I've had a few people moaning in the life of ETS that I don't give enough time to the Ykkönen (officially division one, the second tier of Finnish football). Fair enough, I probably don't... But this weekend saw the final round of fixtures, and what a finish.
The HIFK fans celebrate (photo via Tomi Leivo-Jokimäki)
It all started with KTP and HIFK fighting out for the one promotion place. KTP have led the table for virtually the entire season, while HIFK had been promoted from Kakkonen and were usually floating around the top half. KTP had lost their previous three games, while HIFK had won the last three (and had a superior goal difference). KTP needed to win, HIFK needed to better their result.
So what happened?
4200 people squeezed into Kotka's Arto Tolsa Areena to see KTP surely clinch their promotion at home to already relegated JIPPO. But that game ended goalless! Meanwhile in Helsinki, HIFK hosted FC Jazz - and were losing 1-2 with twenty minutes to go... But they fought back to win 4-2 and clinch promotion to Veikkausliiga for the first time since 1972.
Finland's capital gets a genuine derby match in 2015 (three of them to be fair!), these will be well worth a visit. Hopefully my friends at the ivory towers will sort out the fixtures to coincide with my visit... But KTP were also superb for large parts of the season, although that was largely due to the scoring of Jussi Aalto - when he stopped scoring, so did KTP. He ended up missing out on the top scorer prize after being overtaken by Haka's Kalle Multanen.
This graph by Lari Vesander shows how HIFK caught KTP after their meeting in early August, when KTP led by twelve points.
The highlights of the superb final round are below, which also include Ilves hitting double figures again Viikingit and Haka scoring six against PK-35.
Ilves - FC Viikingit 10-0
JJK - AC Oulu 1-2
Haka - PK-35 6-0
KTP - JIPPO 0-0
HIFK - FC Jazz 4-2
Highlights of Saturday's Ykkönen games