Globe Blogs of Football – Escape to Suomi

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.

Part 1, with Bundesliga Fanatic, can be found here.

Part 2 with Scottish Soccer Show, can be found here.

Part 3 with Caribbean Football, can be found here.

The latest Q & A is with Escape to Suomi, who are also on Twitter.

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.

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My Debut Season on Twitter

Before the World Cup kicks off in Brazil I want to share My Debut Season on Twitter, a review of the football year that has just been. I initially joined the social media site in August 2013 before setting up my blog with its own Twitter account in November. Prior to joining, most of the football news in the media which came via Twitter was from footballers saying something stupid or controversial, but the thought of following players didn’t really appeal to me. From my point of view if it was a big enough story I would find it through other sources. Twitter had been recommended to me for a way to find like-minded people with similar interest. However when I joined I didn’t know what to expect.

I began by following those accounts which I was already familiar with such, as FourFourTwo (@FourFourTwo), their brilliant Stats Zone (@StatsZone), Michael Cox (@zonalmarking) and Opta (@OptaJoe). I quickly discovered a host of superb football websites such as Squawka Football (@Squawka), IBWM (@inbedwimaradona), A Football Report (@afootballreport), B/R Football (@br_football), Think Football (@Think_Football) and ESPN FC (@ESPNFC). These well-established sites offer fantastic stories & reports from across the football world. One feature of Twitter which I was sceptical of, but thought was interesting, was being able to interact with people you wouldn’t usually be able to, such as Paul Watson (@paul_c_watson), author of the incredible Up Pohnpei, which I would thoroughly recommend, and have done a number of times on Twitter. By following Paul on Twitter I was able to find out about the latest on the team in the book as well as let him know how much I enjoyed his book.

Through Twitter, I joined the Prediction League via You Know The Score (@predicthefootie), making my way up League 4 before gaining promotion and finish the season as League 3 Champion. For anyone who likes guessing the outcome of the weekend’s Premier League fixture it is a simple way to pit your wits against others. I hope to be competing with as many of you as possible next season. As well as finishing the season as League 3 champion I also picked up other silverware thanks to Twitter competitions, in the form of Issue 3 of The Football Pink (@TheFootballPink) and, via Of Pitch + Page (@OfPitchandPage), The Boy in Brazil by Seth Burkett (@burkett86).
As I continued the Twitter season I was on the voting panel (anyone can vote) for the Football Blogging Awards (@TheFBAs), unfortunately none of my initial selections won but it was another great way to discover more football writers. By reading more content it persuaded me to write myself. Two of the articles which directly gave me the inspiration and confidence to were Football Charlie (@Footballcharlie), Blogging: it still matters and putnielsingoal (@putnielsingoal) Twelve ways to be better. For aspiring writers Twitter is a great way to get your thoughts and opinions out there. A number of sites accept articles for submission. My first article was picked up and published by The 4th Official (@_4thOfficial) and The False Nine (@The_False_Nine). Other sites that have been kind enough to offer a platform to me have been Sportsbant.com (@sportsbant), Natter Football (@NatterFootball), MatchDay App (@MatchDayApp) and iLovethissport.com (@Lovethissport). The latter also reviews and rates articles, which I have found invaluable to improving my writing. Anyone thinking about writing or getting their voice to a wider audience should use these sites for the fantastic support they offer.

Having seen my first to article published I decided to set up my own blog. Even though I was getting my work out there via other sites I thought it was the best way to share my thoughts with as many people as possible. Having already been on Twitter since August I had got to know some wonderful football bloggers and websites. When I started promoting the new blog I was humbled by the support of these people. All the comments and feedback on all the articles have made the hard work all worthwhile. I have also enjoyed reading and sharing other people’s writing and hopefully also getting their work to a wider audience.

To recap this season, I have written about Joe Hart’s problems at Manchester City and how he could take inspiration from Wojciech Szczęsny, reminisced on My First World Cup Memories, ranked the Premier League owners (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4), compared the similarities of Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, hailed ex-Reading skipper Jobi McAnuff, explored who the neutral was rooting for in the title race and analysed whether Van Gaal would fit in with the class of 92. Some of the articles have been easier to write than others, especially with the amount of research some subjects require but I hope everyone has enjoyed my offerings. I have thorough enjoyed my debut season on Twitter and to avoid the dreaded second season syndrome I already have ideas for next year and hope you will continue to read.

There are so many people to thank for their help supporting the blog, as well as those who I have already mentioned, if you don’t follow them already I suggest you do immediately:-

Football Pink (@TheFootballPink) – brilliant monthly magazine covering almost every aspect of football, as well as regular articles on the website.

Putnielsingoal (@Putnielsingoal) – a true football hipster, already mentioned once but he’s that good

Christopher Lash (@rightbankwarsaw) – blogging on Polish football, past and present, and a Reading fan.

The Footy Guy (@_FootyGuy) – one of the most entertaining, and genuinely amusing bloggers.

Pete Spencer (@irishpete67) – Liverpool fan, writing on the historical events in football, whose recent World Cup stories are most insightful.

John Townsend (@jontownsend3) – another Liverpool fan, writes about his club and new coaching methods among other things for the brilliant These Football Times (@thesefootytimes)

Rob Canavan (@whitesfan) – member of excellent The Final Third (@TheFinal_Third) podcast

Proven Quality (@provenquality) – as the name suggests a regular source of quality football writing

Laura Jones (@YICETOR) – former FBA finalist; her very personal account of the Hillsborough disaster is probably one of the best articles I’ve read this year