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Blog: Another Pie In Finland

12 July 2013

Final blog entry from the County fans that joined us in Finland - Paul and Harry Mace...

After savouring the delights of Kemi for six days, it was finally time to head south. About 400 miles south to be precise.
While the Notts team headed off by coach, we made the short walk to Kemi railway station for the 16.24 Pendolino train headed for Helsinki. Our journey was scheduled to take five and a half hours to our overnight destination of Tampere.
And, all in all, it was a pretty good journey. The wi-fi worked throughout on the train and the restaurant car was pretty good too.
Still, we felt a little weary trooping into the Holiday Inn in Tampere around 10pm. I went for a walk around the town - the sun still burning bright of course.
At least the curtains here were of thicker material than Kemi so we actually saw some proper darkness for the first time in six days. So much so, that neither of us woke up till gone 9am.
And so the final game of the tour - JJK are a Premier League team (albeit they are sitting bottom) based in Jyväskylä which was about a 90-minute train ride away.
We made our way to the team hotel and caught up with chief executive Jim Rodwell who had flown in for the match. After a pleasant couple of hours, we made the short walk to the ground.
Again, it was a typical Scandanavian sports stadium with a football pitch inside an athletics track but there was a surprise - another Notts fan. And his journey here certainly put ours to shame.  

He arrived via Latvia, a ferry crossing to Helsinki, and a train for the final leg. Followed by a return leg taking over two weeks via St Petersburg, Moscow, the trans- siberian railway to China, and a plane home via Vancouver!
Throughout our journey, we have been offered fantastic co-operation by everyone involved in the Notts County travelling party - mangaement, coaching staff, players and multimedia editor Dane Vincent.
And it was a really great gesture by the club when we were told that manager Chris Kiwomya was going to make a special pitchside presentation to us before the game. On cue, Chris came over and presented a signed match-worn Notts shirt to Harry which I am sure will take pride of place back home.
90 minutes later - another win - and after saying our goodbyes we had to cut a dash to the station to get the last train back to Tampere.
Now our route back pales alongside the trans-siberian exit of our fellow Notts travelling fan, but we had happened across an Air Baltic flight to Riga, and a Ryanair route from Riga to East Midlands airport which got us back for lunchtime the following day.
Writing this final blog, I guess it was always going to be something of a venture into the unknown, trekking across Finland for eight days taking in three matches and countless training sessions. But it genuinely has been a great experience and will live long in the memory.
Thanks for bearing with us ... and we look forward to seeing you all down the Lane  (Bramall variety on Friday 2 August, and Meadow for the rest of the season).

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