Finland AFL Grand Final
Turku Dockers v Helsinki Heatseekers
14/09/2019 Vaasa 3:30pm
In a promising year for AFL in Finland, the 2019 season has been the most successful and competitive to date, all coming down to one game this weekend.
In this nine a side competition, the Turku Dockers are up against the Helsinki Heatseekers, to determine the top team of Finland for 2019.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Australian football in Turku, the Dockers are looking to top it off with a historic premiership victory this weekend.
Back in their very first season, the Dockers won the Grand Final over the Heatseekers and are looking to do the same again.
After a tough start losing their first two games for the year, the Dockers bounced back, progressing with a bunch of new players.
With changed tactics and time to gel as a team they ended the season with three wins in their last four outings and come into the Grand Final in some red hot form.
It has been a tough few years for this Turku side, who have struggled to win games, but with persistence and an urge to improve as a club they are now a team that can beat any opposition they face when playing their best footy.
Finding what works for your team and a sense of mateship is important in any sporting environment and Turku feel like they have a great balance of these qualities.
“We have a team approach where every player does their job, whether that’s winning the ball out of the contest, working hard to make space for others, or playing a defensive role on an opposition player. We are good friends off the field and enjoy playing together on the field, which makes it easy to want to run that little bit harder,” said Docker Stephen Phillips.
This match involves many of Finland’s top players who have represented their country on multiple occasions, creating some high quality footy on display for the local crowd .
Three of these national team players are playing for Turku this weekend and are definitely ones to look out for with their skilful game style.
“Jussi Mutila has been leading the backline by example, playing hard on his man then using his smarts to set up rebound attacks, Alix Kalliojärvi has been dominant in the centre, winning plenty of taps as an undersized ruck and then playing as an extra midfielder, and Rami Raivio has become a very dangerous attacking midfielder in just his first year of footy, picking up the FAFL’s Most Improved award at the end of the regular season,” said Stephen.
With new recruits and tactics to start the 2019 season, the Helsinki Heatseekers got off to a flyer with some emphatic wins.
As the season progressed the games became closer, giving a reality check to Helsinki, as they realised just how competitive this league is now.
The Heatseekers being of the most successful teams in recent Finland AFL history, are looking to use their experience in some big games of the past to go back to back premiers this year.
“Securing a spot in the Grand Final was one of our objectives this season, I think the game means a lot to all of us as we want to keep the FAFL Cup here in Helsinki and continue the journey that we started in 2014,” said Helsinki’s Alban Schieber.
This Helsinki side has a wealth of experience, involving players who have played the game for over 20 years, these players could be the difference in a close match and will be much needed in the pressure this weekend of playing in a Grand Final.
Priding themselves on the ability to move the ball cleanly, the Heatseekers ball skills have led them to success and will be exciting to watch on the weekend.
“We are fairly good when we keep possession of the ball and have the chance to use our experienced players, we will try to keep the ball of the ground as much as possible and work around using clean kicks and marks,” said Schieber.
One player to watch out for is their international Danish recruit Mogens Hansen. With his great leaping ability in the ruck and attacking nature in the midfield, he creates quick clearances and sets up Helsinki’s goals on countless occasions.
With Hansen fired up in the ruck and experience scattered across the ground for Helsinki, expect them to apply some scoreboard pressure on the Dockers and make for a thrilling match up.
With some injuries throughout the season for both sides, the Dockers and Heatseekers have recruited well and used game plans that work well for their personnel, getting them to this point.
The Heatseekers got the edge in a close game over the Dockers in their last outing, but with a lot of pride on the line in this Grand Final expect a game that could see the result go either way and right down to the wire.
Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!
Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.
Liam McAllion – AFL Europe