in the Veikkausliiga at the moment but it’s definitely a position that belies where the team really is at this present moment.
So far we have dominated most games, creating numerous chances and have had so many contentious refereeing decisions given against us. I won’t go too much into detail about that though as a tweet I made about a certain refereeing performance made the local newspaper and almost landed me in trouble.
I also won’t go into detail, as promised in my previous column, about how I had to chase after my team bus before a friendly game against JJK. The bust left without me with my shorts down around my ankles. It’s a long story – and probably better I don’t go into the details!
We have a chance today to climb up the table in a game which I have been looking forward to so much since I arrived in Finland. We are playing against HJK – currently the reigning Veikkausliiga Champions having retained their title last season. In fact, up until recently, they had the former Ajax, Liverpool and Finnish International superstar Jari Litmanen on their playing staff.
My team FC Haka and HJK have a huge tradition in Finnish football and it’s going to be one of those games that I shall fondly look back on and be proud to have participated in. Hopefully we get the right result. Our form suggests we are definitely on the way up.
Aside from football matters on the pitch a lot has gone on off the pitch to report on. Namely the weather! Long gone are the days of -28 degree temperatures and frozen nasal hairs. These have replaced by sunny +16 degrees weather. Soon we are going to be expecting days of +25 degrees every day so I’d like to publicly rub that fact in to all the people who laughed at me during our Ice Age typed Spring!
The Finnish summer has finally arrived and boy do they celebrate it in style. On the 1st of May all of Finland celebrates with a traditional day of fun with carnivals, activities - and alcohol called Vappu! It’s like St Patrick’s Day but instead of leprechauns running around there are life sized Angry Birds flying about. This is because the popular smartphone app was actually created in Finland.
Myself and my housemate and team captain Shane Robinson went to the Finnish capital Helsinki to soak in the atmosphere. The whole city was packed full of all sorts of people celebrating the day. My fondest memory of Vappu was when I went to visit my friend Suzanne who is a fashion student currently on an internship in. We were catching up as we hadn’t met since she moved over from Ireland.
We were already discussing the mad difference in cultures when this drunk reveller dressed up as Bugs Bunny on a skateboard started to cause mayhem. He was knocking people out of the way left right and centre with little or no remorse. Thankfully though normal service was resumed as he came to a crashing halt right in front of us as he clipped one person too many.
Needless to say myself and Suzie laughed in his face while the onlookers observed in shock and horror. But, to his credit, he dusted himself off, got up, mounted his skateboard once again, robbed an apple from the nearest food stall and continued on his Rabbit Rampage in the city!
In two weeks’ time from Tuesday I will be finally home for a break from the Veikkausliiga. It will be my first time home since January and I cannot wait to see all of my family and friends. I’m also going to try and take in as many LOI games as possible whilst I’m at home as I keep up to date every week with the league goings on via the Extratime.ie site.
I’ve watched every live LOI game this season that has been broadcasted on RTE and I have to say I’ve been mostly impressed with my former side St Patrick’s Athletic. Myself and Robbo watched St Pats take on Derry City at the Brandywell recently and some of the football St Pat’s played that day was the best I’ve seen in the LOI in a long, long time. Hopefully that form continues and the Airtricity title finishes up in Inchicore at the end of the season.
Although I’ve been homesick from time to time I can genuinely say that this has been the best experience of my life and I’m lucky to be playing for such a big club as FC Haka. I’d also like to remind people that it’s my 26th Birthday on the 23rd of May and that all cards and presents should be sent to:
On that birthday note, it’s a Finnish tradition that when it’s your birthday you have to bake a Finnish Cake (Kakku) for the whole playing and coaching staff. The same tradition applies for when you make your league debut and score your first goal for the club. Having made my league debut in the first game of the season I was allowed the luxury of buying a Kakku from the local supermarket which went down quite well.
I sincerely doubt I will ever have to bake or buy a Kakku for opening my scoring account that’s for sure!
Below you will see a photo of a nice pink baking tray that I purchased especially for the momentous occasion. Although I’d like to let all the female readers know that I would be baking as the naked chef, it’s fair to say Robbo will be helping me 99% of the way so an apron will have to be sported!
This week’s #ShaneysShoutout goes to my former UCD and Sporting Fingal team mate Conan Byrne who is raising money for disabled children living in Zambia. He’s organising a Charity Sky Dive in aid of the Presentation Sisters under the guidance of Sister Cathy Crawford – and has managed to rope me in too!
Follow on Twitter: @ConanByrneZambianMissions or if you’re interested in sponsoring any amount please let me know and I’ll personally collect it from you when I’m home (28th May). Plus you will have the knowledge that I will be crying like a baby as I jump out of a plane.
To get in touch regarding a donation follow me on Twitter - @shaneywaney4 or add me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/shanemcfaul