Monday 25 September 2023

FCI Levadia Tallinn - A La Coq Arena

FCI Levadia Tallinn 
A La Coq Arena
Jalgpalli 21
11312 Tallinn

Ground Number: 1228
Saturday 23rd September 2023
FCI Levadia Tallinn 4-0 FC Kuressaare


The club was established in 1998 in Maardu, around 16km or around 10 miles from Tallinn where they moved to in 2004. They replaced or took over Olump Maardu but effectively became a new club. In 2016, they merged with FC Infonet to become FCI Levadia Tallinn, with Infonet's reserve team becoming FCI Tallinn. For their first 14 years in the capital, they played at the Kadriorg Stadium, one of the oldest stadiums in Estonia and primarily an athletics venue. This was the home of the national team up until 2001. In 2019 they moved to the Lilleküla Stadium (or A La Coq Arena as it is known for for sponsorship purposes). This is the home of the Estonian National team and their rivals Flora Tallinn. Lilleküla Stadium is part of the Lilleküla Football Complex, which also includes two grass surface pitches and two artificial turf pitches of which one is the 1,198-seat Sportland Arena, and an indoor football hall named EJL Jalgpallihall.

On the field, they won the Estonian second tier, the Esiliiga in their first season of 1999. They've remained in the top tier ever since, winning the title on ten occasions. This is only second to Flora Tallinn who have won the title 14 times. Their lowest position came in 2014 when they finished 4th but still qualified for Europe. They've won the Estonian Cup ten times and the Supercup 14 times. Their most successful season in Europe came in the UEFA Cup of 2006. They defeated Finnish side Haka 2-1 on aggregate before a notable win over Dutch side Twente by the same scoreline in the qualifying rounds. Their run came to an end in the 1st Round proper as they lost 3-1 on aggregate to Newcastle United.


For my second, and final (for now) game in Estonia, I was off to the national stadium. I didn't know a huge amount about Estonian football when booking, but I'd heard of Levadia Tallinn. They had played Bala Town back in 2013 and possibly some other British teams in other seasons too. Both were relative minnows but Levadia had squeezed through. They had also played TNS back in the 1990s, though both teams were in the former guises and it was really Llansantffraid FC v Levadia Maardu. In Estonia, they were one of the biggest sides in the country. Despite this, tickets were only 5 Euros if purchased in advance. The process was really easy and I was able to buy tickets online and save them to my phone. This was probably the club and ground that I was looking forward to visiting most out of all of them this weekend.

From my first game at FC Tallinn, I decided to go to straight near the ground rather than in town. The rain had abated for now but the roads were all flooded. I didn't have far to walk to the sheltered tram stop then a few minutes till the 4 to Tondi came along. It was nice and easy to pay, just tap your card on the contactless point and that saved messing around with an app. It was a nice journey and I was able to watch Charlton Athletic v Wycombe Wanderers on my phone. Sadly the Chairboys trailed 1-0. I'd been recommended a restaurant by Derby fan Alex called Koido 82 Resto. This was 10 minutes walk from the tram stop and close to the stadium. I had a pint of Tanker cider, a new one on me and some king prawn noodles. All were great and it was nice not to have to resort to junk food for once. Wycombe equalised whilst I was in there, a great strike from Freddie Potts. But Charlton regained the lead just after I paid my bill which was very reasonable at £18 for a nice meal and a couple of pints of cider from a local brewery. The walk to the ground was under 10 minutes. The entry, ticket purchased beforehand was superb value at under £5. The merchandise less so, the same price got me a cardboard sign, had I not been on such a good mood after a couple of pints, I'd not have bothered. On reflection, I'd have put the extra in and got a scarf, oh well. Even Wycombe's 3-1 loss at Charlton could not dampen my mood.
FCI Levadia were leading the league on goal difference from rivals Flora. Kurassaare were in 7th. The hosts had been on OK form. They'd won 6-2 at Tartu Kalev in their last game and they'd also won 1-0 against Paide. They'd drawn 1-1 against Tallianna Kalev and  2-2 against Flora. They'd surprisingly lost 2-1 to tonight's visitors. As well as that win, Kuressare had also thumped Kose 9-1 in the cup. They'd drawn 1-1 against Tammekka but lost 3-1 at Vaprus and 4-1 at Nomme Kalju. Levadia had the better of the play and they took the lead on 20 minutes. A placed shot from Felipe Felicio gave the hosts the lead. Ioan Yokolev made it 2-0 on 27 minutes, cutting in before curling a shot into the back of the net. A pint and a hotdog at halftime, both pretty good. Then, in the second half, a couple of minutes in, a low shot by Mollo Bessala, though a different, maybe regional name was announced. On 58 minutes, a very quick goal on the break, with good pace shown by Mark Oliver Roosnup who slotted calmly past the keeper. The visitors were very poor and didn't have a shot at all. Their defence was not too bad though, organised so as to prevent it being a rout. Levadia smashed the bar just as full-time was being blown.
I decided to go for a couple before I headed back to my room. It was negligible whether using public transport was worth it but I decided to make use of it. A stop on the train was little more than a quid and saved me 15 minutes. I was at Koht bar by 10 and had my best drink of the weekend so far. Brut Jaanihanso 2015 Vintage was a beautiful dry cider, made using French methods. The bar had an insane range of obscure drinks and was rightly very busy. I then had a Corsendonk Dubbel Kriek, also nice. There were many more I could have tried but mindful of my lack of sleep I stuck to just one more. Sec Methode from Jaanihanso was not one that was easily findable, so I had that. Excellent it was too, though not as good as the first. It was then a half-hour walk back to the room with me getting back just before midnight. I fell asleep pretty quickly.

THE A LA COQ ARENA is in a mainly residential area on the edge of Tallinn. It's a smart arena with a steep rake for the seats. It holds just under 15,000. Only one stand was open for my visit. It was all friendly and relaxed, but concessions inside the stadium carry the usual 'captive audience' premium.  

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