What a mix of emotions!
Trip Start Aug 23, 2009
12Trip End Sep 02, 2009
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We were up and out a decent time, all packed up and dressed for the game (packed lunch, flags, cameras, sweets, everything you need for a long coach journey). Off we went to visit the Olympic tower for a lofty look at the city and a stroll through the parks round by the lakes next to the stadium, before heading up to the Holiday Inn for 3.30pm to meet with the gang and travel up to the match (which could result in either us finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in our group).
We reached the Olympic tower to discover that it was closed for the day thanks to the match that afternoon (Russia v Italy), so instead we paid our 5euros each and went to the sport museum next door. The museum is small and full of Olympic memorabilia, including a fine selection of javelins, ice skates and skis used in various Olympic competitions over the years. The highlight was the women's football exhibition that had been laid on for the tournament. That was small as well.
We headed on up to the Holiday Inn after a stroll and got there just after 3pm. The Whites had arrived shortly before us, having flown in that day and hoping not to have to be flying back out the next day. Mike arrived on the same tram as us, and slowly the hotel foyer filled up with excited and nervous England families and fans. Jo arrived with Zoe from the FA to make sure everyone was there, to give tickets out and to get us on the coaches and up to Turku in good time for the match.
We all shared the various mathematical calculations for 'what happens if...' for all scoreline possibilities, and we were all hoping for the third place slot so the Germans were avoided, but we all wanted to beat the Swedes as well, mainly because we knew we could!
The game itself felt fairly tense up in the stands. The girls looked tired. Alex was obviously struggling with her groin injury, especially throughout the second half, Kelly's knee wasn't 100% (not that you could tell during the second half) and Neets' knee was still not allowing her to play. The starting line-up was the same as the last game, but with Casey back in after her suspension and Unitt back on the bench.
The response to the Swedes first goal wasn't good from us all until we realised it had been disallowed (we heard that it was for impeding the keeper, but it looked good to all of us in the stands). Then Faye scored her great header - hurrah (and was rightly named player of the match)! Not having to chase the game was a good thing for us, and not conceding a goal early on in the game was even better. And then the penalty. Was it a penalty? We really need to watch it back
Throughout most of the second half the team were still pushing on and going for goal, with them coming mighty close several times. It was only after the final whistle that the girls found out they were through in third place and meeting Finland on Thursday in Turku (they actually get to stay in the same place for the next game!). Rachel Brown told us that they wished they had known that during the game as the Swedes were happy with a draw as it kept them at the top of the group and away from the Germans in the quarters (lucky Italy have got them instead!). But then it would probably have turned into the dull and pointless second half like the French played in their last game, when they all got booed off at the end of their match for not attempting to play a proper second half.
And that's when it hit us. The girls had got through to the quarter finals and we were going home.
We all went back to the players' hotel after the game. We were all allowed to eat (which was good because I was starving! We still had a roll each on the coach, but that's not always what you need after a game) so we had some herring, veg, mixed seafood and noodles, and mash. It was lovely! We sat with Tim, Margaret and Rachel whilst we ate, and then again in the bar after Hope had stood at our table hassling Margaret to stop talking and finish eating her pudding (neither me nor Lisa had pudding as we didn't want Hope to give us that look, which Margaret got instead! It was done with a smile on her face though, and she laughed as Margaret tried unsuccessfully not to go on about how lovely the food was instead of actually eating it). Finally Tim just took her dish away, and Margaret looked more than a little sad to see the end of her apple crumble and custard
The evening ended all too quickly. The coach drivers had to take us back at 11.30pm due to their limited driving hours. We said our good byes to the Browns (Margaret and Tim are staying in Turku for a few days) and left our Euros cap and programme with Rachel to be signed by the squad. (It just doesn't feel right asking the players to sign stuff for us after a game, it feels like an imposition on their time with their families). We also need to check the game has recorded on our Sky+ as Rachel was interviewed after the match and she doesn't have a copy, so we'll send one up for her as long as our Sky+ box has behaved itself! Rachel gave us a big hug good bye and seemed a little disappointed we weren't going to be there for the next game. As did Sue and Faye (who said they would get to the finals just for us). We went over to congratulate Hope on her success and to wish her our best for the Finland game. She wasn't happy that we were going home, and gave us both a big hug and thanked us for our support - as ever we thanked her for looking after us so well during and after the games. Pav wasn't at all happy that we were leaving, telling us that the 'number 9s' are supposed to be there all the time. She gave us a big hug as well, telling us that next time she saw us she wanted us to not be smoking - hopefully that'll be a week on Thursday for the final, so won't be likely!
The coach ride back was a quiet one, with us all sharing our photos and quietly chatting with Tim, Steve, Bernie, Mick and Marie as others slept. We got back to Helsinki around 1.30am and walked back to our apartment, full of a mix of emotions, but mainly proud and pleased that the girls had done their job and got through to the quarters. (It's the less difficult side of the draw on paper, Finland in the quarters, then either France or the Netherlands in the semis, and then the only time we can now meet Germany is in the finals - got to be pleased with that!)
Somehow it was 3am before we went to bed.
Some other random Finnish things for you that I forgot to write about last time:
Helsinki This Week is an English tourist listings magazine, which comes out monthly, unlike the suggested time frame in its title.
The toilets in most of the cafes and department stores have a shower attachment on the sink in each cubicle. Why?
They have automatic hand towels (you know the roll of towel in a box on the wall that you pull round to dry your hands on - not the individual paper towels) which give you a whole 3 seconds to dry your hands on before rolling itself tightly back in, so you have to pull another section out in order to finish drying your hands. How annoying would that be if you have just had a shower in the cubicle with the shower attachment?
And on that note...
Sam & Lisa xx
Where I stayed