I had the choice of FC Lahti versus ND Gorica; or HJK Helsinki against FK Vetra -both Europa League matches. Although I was in Finland visiting the HJK fans on tour with the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team I had already been to the Finnair Stadium last season, and we were all due back there on the Sunday, for a League match, so it was no contest!
Lahti is about an hour by train from Helsinki, & you can't miss the ground as the train approaches the town, as on the left you see the huge ski slope behind one of the goals! It's about a fifteen minute stroll to the stadium, programmes were given away free, & admission was 15 euros.
It's basically a two sided ground, with seating down both sides. Instead of a complete circuit like we usually do we're going to go into the main stand, cover that, then head over to the other side.
The ground is at the heart of a huge multi-sports complex.
You have to buy your tickets from these booths just outside.
Just beyond the one I queued at was this sculpture of a skier, or maybe ski jumper. I don't know who this is though.
This is the side of the main stand, with various sports highlighted on the side.
This was the footballer at the bottom of it.
Below that was this plaque, unfortunately I have no translation.
There were no actual turnstiles, just these gates where tickets were checked.
As I was taking a snap of the 'ticket barriers' these two got in the way. My initial thought was 'get out of the bloody way!'. But it actually made a half decent photo.
Here's another, right by the gate. a box of programmes were on the table, and you take them yourself, with some being given out too. Being English I took half a dozen! ;-)
This was one of the food and drink stands.
Inside I headed straight for the ski slope! This photo deosn't do it justice. It was huge, & dominates the skyline.
From this end of the stand we can see behind the goal, not a spectator area, but there is the big electronic scoreboard.
From this end of the stand we look over to the open bank of seats opposite.
I start moving along the stand, & here we look back down it.
From further along, towards the section where my ticket is for, we look across the pitch again.
From my seat I look down the stand, no escape from the ski slope!
To my right were this group, they were the 'hardcore' of the Lahti fans, who sang throughout the match.
The seats in front, just before kick off.
But in the corner in front of me there's lots of empty seats.
From my 'corner' we look behind the goal. you're not allowed to stand behind there.
A similar shot, but showing more of the terracing in the corner.
From this corner we look across the pitch, for a bit of goalmouth action.
This small bit of seating is on the curve, in the open, next to the main stand, with the terracing next to it. I
would hazard a guess that this is designed with the athletics in mind.
From near the front we look along the stand again.
Now we're moving behind the goal.
From a football ground perspective this is a curious bit of terracing.
From down here we get a full length shot of the main stand.
And across the pitch to the ski slope. You can get some sense of how huge it is from here.
The refreshment stand behind the goal, busy at half time.
There was some renovation work going on at this end, perhaps why no spectators were allowed to stand here.
Another look over the pitch, this time with the big athletics cage obscuring some of the view.
From this corner we can look back over to the main stand.
Now we're heading down the far side, with seating looking as if it has been built over the old terracing.
Here we look up into the seats...and the bright sun!
Climbing up them we look back behind the goal, still a big queue at the sausage stand.
Glancing down the open seats, with the ski slope dominating the skyline.
It's almost as if we're in a park, with the greenery around the top of the seats!
A shot of the wooden steps, down the seating.
Here we look back over to the section where I was sitting in the first half. Note the floodlights being on. It was bright daylight throughout the whole game, yet they were on full blast from before kick off! Why?
Across the halfway line, the second half about to kick off.
From the same spot, but behind us is the camera crew.
Lots of fans happy to sit with the sun in their eyes. This side was cheaper than the other stand, but I don't know by how much.
We're now at the far end of the open stand. The scoreboard all lit up.
Not so many supporters sat at this end.
From over here you can see how many are sat in the main stand.
Here's another similar shot from behind the goal, more central. I had to ask a steward for permission to go and take it, which he kindly did.
Turning back, this is from the front of the open side.
On the billboards at the back is an advertisment for the forthcoming
Women's European Championships. Won by Germany.
I'm now heading back to my seat on the dar side opposite.
Home fans flying their flag above them, and celebrating a goal.
Still cheering their team. Note the steep terrace in the background. That is for the ski jump!
Game over & the Lahti fans celebrate victory.
The players start to come over to salute them.
And the fans respond.
Now the game is over I head behind the main stand.
I go back into the main stand to get a couple more shots, when it is empty.
I hadn't noticed 'Lahti' spelt out in the seats opposite, until now.
These are the press seats.
One last look at the main stand, from the ski jump end.
And it's at the ski jump where we end our tour of FC Lahti, right where we started it.
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Usually floodlights are on even on daylight if a match is shown on TV. This way there are no shadows (due to stands) and the TV picture quality is better.
This match was not shown on Finnish TV, not sure about elsewhere. It seems it was videoed though.
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