Vieraskynäpalstalla kirjoittaa tällä kertaa Tampere Unitedia kaukaa Washingtonin osavaltiosta kannattava Timm Blakley, joka on myös seuran jäsen. Blakleyn ensisijainen rakkaus on Seattle Sounders, mutta Tampere United tulee vahvana kakkosena. Mutta miksi Timm kannattaa TamUa yli 7500 kilometrin päästä? Jos haluat kirjoittaaa vieraskynäpalstalle, ilmoita itsestäsi sähköpostilla osoitteeseen vieraskyna (ät) tampereunited.fi.
As someone who lives in Washington state (not to be confused with Washington DC), people here, and in Finland, often find it odd when I talk to them about my love for Tampere United. I’ve been following them for more than a decade, been a member of the club for almost as long, and have had the privilege of being to two matches in person.
Why would someone from 7,500 km away care about a club that, at the time I joined, was in the lowest division in Finnish football? It is far easier in the USA to follow a top tier English club, with every game televised and all the coverage in English. Even the top German league is very accessible for most people this side of the Atlantic. Why would I care about Tampere United? It is a fair question.
Around 2009 I met Antti who told me about his local team, Tampere United, which at the time were in the top division of Finnish football.
There is something else I should say at this point, I do have another football love, the Seattle Sounders, my local team. In comparison to the rest of the world, the Sounders are a young club having been founded in 1974. As far as football leagues go, the US top division is hardly the sexiest or most relevant league in the world and the Sounders have spent a good chunk of their existence in the second tier which is even less so.
What really made me fall in love with the Sounders was not the style of play or any star players. It was the connection to the region and the community I found in the club. As a supporter of a relatively new team in a rather obscure league but with a shared sense of community, I felt an affinity to Tampere United. Game recognizes game. Our clubs had gone through many of the same struggles. Both Tampere United and the Sounders had something magical that the rest of the world was missing out on.
Soon after I learned about the club, Tampere United went through their dark period. I don’t need to dredge up that time period as I’m sure the wounds have not fully healed, but I could only imagine the pain of having my club ripped away. A little while later I began to hear about TamU-K. As a fan of football, TamU-K was something I could fully support. When I heard about the rebirth of Tampere United I was all in. Here was a team built by the supporters and sustained through community. In 2012 (and to this day) Tampere United was the purest form of a football club, with the team and the supporters being inseparable. Tampere United is what every football club across the world should aspire to be.
Since that time it has been a wild ride following Tampere United. I’ve followed results from dirt pitches where the entire players and coaching staff were supporters. I’ve watched games late at night/early in the morning hunched over my computer not understanding a word of the commentary and only a vague idea of how much time is left in the game. I’ve seen promotions and a relegation. I remember Tampere United missing promotion through a shoot out. I’ve been in the stands with my fellow TamU supporters in Tampere and on a bus as we drank beers and I listened to stories of shenanigans on previous away games. I have google translated far too many articles that when translated to English only sort of make sense. I have even hosted a party for a delegation of Tampere United supporters at my house in Seattle and went to a Sounders game with them.
In all those times, what I have found is the same sense of community in TamU as I have found in my beloved Sounders. When all is said and done, it is our shared experience and our community that brings us together as a club. Sounders legend and current Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer puts it best when he said: ”The club is the players and their relationship to the fans – that’s the club. We all work for that relationship. The players all do their jobs on the field, the fans support the team… The relationship the team has with its fans. That’s what the club is.”
It is that simple.
Aina Tampere – Ikuisesti United