Gameday build up

Today marks the point that I have been working towards for the past 6 months. Early mornings in the Gym and evening football workouts with Dave and Little Stewey have all been directed towards the start of the Maple League season. At 18:05 Finnish time (14:05 BST), we kick off our regular season at home to the Tampere Saints – a team who last year beat us at home by a scoreline of 28 – 42. This appears to be a point of deep regret for the returning players, who do not believe that they should have allowed the Saints to gain one of their season’s 2 victories in the Velodrome. Tonight it seems, the players seek redemption.

On Friday we had our last practice before gameday. In my view, this was the best practice that the defence has had since I arrived in Helsinki two weeks ago. The tempo was excellent, everyone was singing from the same song sheet and the pass coverage worked like a dream. The work ethic was outstanding too. Every player left the entire pre season on the training pitch and emerged ready for kick off.

Saturday was a rest day. No practice, no gym, just rest. JD and myself headed down to the beach to meet Hannu, who plays left Cornerback. Vuosaari is just a few metro stops from Kontula and has an extremely beautiful waterfront. The beach faces a large cove into the Baltic sea, with a series of small islands dotted across the horizon. As is standard in Helsinki, there are pine trees covering the shorelines and large rock formations jutting out into the sea, draped with sunbathing Finns. We explored Vuosaari for a while before the storm clouds rolled in, at which point we high tailed it to the mall for some over-priced Chinese food.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home with the Championship play-off final (Blackpool in the Premiership – who’d have thunk it?) and the Champions League final. We completed the decals on our shiny new Football helmets and put our feet up.

Today is yet more rest. We are meeting at the Velodrome at 3:00 so will be relaxing until then when team build up begins.

One side note regarding the title of this blog. Outside our apartment there lives a large stone turtle. His name is Horatio and he is somewhat of a good luck charm. Each day when we leave the apartment, JD and I approach Horatio and give him a firm slap around the face. Sometimes this slap is accompanied by some name – calling. It doesn’t hurt him, he’s made of stone. Anyway, if you feel like helping us out today and you’re feeling particularly superstitious, find yourself a turtle and give it a good old slap. Go on….. Slap the Turtle!

JD gives Horatio a firm clip around the eye