12.12.2008 klo 12:38
The 2008 season of the Maple League has come to its end. The Porvoo Butchers had the privilege of celebrating their fourth championship in a row, while the Trojans came sixth in the Maple League standings. Manager Kim Gronlund admits he has a bitter taste in his mouth. He goes on to say that the team had the potential to do a lot better, but nobody could anticipate so many injuries and absences. The team was motivated and training hard in the winter but something happened in the spring time. Gronlund will get to the bottom of the matter together with the coaching staff.
Gronlund is not able to name any single reason for the team performing below expectations. Difficulties in the beginning of the season and the games lost with such a small point margin put a lot of pressure on the relatively young players. Head coach Jarmo Rautiainen mostly agrees with Gronlund. QB Jayson Davis getting injured and the team losing games in the beginning of the season was a tough blow on morale. The team could practice everyone together only once a week from the end of June onwards, which is not nearly enough.
Manager Kim Gronlund and head coach Jarmo Rautiainen.
The adversities our American players experienced did not help out either. Not only Jayson Davis but also Malaki Lesa was injured. Malaki hurt himself in his first game and was unable to practice with the rest of the team. Johnell Wyatte played a very good season, though.
Kim Gronlund is eager to remind us that victory was not the only objective this season. The Trojans wanted to give young players enough playing time to make sure there are competitive and experienced players in the future to replace retirees. The manager gives praise to the Trojan youth program: “Our program is one of the best in the country; we chew young boys and spit out football players”. He mentions Danny Andersson, a young QB that has shown great promise, as one of those who have benefited from the extra time onfield.
Defense Got It Done But the Offense Did Not
The Trojan defense was elite although the offense could not keep up with the top teams in the league. Rautiainen has an explanation ready. “Defense is always easier to play than offense. Offense takes a lot more practice and repetition, particularly for the offensive line”, says the head coach and brings back some words of wisdom he spoke prior to the season: “Anyone can run against the air and do it right, but training as a full team is entirely different”. Gronlund agrees on the team not having enough practice: “We made way too many mistakes and, ultimately, it all goes down to lack of practice”.
The number of American players in a team was three this year as opposed to the league’s two-player policy of the previous seasons. The policy change had a drastic effect on the game as offenses became substantially more effective than defenses. Neither Gronlund nor Rautiainen is happy about games with more than one hundred points scored altogether. They would both prefer the two-player limit but admit that there’s not much to do about North American players with EU passports.
The Roosters and the Wolverines have already announced extending the contracts of their most successful American players. Robert Johnson is even planning train all winter with his team instead of returning home. Kim Gronlund would be happy about getting his American players here earlier than before, but he doubts it would change things all that much.
A Good Crowd at the Upper Field
The Trojans played some good home games and beat the Roosters and the Crocodiles that were valued better than the home team. The fans would not abandon their team in the face of adversities either. More than 200 season passes were sold and hundreds more turned out at the games. “I loved watching the home games. The team looked good, the new field was awesome, and the weather was on our side too”, says Gronlund. The one thing he does not approve of is that people would choose music over football. The fans were fewer than expected during RuisRock, a traditional weekend-long rock festival in Turku that draws audiences from all over the country.
There were a lot of new faces in the crowd in addition to the old diehard Trojans fans. “The Trojans were number one in the country in spectator turnout”, says manager Gronlund with a sense of pride. But there is still room on the bleachers and the management continues to work hard for better turnouts. Kim Gronlund only wishes cooperation between teams would be easier. This season there was too much friction in negotiating the schedules.
Continuing Work for a Better Experience
The Trojans’ home field has undergone renovations. A new artificial turf was installed before the last season, and now there’s a new lighting system. The latter will allow night games to be played in the late summer. Monday night football games have attracted twice the amount of spectators weekend games have, and those are something we will enjoy next season as well (translator’s note: A great number of Finns spend their weekends at summer houses away from the city during the local football season).
The management will tackle the issues with concessions too. The lines to the concessions stands have been way too long during halftime, but there will be new arrangements. They are looking at a possible beer license and new ideas for halftime entertainment in addition to expanded concessions capacity.
Sponsorship a Boon to the Trojans
Milwaukee Electric Tools and Laakeriteam sponsored the Trojans by paying every single admission into one game. The biggest crowd of the third millennium, estimated at more than 800, showed up at the Upper Field. Kim Gronlund believes that football will increasingly benefit from sponsored games in the future. He reveals that similar deals are already made for the next season and that we are expecting even bigger crowds at the games.
The problem is that Finland is a soccer and ice hockey country with football being a marginal sport, albeit it’s one of the most popular marginal team sports. Promoting your own team consequently equals promoting the sport in general. The sponsors organize all sorts of activities and entertainment for the occasion that should attract potential fans to give football a chance.
Manager Kim Gronlund was asked about his view to the current sponsorship situation. To nobody’s surprise, he would welcome more sponsors. “The thing with sponsorship is that it can never be too good. I would say the present situation warrants high hopes, though”. Gronlund is eager to make longer-lasting deals with companies instead of one-season contracts. There were a number of new contracts last season and more are being negotiated. “A lot of new stuff is underway right now, both for the sponsor and for the spectator. I only wish there were more hours to a day”, reflects the manager.
Kim Gronlund wants to send out a message to all corporate readers:
Sponsoring the Trojans will give you a lot of presence. Your name can appear in the team uniform, in several places at the venue, in the sideline advertisements, in the program handouts, in newsletters, and on our popular website. Please let us know what kind of cooperation would suit your company the best, and a team representative will contact you.