Further to my previous hand wringing about the weather, I had a look at some outdoor hockey locations today. After a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued first and foremost by the origins of the sport in Tampere. I have been there before, and been amused by the Finnish obsession with beating Sweden in 1995 and envious of the children who could spend all their time on the slapshot game without embarrassment, but this time was different.
I was the only visitor there surrounded by (far too many) guides, so the slapshot thing was out. I am too crap at it. The Globen exhibits are funny and always will be, but I’ve seen them before. Note to foreigners who might not expect it: Finns don’t do open top buses, they celebrate in cabriolets. I did have a crafty listen to ‘den glider in‘, though.
For those who don’t know, this was the song released by the Swedish national team and Nick Borgen before the championships. The title and chorus is a line of commentary from the 1969 World Championships, which Sweden won. As the winning goal went in, the commentator screamed ‘it’s gliding in!’, a line that might possibly have as much significance for Swedes as Kenneth Wolstenholm’s commentary on the 1966 World Cup final does for my compatriots.
The lyrics are a little bit premature, to put it mildly. ‘We have done it before, we will do it again, beating them all one by one’, the song begins. So when Finland won their first ever World Championship – under a Swedish coach, Curt Lindström, and in Stockholm to boot – they immediately adopted the song as their own anthem. For some reason Finnish people speaking Swedish sound incredibly sarcastic to me, an effect not wholly avoided by those whose first language is Swedish.
The celebrations took place in Sergels Torg, the square that had been reserved for the Swedish squad to parade their trophy, with 20,000 Finns going mental instead. When they got back they had huge parties – using the aforementioned cabriolets as transport – in the market squares of Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. And of course they released their own version of the song….
Anyway, I digress. The first part of the Finnish HHOF is the section with all the old equipment used by players in the good old days, and a few pictures of the first games in Tampere. The equipment looks flimsy, to be honest, and it makes you wonder just how hard people must have been in those days. The pictures show the first hockey games in Tampere, which took place on the ice at Lake Pyhäjärvi. Today I went to have a look at the ice there, to see if it would support a game now, and the unsurprising answer is that no, it would not:
This lake only froze this week and after 20 or so hours of temperatures above zero, it wasn’t in a good state. I also had a look at the artificial ice at Pyynikki, which was the main stadium for Tappara/TBK and Ilves before Hakametsä was built. Pyynikki is something of a haven for sport in Tampere, as well as having beautiful beaches, forests, a viewing tower with an excellent cafe, and some very expensive residential property. The athletics track there used to be the home of Tampere football, and the Tampere tennis tournament takes place near Hotel Rosendahl every year too.
Here is the hockey stadium in the days when it was used more regularly:
This period (from 1940-1960) was a golden age for hockey in Tampere, with clubs from the city winning 13 out of 20 championships. Curiously, given this relative dominance, only in 1958, 1959 and 1960 did two Tampere sides contest the final. The kits were a LOT better in those pre-advertising days:
Pentti Toivonen (TK-V), Erkki Koiso (Ilves) and Yrjö Hakala (Tappara) pose for a picture in 1960
Here’s Pyynikki stadium today:
No real point to these pictures, I just thought you might appreciate before and after shots taken from my lovely winter walk. And I did want to reassure Ursus Arctos that artificial ice is still in use and not in significant danger, despite what HBL might have to say about it.
As for the future, who knows? Hopefully it won’t be as bad as people fear, and this winter will prove to be some kind of horrific one-off. While I don’t play hockey, I really will be annoyed if sunny, crisp days like today become rarer with this climate change business.