Ground: Wiklöf Holding Arena
Date: 6th July 2014
Match: IFK Mariehamn - Inter Turku 3-1 (Veikkausliiga)
Attendance: 1 159
On Saturday morning I used the only flight of the day from Skellefteå airport and around 1pm I was in central Stockholm. A friend of mine, Håkan, met up with me for a late lunch and since we hadn´t seen each other for quite a while we had a lot of catching up to do. My destination this 4 July was Mariehamn, the capital of Åland.
The Åland Islands (or Åland) is an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland that consists of an archipelago lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. Collectively, the islands in the archipelago form the smallest region of Finland, constituting 0.49% of its land area and 0.50% of its population. Åland comprises Fasta Åland (Main island) and a further 6 500 skerries and islands to its east. Fasta Åland is separated from the coast of Sweden by 38 kilometres of open water to the west. In the east, the Åland archipelago is contiguous with the Finnish Archipelago Sea. Åland's only land border is located on the uninhabited skerry of Märket, which it shares with Sweden. Åland's autonomous status means that those provincial powers normally exercised by representatives of the central Finnish government are largely exercised by its own government.
A trip to Åland to watch an IFK Mariehamn home match has been a target for me for quite some time and I was pleased finally being able to go there. There are not many flights to Mariehamn and I had booked a bus/boat-trip. From Stockholm I went by bus to Kapellskär. This trip took around 75 minutes and after a 30-minute wait at Kapellskär I could board MS Rosella. Åland is a major destination for cruises and since Åland is not a member of the EU a lot of alcohol is being sold on the boats (tax-free). The 2,5 hour journey from Kapellskär was a very nice one. So many islands and rocks and with the glorious weather it is not difficult to understand why so many people travel to Åland. Since Åland officially belongs to Finland it is in a different time zone and at 23.25 local time I was in Mariehamn. Still bright outside.
Kick-off for IFK Mariehamn vs Inter Turku was at 18.30 meaning a full day of sightseeing in Mariehamn for me. The temperature this Sunday was considerably higher than in recent weeks and for the first time in quite a while it reallt felt like a warm summer day. I was down by the port area around noon and in the space of an hour three huge boats arrived. The warm weather was taking its toll on me and after a very late lunch I rested at my hotel room before making my way to Wiklöf Holding Arena, the home of IFK Mariehamn. In 2005 IFK Mariehamn played their first ever match in Veikkausliiga, the top division in Finland. The attendance for the opening match back then was 4 505 and is still the record attendance for football in Åland. This year the average is 1 300 and since the only stand, on the west side of the ground, has a capacity of 1 600 everyone who wants can sit during the matches. Inter Turku brought around 25 fans to Åland for this match. Neither teams have been successful this year but if this had been an important match I guess many more would have come by boat from Turku this afternoon. In total 1 159 was at Wiklöf Holding Arena for the match and in the first half the home fans could celebrate three times, 3-0 to Mariehamn at half-time. The second half was of much lower quality but Inter Turku still managed to find the net. This was the only goal in the second half though and the match finished 3-1 to Mariehamn. This was my 13th ground visit in Finland and hopefully I will be back for more Veikkausliiga football next summer. At 07.45 on Monday morning I then left Åland and I will now spend a few days with friends in Eskilstuna before going back home.
Sightseeing pictures from Åland
On my way to Åland!
On my way to Åland
Rosella arriving in Mariehamn
Rosella arriving in Mariehamn
Another boat arriving
Pictures from IFK Mariehamn vs Inter Turku
Wiklöf Holding Arena
Home fans enjoying the nice weather
Åland´s and Finland´s flags
View of play
View of play
Corner, IFK Mariehamn
Inter Turku fans