The best word to describe the match? Terrifying!

Trip Start Aug 23, 2009
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Trip End Sep 02, 2009


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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Sunday, August 30, 2009

Friday 28th August 2009. It started out as a normal, calm day: up at 8.30am, a spot of breakfast, shower and dress, then out into Helsinki. We set off in the search for our morning coffee and cake. Cafe Ursula in the centre proved to be our cafe of choice, and we both enjoyed our morning latte and munkki (I had the over-sugared variety and Lisa had a pink iced version). A small shopping trip was the call of the day before the excitement of the match that evening. The Moomin Shop in Kamp Galleria was our first port of call. Naturally we bought quite a few items for us, along with a few small things for the nieces and nephews. Then a stroll along the road to what turned out to be a huge Intersport where we both bought some of the Euros merchandise. A little further on and we were in Forum (one huge shopping centre, complete with supermarket on the ground floor, I spoke of it a few days ago I believe) to the other official Moomin shop where we had to buy a few more things (no, really, we had to, they made us!) and then back round to another Intersports shop to pick up a couple more things from the Euros merchandise collection that the huge Intersports didn't have. And that was our shopping done for the day - quite a few items, but with quite a large (and some may say silly) price tag! We were in a souvenir shop on our way home when a voice said to us 'Going to the match tonight?' Considering we were both wearing different England shirts we thought it was a fairly silly question, but both kept our semi-sarcastic remarks to ourselves and said yes. The voice belonged to a guy named Bob, who had seen us at the Italy game (making his question very silly, as opposed to fairly silly), he was in Finland for the group stages as well. He had tickets for the Turku game, but had discovered that the only way they (he had a mate, who wasn't in the shop at the time, who was going to the games with him) could get back to Helsinki on Monday was to leave the match 30minutes early. They didn't want to do that so were considering not going at all. He asked us how we were getting there and back, so we told him and said that we would have an ask around during the Russia game and see what we could sort out. He was very grateful, gave us his mobile number in case he didn't see us at the game and went his own merry way. So back home we went, to have a some lunch and prepare ourselves for the must win game against Russia.

At about 5.00pm we set off on our walk to the stadium. We had to walk, the tram would have made us too impatient just sitting there, waiting to arrive. We reached the Scandic at about 5.45pm and popped in on the off chance that some of the gang would be in the lobby waiting to leave as well. Mike was there. He wasn't wearing any flags, no wigs, no freaky contact lenses and no face paint. He was just Mike. So the three of us walked up to the stadium and found the Carneys, Bernie, Steve, Gavin and Keith in Chico's restaurant almost opposite the stadium. We went in and had a drink as they finished their meal. Pete, Emma and Richard (now being termed 'the litter' as they are the youngsters of the group) arrived shortly after us. 
We had already discovered that the easyjet flight of the day was delayed at Gatwick, and anyone on the flight would be lucky to get to the stadium by kick off. The Stoneys were on the flight, and the Whites had cancelled their seats and hotel booking because of the massive delay (about 6 hours or so in total).
We reached the stadium at 6.55pm and Jo gave us our tickets. There was an excited feel about the group - we were a larger group this time, with more people having travelled out for a long weekend or a week's holiday for the football. Everyone seemed really up for the game, and we weren't going to let the girls down on the stands. We were just beginning to have a look around at who was there and who we were still waiting for when Bob turned up asking if we had sorted out any travel for him yet. We had been there a whole 5 minutes, about 3 of those had been chatting to Jo to get our tickets! We told him we hadn't had chance yet as we'd just arrived, so he decided to stay close and introduced us to his friend (who's name I can't remember! I think it was Peter, but I could be making that up). After a little bit Mick stopped chatting and we asked him if he knew of any spaces on the coach for the Monday match. Mick said it shouldn't be a problem and just check with Jo, who seemed happy enough for Bob and friend to join us. Then Bob went away. We were a little relieved as he seems a very intense man. He was very grateful and apparently will make it worth our while. I'm happy just with a thanks.

So, the match itself. To be honest, I can't remember much of it! We all went through just about every possible emotional combination you can imagine! We need to watch the match back to properly remember it all. We do remember the Ukraine team sitting in the block next to us and continually cheering on the Russians. Isn't that a little like the Scottish supporting England!? (Mike, Pete and Richard decided there was banter to be had and so during the half time they crashed their pictures, the Ukraines were laughing with them and didn't object too much when they sat in the middle of the squad halfway through the second half. When the steward asked if Mike and co were bothering them they laughed and said yes, so back the banter boys came. It turned into a shouting match on the stands, I think we all know who won that! ) The Stoneys turned up just after the Russians had scored their 2nd goal. They weren't happy about the delay, but as Sandra said, at least Casey wasn't playing! Unitt was on in place of Casey, and Jonno was in for Neets. (We found out that Neets hurt her ankle and not her knee in the last match, her knee injury is something she was already carrying, and that is what was giving her the problems. She's got fluid on the knee and the swelling and pain didn't ease enough for her to play. It sounds like she won't be playing on Monday either.) The rest of the squad was as it was, except with Kelly starting in place of Jill.
We went back to the players' hotel after the game. The mood in the camp was a lot higher than the last time. The players didn't seem wholly satisfied with how they played, but were very happy with the result. They said that they made it harder than they needed to, but came together well as a team to bring the scoreline back to a winning one.
It was Kaz's 50th cap for the match, so scoring made it a special one for her, and for Mick and Marie who were very proud of her (as usual).
We shared a taxi with the Carneys back into the centre, dropping them off at their hotel on the way. It was only later last night (that being Saturday night) in a bar that we learned that the trains run all night. It could have been a cheaper journey home, but at least it wasn't as long as the last journey back from the girls' hotel.

Yesterday we went for a walk round the western part of the city. As usual we started walking through the Esplanade (it's the most interesting road off our island), we came across Blues News, a blues festival going on on the bandstand so we had a listen, then we came across a man and his puppets, and finally a clown on a bin. That was our first 5 minutes of our walk!
Our plan was to find the mainland swimming beach (as we had been told it was lovely over there), then head over to the stadium via Sibelius' monument and maybe the church in the rock. We took a slightly longer route than we needed (darn the new buildings and roads that aren't on the map!) and found ourselves back on the coast where we started our walk of the southern coast. So we walked north this time instead of south, past what looked like the office centre of Helsinki and then past a few giant graveyards before getting to the coastal point we had wanted to start from. We stopped for lunch at Regatta Cafe and watched a ball game played in canoes, involving 1 ball, 2 high goals, a bunch of blokes in canoes, 2 refs and a lot of splashing. We have no idea what the game was, but it looked fun. If anyone can shed some light then answers on a postcard please! By this point it was coming up to 4pm and we wanted to watch the Finns' last group game against the Ukraines so we headed off to the stadium, stumbling onto the Sibelius monument as we went. This monument is a bunch of metal pipes (apparently reminiscent of organ pipes) and a bust of Sibelius himself (I would give you a history lesson here, if I knew anything about Sibelius apart from him writing music!). Then it was on to the match.
What a dull match it was. It probably didn't help that we were both still exhausted from the night before, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near as exciting as our game! The Ukraines won 1-0. They celebrated well for a team who had just crashed out of the Euros! Dinner was at Chico's (where we met up with half the gang the night before). Massive burgers and chips were enjoyed by us both. Then it was off the The Fellowes Bar (next door!) to meet up with Mike and the Carneys for a drink or two. We all headed into the centre and had a few more in the Sports Academy bar before heading home just after midnight (another non-early night in our holiday). It was a great evening, just relaxing and laughing with friends. We're all meeting up in a couple of hours to watch the France Norway game this afternoon. It should be a good match as it's the fight for 2nd place in their group. We'll more than likely be heading off to a bar after the game.

Might make a new entry later on, it all depends what time we get in really! No blog tomorrow, we're meeting at 3.30pm at the Holiday Inn for another coach journey to the England game against Sweden. Win it and we can win the group! (Honest, it's true!). So it's going to be a late one (for a change!).

Sing your hearts out for the girls tomorrow!

Big love
Sam & Lisa x
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