Get to know the four hosts of the Finnish Football Show, in their own words.
Mark Hayton @FCSuomi
Born in England now half Finnish, or double depending on your perspective. I’ve been going to Huuhkajat and Veikkausliiga games since I landed here back in 2004. I don’t have a Veikkausliiga side, though I’ve always had a soft spot for Inter Turku. First Finland game was a 3-1 win over Armenia at the Olympiastadion, Shefki Kuqi bagged a brace.
I set up FCSuomi with some friends back in 2014, the main reason was in 2013 Finland played Slovenia in August and struggled to sell seats at the Veritas, about 5,000 turned up. Then a month later at the Olympiastadion 38,000 turned up to watch us lose to Spain. A couple of us worked out that about 33,000 would have no idea where Mikko Sumusalo or Erfan Zeneli were playing (at the time Maccabi Petah Tikvah), so decided to start spreading the word. Five years later it was time to join forces with the guys from the Finnish Football Show to try and keep fans informed.
My great debt to Finnish football is that Suomi can be a bit of a tough nut to crack, both personally and linguistically. The Huuhkajat can be a great way for immigrants to get to know the country and the culture. I’ve watched games all over Finland at multiple levels, traveled to see the team as far as Dubai and have so far missed three goals in the last 15 years necking my half time pint… also… I’m pretty sure I invented the term #Rivelution… look it up or listen here (min 32:56).
Mark Wiltshear @explorefinland
I’m originally from London and now live in Seinäjoki, as an escapee from Brexit Britain, with my wife, Satu, our collection of teenagers and Boris the Dog. In 2014, I started the Explore Finland Radio Show podcast, because I feel Finland just does not sell itself overseas, and I’ve never understood why. I wanted to encourage people to learn what makes Finland different; nature, outdoor activity, a different culture, seasons that actually change. This led Mark H and Rich to approach me in 2015 about starting the Finnish Football Show.
I’ve been a fan of Wimbledon FC and AFC Wimbledon since I was a kid. I miss attending their games, but to feed the addiction I’ve become a regular at home games of SJK Seinäjoki. You’ll find me at most home games, behind the goal making a noise with SJK’s 12th man, the Klopit supporters group. This has been an invaluable way for me to meet people and feel part of the local community. One of my networks in Seinäjoki is definitely those I’ve met on the Klopit terrace.
This is my angle on Finnish football. Until we started recording FFS, I didn’t follow what was going on outside of Seinäjoki. On the live show, I play the role of clueless host asking questions of my more knowledgeable co-hosts – playing this role is not much of an act(!) – I hope that I can help the listeners learn as I learn.
Outside of podcastland, I am a business owner in Seinäjoki, as a co-founder of Xport, which exists to help Finnish companies become more international and to find new customers overseas. More recently, I have also started my own toiminimi (sole trader company) Mark Wiltshear TMI so I can take-on work that sits outside of Xport’s remit.
Rich Nelson @EscapeToSuomi
My first visit to Finland was in 2008 with the now Mrs Nelson, my first game was KuPS v Honka (She’s from Kuopio). I found at the time it was pretty difficult to keep up with what was happening beyond scores unless you read Finnish, so in 2012 I started Escape To Suomi to find out more and hopefully help out others in a similar boat. It turned out it was mostly gamblers…
Life has changed in the eight years since (kids, work mainly), but it has allowed me to do a lot of fun things, having more mates in Finland that my wife does, an excuse to get many of the weird and wonderful kits and having one of those hobbies that people think is weird. ETS has sponsored two lower division clubs, Atletico Malmi in 2015 and Ruisku in 2018.
My first Finland game was Belarus at home in 2013, and my record for matches in one trip was six in two weeks (2015).
Keith Miller @kekemyllari
Born and raised in London, England. I became interested in Finnish football back in 2004 when I first met my Finnish wife. We would travel to Jyväskylä often and I soon became a regular at JJK games. We would watch the national team on TV whenever they played and I attended my first Huuhkajat match back in 2013, an away friendly against Wales in Cardiff. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Riku Riski grabbing the late equaliser.
I have been a regular contributor to the Stand AMF fanzine writing many articles on fan culture and I was delighted to be invited to be a member of the Finnish Football Show team back in 2017, having been an avid listener since it’s inception.
I had been a West Ham United season ticket holder for 25 years but the clubs move to the London Stadium and my overall disillusionment with premier league football meant I gave up going to West Ham games and this allowed me to devote much more time and money to Finland games.
I have met some amazing people travelling across Europe from Iceland to Bosnia to various away games with Finland and I have made some life long friends. This culminated in my attending my first ever home game last November to see the Huuhkajat qualify for their first ever major tournament. Viva La Rivelution