Ground: Rovaniemen keskuskenttä
Date: 19th June 2011
Match: Rovaniemi - Vaasa 1-1 (Veikkausliiga)
Attendance: 1 412
When most people hear the name Rovaniemi they think of Santa Claus or maybe snow and cold winters. Being situated only 8 km south of the Arctic Circle, in Finnish Lapland, there is more or less a midnight sun this time of the year. For groundhoppers Rovaniemi means something else. It is the most northern club/ground in the top divisions in Finland making this the ultimate(?) place to visit. From Oulu, itself regarded as far north, it takes 2,5 h by train to Rovaniemi. I stayed in Oulu for two nights and was of course looking forward to my day trip to Rovaniemi. When I planned this summer´s tour to Finland a visit to Rovaniemi was top priority. Being an hour delayed (track problems) I only arrived in Rovaniemi 2 hours before kick-off though. Rovaniemen keskuskenttä, as the football ground is called, is close to the railway station and on my way to the city centre I popped in to take some pictures of the ground. After a quick "dinner" and a visit to the river I was back at the ground half an hour or so before kick-off.
There are only two stands at Rovaniemen keskuskenttä. The far (south) stand is an all-seated wooden stand. The north side has a small covered wooden stand combined with (wooden!) benches on a grass slope on either side of the roofed stand. The ground is quite basic but as I understand it the club is planning to build a new moderns stand on the south side. RoPS (Rovaniemen PalloSeura), were relegated from Veikkausliiga two seasons ago but after winning Ykkönen last year they are now back in Finland´s top flight. The match against VPS (Vaasan PalloSeura) was not a good one. Rovaniemi scored early on but the rest of the match was more an exhibition of "How not to score in a football match". Vaasa did actually manage to score though. In the last second of of the 4 minutes added on they scored from a free-kick and the match ended 1-1. By now it was bucketing down with rain making this a truly miserable ending to the evening for the home fans. My evening ended with the train from Rovaniemi being an hour late. We arrived back in Oulu by 00.30, still bright outside though!
View of the river
View of the river
A closer look at the main stand
Wooden benches on a grass slope
View of play
View of Rovaniemen keskuskenttä