In a new feature on the site is a collection of interviews with various websites which cover football in specific areas of the world. Hopefully this will give an insight into the work of people who share their knowledge of the game.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself/the team/contributors?
My name is Rich Nelson, I’m 34 years old and based in South West London. I have a full time job, and have no aspirations to be a journalist, so it’s just me doing the blog. I do get a lot of help from both family members in Finland and some people I’ve met through doing the site. So far I’ve only had a couple of guest articles, but would like that to grow. I’d love to do more myself, but it’s just finding the time.
2. How did you first get interested in football from the region you cover?
When I first started visiting Finland with my wife (who is Finnish), I saw a couple of games and enjoyed it as an alternative to the English team I support. While perhaps football isn’t quite the dominant sport as it is here, there are still groups of fans who are just as committed to their support and improving the atmosphere.
3. What inspired you to start your site?
Whenever I came home from Finland, I’d find it nigh on impossible to keep up with what was going on, bar the results. Plus I’d done some football writing previously, and quite fancied doing my own thing with a proper purpose other than general stuff.
4. What is the purpose of your site?
Mainly to provide an outlet for people to get into Finnish football in English and create a bit more of a community. It’s evolved since it started, where I started with specific topics and match reports. Now I don’t have as much time to write reports or long-winded updates. Mine is the only English site allowed to show the official highlights, so I showcase those. If a large event occurs, like a high-profile transfer or important international match, I’ll still do a proper blog for it.
5. Summarise your site in your own words.
Highlights of games, the latest news, nostalgia and a look at the more surreal incidents that happen. Just a fan, I’m not an expert! Probably a bit too much Jari Litmanen content…
6. How long has the site been running?
I started in summer 2012 when work was a bit less time-consuming…
7. How has the site grown since you started?
I’ve got quite a few followers on Twitter and it seems to be the most prolific outlet, although I do have a Facebook and Instagram page too. I’m probably not as good at plugging the site as other people; I don’t have the time or patience to go nagging people for retweets or endorsements. I do get a lot of feedback, which has become more common with the increase in readers and followers.
8. What has been the most popular article/feature on the site?
I visited Helsinki last summer to watch Arsenal v Manchester City, and the before and after articles on that game were huge. Also a response to a Guardian podcast mentioning Sami Hyypiä’s wife has been very popular, although that’s because there are photos of her in it and she’s very attractive…
9. How do you keep up to date with the region you cover?
I follow a lot of different people on social media and online, from journalists and the official organisations to fans and supporter groups. Some of Mrs ETS’s family members have been invaluable; I often get a text from them when something happens! My wife also helps a lot with translation of articles and TV programmes. Some of the matches are streamed online which helps as well. I try to go to Finland at least once a year, although that varies with work commitments.
10. What advice would you give to other football writers/bloggers?
Be passionate about what you do. There are a million blogs out there, a lot of them are either cut-and-paste merchants or think that it’s easy to see a gap in the market and blag it. Note how many people suddenly become experts on lower-profile nations during World Cups for example. Don’t get caught up in how many readers or followers you have – if your site is interesting, that’s the important bit.