Until for some days ago I imagined somehow that I’ve heard almost everything about fans from places like Indonesia or Africa who support this and that team in any kind of league elsewhere. Much because that we can today find any sort of information about any team, any time at the day twenty-four-seven, thanks to the Internet.
So finding a French guy for example hardcore supporting Boston Bruins for example is probably not that hard any more as it was for 15-20 years ago. A slight exaggeration it might be, but still….On the other hand I just have to say that we who loves every kind of sport that we really do live in golden ages with all these info from everywhere easily reached by the Internet., any game, any league, any time during the day. Can it be better?
Well…. When things doesn’t seems to surprise anymore, the world hit one in the head and shake up until one is for sure awake. I love those moments, especially when it makes me smile big. Adams story is just excellent and something for the rest of the world to be aware about.
Adam Williams, from England turned up front of my eyes for some days ago. I contacted him by twitter and email. He’s already a hardcore supporter of the Finnish Liiga-team Helsinki IFK and knows a lot about the club, every section, probably more than a lot Helsinki people do, included me who writes about the league week to week.
In the beginning of the mail he explains that there’s a few other Helsinki IFK-supporters around Britain and he’s a good friend with someone who supports Espoo Blues as well. So I send over to Adam a bunch of questions to look up what’s the story behind all this.I have done a translation of this interview for the Swedish speaking readers in my Arena Kalevala blog at Betsafe.
What’s your name?
-My name is Adam, and I am 24 years old.
Where in UK do you live?
-I live in a town called Basingstoke in the south of England, about 40 miles from London.
-I have one brother but no family of my own.
-I work for the local government. It’s just a standard office job, which is great for when you want to read Ilta-sanomat all morning.
How come HIFK? What’s the story behind your support all the way from UK to Helsinki?
-I had just become interested in British hockey and was visiting Helsinki for the first time. I decided to adopt one of the three teams in the Helsinki area so I went to watch some games! My first game was Jokerit vs Tappara, and I was stunned at the size of the arena, 13,000 seats for ice hockey?! As you can imagine, we don’t have that in the UK. Anyways, Tappara won 4-3 so I crossed off Jokerit from my list, I didn’t like how they played either. Next game was Blues vs Kärpät, and Blues won 3-1, but the Kärpät fans drowned out the sound of the home fans and the arena was a pain to get to, so I crossed them off the list too. Now all my hopes were with HIFK or I was going home without a team. March 6th 2010, HIFK vs Lukko, and I was sitting amongst the away fans (thanks, Lippupalvelu…). There was a charm to the arena, it wasn’t new, the leg room is crap and it was nothing fancy at all – just how I like it! HIFK won 3-2, much to the disgust of the Lukko drummer in front of me who almost broke his drum in protest. From there onwards, HIFK have become a major part of me, and they gained a dedicated international fan for life.
How do you follow Finnish hockey from there?
-With great difficulty! I don’t speak Finnish, so I rely on the absolutely flawless tool that is Google translate. Okay, it may be flawed, the translations only work about 10% of the time, but you come to learn how to make sense of the mess Google creates. I also have a few friends in Finland who keep me informed about all sports in the IFK organsation.
What do you like about Finnish hockey in general?
-It’s bigger, better, and sometimes even cheaper than British hockey, and it makes for a great yet unusual holiday destination. I feel there’s also a great sense of local pride in these teams, they’re not just clubs, they can be the identity for smaller towns. This might be an unpopular opinion but the league has a no nonsense stance against fighting, and I have to agree with them, I really don’t care for fighting, this isn’t UFC. I understand it can boost morale in a team, but I’ll tell you what else can, looking at the fans and thinking “You pay my salary, this goal is for you”. And 3 points for a win! 2 points makes no sense at all like in NHL and British hockey. And also the possibility of relegation, another thing we don’t have but should.
Do you follow other leagues?
-I haven’t been to a hockey game in Britain for almost a year but I try to keep up with it when I can. I don’t follow NHL, it can have all the best players in the world but it will still be a league purely motivated by money with lacklustre fans and their poor atmosphere. But I don’t really follow much hockey other than SM-Liiga, because as an Englishman I am morally obliged to enjoy football so I spend some, if not most, time watching and reading up on the “Beautiful Game”.
Who’s your favorite player in HIFK? Overall and now?
-Well, last season I was fan of Eero Somervuori and Ilari Melart, but we will see what this season brings, some of the North American players look like they could do a good job, but that’s only if we don’t disturb the harmony they’ve developed with each other. Overall, I guess it would be Mikael Granlund, because I’ve only been a fan since 2010 and he was such a star player for us in that time, but there’s also Kimmo Kuhta, Toni Söderholm and you can’t forget the historical importance of players like Matti Hagman and Matti Murto.
Any other favorite player in LIIGA?
-Before they moved abroad, I liked Justin Azevedo and Antti Raanta, but there’s also Eric Perrin, Teemu Ramstedt and Teemu Aalto to name a few.
What do you think about Jokerit’s move to KHL?
-I think it’s quite funny, actually. Harkimo is such a little bitch and appears to have no respect for the club he owns, I feel like I have more respect for Jokerit and I don’t even like them, it’s all about money with that guy. Jokerit are a big club and have a major role in the SM-Liiga, but hey, what is tradition, history, pride and the fans’ opinion when money is involved? The Liiga will continue on, there are other teams who care about the sanctity of domestic hockey, and Jokerit will go forth and become a mediocre team in Russia. We’ll enjoy our away trips to Hämeenlinna, Lahti, Tampere, Espoo, Turku, it’s 400km to their nearest team in St Petersburg.
Will you miss them? Or will you think that’s good?
-Yes and no. City rivalries are not as black and white as most view it, it is a sibling rivalry. We don’t like Jokerit, they’re this annoying younger brother who only care about being better than everyone else, whatever the cost, so no, I won’t miss them for that. But, then I will say yes for exactly the same reasons. They are this annoying younger brother who we enjoy beating up, and like a brother, we are from the same house [Helsinki], we have the same blood. There are families in Helsinki who are split between supporting HIFK and Jokerit, and nothing adds to the tension like a good ole derby game, why would you want to take away one of the greatest rivalries in hockey?
Have you been in Finland and watched HIFK on spot?
-Many times. I went to Finland 4 times last year, I always try to get out there at least twice a year to watch my team. I don’t just watch HIFK hockey though, I’ve been to see a bandy game too and I really want to watch a football and handball game – anyone who supports HIFK shouldn’t just support the hockey team, this is a sports club and the other sections need your support too. The fans are brilliant though, and the fan group Stadin Kingit put on a great show at the football games.
What do you know about Finland beside HIFK and Helsinki? Feel free to tell anything.
-I know that Long Drink is awesome, and the milk is so much better than British milk. Reindeer tastes great! Finnish rap music is the worst thing I have ever heard. Your education system is better, the ladies are more attractive, the snow is more impressive than ours. You’re quite good with technology, Porvoo is nice, I haven’t seen a Burger King either, and it’s practically impossible for me to move there unless I marry a Finnish woman! I haven’t been arrested for running out in the middle of the road yet, Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim is the greatest Finn ever, Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi, and there should probably be a statue of Jari Litmanen if there isn’t one already.
Who will win the Canada-bucket (Kanada-malja) this season?
-Tough to decide, but I do think Jokerit are really going to want to win it in their final year. Then you have last years finalists Ässät and Tappara wanting to work on that success, but I don’t think either will make it that far again, so I’m going to go with either one of the J’s – Jokerit or JYP.
What team will be dangerous and make surprises for the year? What’s your prediction?
-Ilves will not finish bottom! I do think TPS will be a dark horse this year. HIFK will make the top 6 again and Lukko will not make the playoffs.
To the last… and it’s a must to ask this: Have you been in a real sauna?
-I have not! There is something about sitting naked inside an oven that doesn’t feel right, I’ll go have a walk in the snow instead and pick up a hamburger on the way.
Many thanks to Adam for taking his time to make this interview. This is the first time as well for him he admitted. No one can tell really that would be the case, he did this excellent. I am quite sure that we will hear more about Adam and his HIFK-friends from Britain in the future in one-way or another.
And…who knows, it might happen that Adam moves one beautiful day to Helsinki and Finland permanently all the way from England, to follow his Helsinki IFK closer. Let’s hope so!
Although, I have a strong feeling that Adam will remain a faithful supporter of the club rest of his life wherever he will be around the world. Only set up the computer where there is electricity and Internet connection and find the first best stream. For me, and for all of us who loves hockey Adams story is somehow a sign that the hockey family is getting closer to each other, which mean also that our hockey family grows bigger a bit day by day.
/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala, Betsafe
Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish Liiga and national teams.
Note 1: If you wish to know more about Helsinki IFK, just click on the name.
Note 2: The award for the playoff winner in Finnish Liiga is called in Finnish Kanada-Malja, which could be translated to the Canada-bucket…or perhaps even Canada-cup. If you wish to see how it’s look like. Read the last post about Eric Perrin & Ramzi Abid. There you will see Perrin lift the bucket or cup in the air. Just click on their names.