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Kemi

Ground: Sauvosaaren kenttä

Visits: 1

Date: 29th June 2017

Match: Kemi - Rovaniemi  1-1  (Veikkausliiga)

Attendance: 3 325

The highlight of this tour was the Lapland derby between Kemi and Rovaniemi. Being promoted two years ago 2017 is the second ever season for Kemi in Veikkausliiga, the top division in Finland. From where I live in southern Sweden it is a long way to Kemi but with the derby against Rovanimei being played at the end of June I simply had to go to this game. Last year 3 976 turned up for this game and that is also the record attendance for football in Kemi. Staying the night in Oulu I had an easy day travelwise. The bus journey took 90 minutes and as I arrived in Kemi the clouds were beginning to dissolve. It was obvious the weather was going to be really nice during my stay. After checking-in at my hotel I made the 20-minute walk to Sauvosaaren kenttä, the main football ground in Kemi. Until 2015 Kemi played at Sauvosaaren urheilupuisto  but that (athletics) ground is nowhere close to being able to host Veikkausliiga football and a new, football-only, ground was built right next to the old ground. Sauvosaaren kenttä has an official capacity of 4 000 of which 1 200 can be seated in the main stand. The far side has around 1 000 seats in an open stand and there is also a grass/gravel bank behind the north end where fans can stand to watch the game. The pitch is a natural grass pitch which is a bit unusual this far to the north. In the nice weather I have to say the ground looked very inviting. Kemi is situated only 25 km from the Swedish border and where the Baltic Sea, or to be more precise the Bay of Bothnia, “ends”. I decided to have lunch by the waterfront and the salmon was as enjoyable as the view. This time of the year there is 23 hours of daylight in Kemi which is something I will always find fascinating!

Kick-off was, as always in Finland, at 18.30 and I was outside the ground around an hour before kick-off. The sky was by now clear and I knew I had a great experience ahead of me. My seat was in row 9 (out of 10) in the main stand and despite having the sun in my eyes I had a great view of the action. Both teams are just above the relegation zone so plenty at stake this lovely Thursday evening. Rovaniemi hit the woodwork and then Kemi did the same twice. In the 31st minute Kemi finally scored, 0-1 at half-time. In the second half Rovaniemi equalized in the 55minute and both teams then created enough chanced to win this derby but no more goals and it finished 1-1 at Sauvosaaren kenttä. The main stand, as well as the open seated stand on the far side, was completely full and in the grass/gravel bank behind the north end was full of people as well. This kind of game is what makes football and groundhopping fun to me. I would chose Kemi v Rovaniemi (especially at the end of June) every day of the week over for instance Arsenal v Reading. I know, I am weird!

Weird or not I have a day full of travelling ahead of me. At 06.55 I will leave Kemi by bus and at 07.20/06.20 (Finnish time/Swedish time) I should be at Haparanda/Tornio bus station. The two cities, despite being in two countries and in different time zones, share bus station. 06.50 the bus to Luleå departs and at 09.45 I will be in Luleå. 15 minutes to the airport before flying to Stockholm where I´ll be until Sunday.

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Welcome to Kemi

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Harbour

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Harbour

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Harbour

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Santa Claus, harbour area

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Ship

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Sailing lesson

Pictures from Kemi v Rovaniemi

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Two grounds

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West Stand

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West Stand

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North End

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North Stand

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Rear of the East Stand

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East Stand

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East Stand

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South End

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Fans entering

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Players and officials entering the field

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Kick-off

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View of play

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Official away section

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West Stand

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West Stand

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West Stand

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Kemi fans

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West Stand

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View of play

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North End

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North End

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East Stand

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1-0

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Half-time

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Half-time

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Pano

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Pano

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Pano

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Pano

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Pano