Ground: Raatin Stadion
Date: 18th June 2011
Match: AC Oulu - Viikingit 2-1 (Ykkönen)
Attendance: 3 211
When I planned this summer´s trip to Finland my main objective was to visit Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland. Being in the far north I was more than happy when I found out I could visit Oulu and Rovaniemi the same weekend. Oulu is situated in Österbotten county and is itself a long trip from southern Finland. After watching Åbo IFK on Friday evening I boarded the 21.05 night train from Turku to Oulu. This train is the only direct train from Turku to Oulu and 11 hours later, around 8am, I arrived in Oulu. Upon arrival at my hotel I was pleased finding out my room was already ready. I could even have an extra breakfast this morning.
AC Oulu were denied a license for the 2011 Veikkausliiga and despite appealing several times they were relegated to Ykkönen, the second tier of Finnish football. In recent years they have played at Castren urheilopuisto but the local athletics stadium has been renovated the last year or so and the match against Viiikingit turned out to be their first match at Raatin Stadion. I didn´t know this when I planned this trip but knowing there would be a healthy crowed I was more than pleased. I went down to Raatin Stadion around noon and found an open gate. Normally I don´t like grounds with running tracks but as I walked around inside Raatin Stadion I have to say it is quite a nice ground. The main stand is elevated and even if you are in the first row you have a decent view of the pitch. This stand, on the west side of the ground, has 2 500 covered seats and with a couple of bars etc it will serve Oulu well. The far side is an open stand with wooden seats.
Before returning to Raatin Stadion for the match I went to an Italian restaurant. There were not many there but when the owner found out I was in Oulu watching football he was more than thrilled. He was from Genoa and a big fan of Sampdoria, having been a season ticket holder for several years. We talked about football for 45 minutes, including analysing every Swedish player who had played in Italy. Once again, you never know when and where you will meet fellow football fanatics. As I returned to Raatin Stadion the rain had stopped and even the sun was occasionally out as well. When I found a seat in the upper rows of the main stand I was happy to have brought my coat. The strong wind was felt this high up in the stand. The match itself? Not the best I have seen in Finland but with Oulu scoring the winning goal 10 minutes before the end their fans could return home in a good mood. 2-1 to the home team mean they are closing in on the only promotion spot and with their good attendances they should definately play in Veikkausliiga. For this match more than 3000 turned up. That is one of the best attendances in Finnish football this season and even if it was the first match at Raatin Stadion it is still an impressive number.
Later in the evening I returned to my Italian friend. He was much busier now though. I told him about the match and my forthcoming visit to Rovaniemi. He had actually worked there and gave some tips about where to go. He then finished off my dinner/day giving me a nice liqueur on the house!
Fans and beer
View of play
View of Raatin Stadion