Match report – Finland v Norway

Match report
Finland v Norway
17 July 2010, Salo, Finland

I’m on a plane to France and have time to kill, so here comes a super super comprehensive match report on our magnificent win in Finland (read on after the slideshow…).

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Growing a foreign game in a small, inward-focussed market like Norway is not easy. With no support from government, no money, no awareness, no proper facilities and no full or even part time resources, football relies on the time, money and commitment of a small group of people who really believe in it and want it to survive, succeed and prosper.

There will always be times when things aren’t going great and the people putting in this effort wonder if it is worth all the trouble.

Games like the Finland game are emphatic proof that it IS worth all of the effort, and that there really is nothing like the great game of Australian football.

It wasn’t the most gloriously skilful game. It was simply hard work, commitment and hanging in the contest until things turned our way. Let’s not fool ourselves, Finland led for most of that match and would count themselves unlucky to have lost.

They would also take much heart from being able to nearly beat a team with so many Australians in it. All I can say is that on that level they are clearly ahead of us – but I can’t wait for the day that Norway can field a strong team without any Australians that competes and wins international matches. Imagine the Norwegian guys having a footy trip all the way to Australia to play in the international cup in 2012.

But back to the game. It always amazes me just how different a game situation is from what we do at training. There really is no substitute for practice matches, and we should definitely do this more.

The intensity and pace of the game were high – those Finns were big boys who liked to tackle – more than they liked to pick up the ball! We all did a great job focussing on the footy and getting to the ball first. Possessing the ball and using it properly is just so important.

The midfield worked well. Sam did a great job in the ruck, as did everyone else who had a go in there (including Tobias!). I thought we actually got better in the midfield as the game went on. It was good to see we had the fitness to run out that game in such extreme heat.

In the backline we were solid but definitely need some practice on manning up. It is easy to get a little bit lost when there are 16 or 18 guys running around, and we were lucky the Finns didn’t punish us for some loose checking on their forwards.

Back play should not be complicated. Work out the match ups, go to your man, then always be aware of where he is. If you’re good enough, run off him a little bit when you can. The last quarter was the highlight here just as with the midfield. When the game was really tight and we needed to get some stops and clear the ball, we passed the test. Had we not, we so easily could have lost the game.

The forwards were good in patches, but again, lacked the consistency that comes from playing regularly together. I thought the guys presented well across half forward and we looked good when we kicked long looking for a tall target like Sam.

Here are my player notes from the game. Personal opinion only of course. I may have missed some guys – please tell me if I have.

Brightbard – Really good game. Hard at the footy, hard at the man, and did not take a backward step. Has very nice skills. Added a lot to the midfield in the last quarter. Top work

Kurt – Solid at full back. Showed them he wasn’t going to be pushed around (by putting a guy in a headlock!), and kept their full forward very quiet. Good game by the man who founded this team all those years ago.

Justin (Finn) – Handy, but probably could have played a little better considering he is tall, mobile and Australian. Still, it was great to have him help us out.

Vince – Tried hard and did some really good things for his first large-scale game. His strength and ability to run with the ball are a big asset, and he is learning how to kick on the run too. Opponents are headed for some pain when he puts it all together. Things to work on for next game = 1 picking the ball up instead of kicking it off the ground 2 knowing when to get rid of the ball 3 being more accountable for his opponent

Stoney – Held the two rotating centre half forwards goalless and stopped them from having much of an impact. Took a few good marks but could have kicked the ball a little better. Will hopefully be fitter for the next game!

Trevor – A FANTASTIC example of how to go after the ball and put your body into the contest. Every time he had to go for the ball, he did it with total commitment. Tackled hard and used the ball pretty well when we had it. Let’s hope the injured knee heals up well.

Adam – As I said last year, he is a Rolls Royce of a footballer. Simply a class above the rest. Played a huge last quarter when the game needed to be won. Always wins the disputed ball, even if outnumbered. Great effort, again.

Sam – Extremely valuable late addition to the team. Rucked really well against a guy who was tall, athletic and a pretty decent ruckman. Kicked two goals. Played with huge courage – not too many guys come back on after dislocating a shoulder.

Tobias- Is turning into a real footballer. Knows how to get the ball, is not afraid of body contact, and understands how to read the play and get into the right places. Will be a star if he keeps improving at this rate. Things to work on for next game – 1 get to more contests, 2 use the ball as effectively as possible 3 push forward and kick goals if the chance is there

Roxby – Excellent, hard working, skilful game from the most talkative player on the ground. A great example for the Norwegian guys on how to demand the footy, how to play on when the time is right and how to go in and get the ball at ground level. Used his long kicking to great advantage. His talk on the field is great, but could have been more positive with teammates in the first quarter

Damo – An old fashioned pro. He simply knows how to play the game. Leads really well into space. Marks well on the lead and has a lovely kick. Was an important target all day, and deserved a goal as reward for that effort

Adam O’Toole – Excellent game from a very important player. Not only is he strong overhead and a great marking target, he can run with the ball and kick long and accurately while running at full pace. One of the only usable bits of video from the game shows him doing exactly this.

Arne – A great example that you can compete with and beat guys who are younger and perhaps fitter than you if you play football the right way. Did exactly what was asked of him, was accountable for his man (which is so important as a defender) and importantly, he also won his own ball a few times. Stood tall in the desperate last few minutes. Well done. Things to work on for next game 1 executing skills quickly and when under pressure

Kristian – Can proudly say he contributed to a great win for his country. Will turn into a good footballer. Found it a little difficult early on to impose himself on the contest, but got better as the game went on. Has a good ability to get away from his defender and find space. Can definitely read the game and get into the right spots. Kicked a crucial point (that next time will be a goal ☺). Things to work on for next game – 1 demanding the football when he is in space 2 getting to more contests 3 contested marking in game situations

Nicko – The victim of some dubious holding and pushing techniques from the Finnish defenders, which made it hard for him to take his trademark pack marks. Did a great job creating a contest and keeping the ball in the forward line. Hopefully next game his ankle will be healed, strapped, and ready for another banana goal like the one in Goteborg.

Jarle – drifted in and out of the game early, but another player who stood up when it was time to dig in and fight off those last few desperate challenges from the Finns. Played a good last quarter and has now played in two wins for Norway. Things to work on for next game 1 getting more of the footy 2 getting to training 😉

Furlan (Finn) – fearless Spanish player. Hit a few early contests incredibly hard, it actually helped show the Finns we were going to be going hard at the ball.

Lasse (Finn) – Was the lightest guy on the ground by about 10 kilos and young enough to be Adam’s son. Tried hard to do everything that was asked of him. Good effort to compete against the big boys.

Spiros (Finn) – did a few good things, and was a welcome addition.
Matt – coached well. Had the right guys in the right places at the right times.

Anette – did a great job. Was kept very busy by the extreme heat and the numerous injuries.
In summary it was a bloody tough effort to hang in there and overcome a strong, tough and professional team like that in such difficult conditions. Everyone should be really proud of their effort. We did Norway proud and it’s up to us to bring more people in so we can become even better.

Finland is off to the 16 a side European championship next month. I want Norway to be there one day.

Something to consider for later in the year is the EU Cup in Milan (in October I think). It is only 9 a side and there are other developing/smaller countries like us playing. If we get commitment from enough Norwegians we CAN compete in this.

We have a rematch with Goteborg to look forward to. It’s a chance to exact some revenge on a good footy team, but one we are capable of playing if we have our best team on the park and play with the effort we did against the Finns.

Enjoy the two weeks off from training. Make sure you keep some sort of fitness work up so you are in shape for training and for the Goteborg game.

Thanks again to everyone who helped organize the weekend, to the WAGs, supporters and volunteers. It was a tough win that I hope you enjoyed as much as I did.


Quarter by quarter score:
Finland: 1.3.9 2.5.11 3.9.27 4.10.34
Norway: 0.0.0 2.3.9 3.5.23 4.12 36

Finland: Timosarri, Kupila, Saarinen, Leino
Norway: Clark 2, O’Toole, Jansen

Finland: Saarinen, Kupila, Leon, Byrne, Koivinen
Norway: Pearce, O`Toole, Roxby, Neil, Brightbard, Clark


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