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Blog: In The Papers But Missing The Dark

6 July 2013

Father and son Paul and Harry Mace are flying the Magpies flag on tour with Notts.

In their second report, they tell us about making the Finnish newspapers and how 24-hour daylight can cause havoc for your sleep patterns...

One of the reasons I always have a soft spot for pre-season friendlies is that the result is invariably a complete irrelevance. It’s a chance to see new players for the first time, new surroundings and an entirely relaxed atmosphere.

Kemi certainly ticks all the boxes. A picturesque coastal town where the Magpies’ training base and venue for their opening game is less than 100 yards from the sea.

And, thanks to club multimedia editor Dane Vincent, Mace senior and junior have already been paraded in front of the Finnish media for making the journey from England. Mad dogs (no slight on Martin Allen intended) and Notts County fans is the general gist of the article.

I do my best to weave in the Notts County mantra – oldest League club in the world, Juventus only wear black and white striped shirts because of us, we battered Barcelona in the early 1900s on their own turf, and, no, never heard of Nottingham Forest.

I suspect the journalist still thinks we are completely mad. All this takes place during the warm-up of Notts’ opening fixture of the tour against Kemi Kings.

Hardly finished the interview before Dean Leacock puts us one up inside a minute.

Hearing our English accent, a young man comes over and tells us he’s from Doncaster, he now lives in nearby Oulu (well 70 miles away), and his grannie is a mad-keen Notts fan.

Oh, and before the game, four parachutists land with the matchball, and the journalist tells us that Aki Lahtinen is guest of honour. Aki, for the uninitiated, appeared for Notts in the top flight in the eighties.  

A centre half, he possessed a fearsome long throw and was a very popular player.  Have to ensure he gets an invite to the Notts County Former Players Association Dinner next year.

The Kemi public has certainly turned out in force for tonight. It was 12 Euros to get in – unless you wanted to come in through the pine forest at one end of the ground.

A programme was included – don’t normally keep them, but suspect this one might have a decent value from a Notts perspective.

An unusual range of refreshments are available. No Pukka Pies here. Hot dogs are sold without the roll, ie a naked frankfurter.

Pancakes with cream and jam are a popular choice – two of them for junior at half time.

Kemi Kings, we’re told, have an American striker with 40 goals in 40 games. He doesn’t come out after half time.

Which is much better that the hapless Kemi keeper who went down with a shoulder injury in the warm-up – only for his replacement to pick the ball out of the net inside 60 seconds when Dean Leacock opened the Magpies goal account for the ’13.14 season.

A comfortable 3-1 win and a very convivial evening. Very pleasant too to be able to take a 15-minute stroll back to our hotel from the stadium.

Now all this 24-hour daylight is well and good.  But it does play havoc with your sleep patterns – especially with the shortage of curtain fabric in our room.

No matter how you arrange the curtains, they will only cover three quarters of the windows.  The result is that light streams in to your room throughout the whole of the night.

Oh, and the Finns really like their saunas. Indeed, we have our own personal little sauna as an annex to our bathroom in our room.

A word here too on the co-operation and support offered by the Notts management team and all the players.

If you’re going on a tour, do it properly and take in training too. So, each day we’ve been made to feel most welcome by Chris Kiwomya, Mick Jones, Andy Watson and Kevin Pilkington.

The players too have all been very approachable and supportive – but like the Finnish journalist probably think that we are completely mad.

Kemi is very picturesque but it’s not always the liveliest. Indeed, in the evening it does resemble something of a ghost town.

Not on Friday night, however. The high street is taken over by a live band, an impromptu square is created and hundreds of people congregate.

As the band pipes up, people go on stage to dance. All very quaint and apparently a local Finnish custom. I may be showing my age here, but I don’t remember Madison’s being like this in the eighties!

Look out for Paul’s next entry on the official site tomorrow, where he will dip into more of his experiences following the Magpies on tour. 

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