www.sips.com.ur is the official website of Sikkivukarin Palloseura, also called SiPS, which is widely regarded as Uralica's best football (soccer) club.
Who Is SiPS' All-Time Best Player? The Fans Have Their Say
So this is it. Recently, the fans had the opportunity to vote on whom they thought was their team's best all-time player. After four Liga Mundo seasons and two Bolakliiga seasons, the fans had a lot of football on which to base their voting. Here was who they picked:
GK Sasja Rodionov
LB Jarkko Salomäki
RB Petteri Vahalahti
CB Janne Hitonen
CB Riku Palander
LM Hessu Öörni
RM Aleksi Salomäki
CM Raimo Suominen
AM Jukka Tenhola
ST Pauli Vauhko
ST Joni Rasimus
Now here's a rundown of why this turned out the way it did.
Goalkeeping has been a revolving door position for SiPS since its founding, but the two that have done the most with their career are by far Rodionov and their current backstop Mattias Hammevik. Rodionov was far more consistent than Hammevik, though, which is what gave him the prize. However, Hammevik was far younger upon joining SiPS, so don't be surprised if he surpasses his Estonian friend and rival in the future.
As far as the other goalkeepers go, well, let's go back to the very beginning and Roni Pyhäjärvi. He was young, ambitious, and very streaky. Also there at the beginning was older, more consistent goalkeeper Veli Hietelahti, who would stick around for two seasons as backup to first Valio Hätinen, then to Sasja Rodionov, even after Hätinen up and left. Now to Hätinen's credit, he did play a decent factor in SiPS' run to the El Legado Cup Finals and to their same-season Tercera victory.
Also of note is current second-fiddle goalkeeper Hannu Halonen. He's decent enough, but he's not anywhere in the league of Rodionov or Hammevik.
You know your defence is good when you've only ever had six defenders in the club's history. Salomäki, Vahalahti, Hitonen, Lasse Myllyjärvi, and Vesa Vartia were the original five defenders when the club was first founded, with Riku Palander coming later. So why were Lasse Myllyjärvi and Vartia left out? For Myllyjärvi, it is his unfortunate fragility, which has lost him the vice-captaincy and the regular spot he had in the lineup in the first season, with the former going to right back extraordinaire Vahalahti, and the latter ending up going to Tornedalen Finn Palander.
Vartia, on the other hand, has been factored down to a lack of the same consistency that was shown by the team's other high-profile defenders. Mind you, voting was very close between these two and Palander, because of the fact Palander has not been around as long.
Now big Jarkko goes without saying. The fact that he is the all-time leader in matches played and points and assists amongst defencemen, and tied with Vahalahti for goals amongst defencemen, says almost everything. But one could point out that he has also been team captain since the team's inception, and not just because he owns the team - he wanted to earn it, according to manager Teppo Kostamo, and he did with his no-nonsense play.
But even Jarkko points to someone as being better than him, and in this case it's Petteri Vahalahti, 2009 Bolakliiga Defender of the Year and Season 6 Liga Mundo MVP - yes, we mean the whole damn show. Fast, powerful, flexible, and smart, Vahalahti is a pain in the neck to play against since he just will not quit.
Hitonen has had his down moments, but overall he has proven to be a very reliable man at centre back, and the fans noticed this.
Boy was this ever close.
Although none of the seven midfielders the team has ever had could be classified as a bust, Boris Liv, a Livonian left mid, retired before he could really make a lasting impression on the fans, although to his credit, he did average close to a point per game (9G 6A in 18 LM games and 3G 15A in 20 Bolakliiga games). As for Niko Rouhiainen, he often toiled on the bench, although he did get 10 goals in 43 games, which isn't bad at all.
But it was old-guarder Pasi Viuhko that just missed out, and the determining factor was probably his infamous temper, which has him a team-record 21 bookings (19 yellow, 2 red). He also had fewer points in more matches than the guy that beat him for midfield honours, 20-year-old Hessu Öörni. Now this kid could be, or become, the next Tenhola - he already has a higher points-per-game rate and could pass him in career Liga Mundo goals with two. He was also second, ahead of Raimo Suominen and only one behind Jukka Tenhola, in Bolakliiga assists, plus he played the entire 21-game season. Durable, versatile, and most importantly, scarily talented, Hessu belongs on this list even at his age. He was already playing B-Liiga matches at 18 years old!
Jarkko Salomäki's little cousin Aleksi is what you find in the dictionary under "versatile." He may have bobbed back and forth between the reserves at first, but once he established himself, he proved to be invaluable. Most at home on the wings, he can play right or left midfield, or right or left wing-back, and he both scores goals and sets them up.
Raimo Suominen has already long passed Jukka Tenhola in points in Liga Mundo, although he's still a ways behind in Bolakliiga and overall club career points. But here's a key stat most people overlook when looking at Raimo - he is second all-time in SiPS goals and assists, having scored more goals than every forward but Joni Rasimus. The reason? He has an absolutely ferocious right-footed cannon shot, but also sees the pitch well, and likes to hang back, sort of like a general. He doesn't neglect his defensive responsibilities either, having the all-time highest tackle-completion percentage amongst SiPS mids. He is third all-time in Bolakliiga and overall points and is set to pass Rasimus in Liga Mundo points for tops.
And then there's Jukka. 'Nuff said. He holds the SiPS overall, Bolakliiga, and Liga Mundo assists records, is second all-time in overall and Bolakliiga points behind hotshot striker Joni Rasimus, and is third all-time in Liga Mundo points for SiPS behind Rasimus and Suominen.
The hardest position to vote on is up front. Now there's no question - Joni Rasimus belongs in the 11. He is the Bolakliiga's second-all-time high goal and point-getter, and SiPS' all-time leading goal and point scorer overall. He currently holds the SiPS team record for Liga Mundo points, plus he is fourth all-time in Liga Mundo league goals and third all-time in LM cup goals. It's clear that only Khavkuk Shlomov, the "Jewish Pelé," is better in Uralica.
The real trick was deciding who is good enough to join him. Not surprisingly, the bulk of votes fell between Hungarian Bali Szívós, who still plays domestic football for the team, and Pauli Vauhko, who retired after last season. Vauhko won out for his play in Liga Mundo, where he actually scored a good many goals, as opposed to Szívós, who only ever scored five, although he still holds a record for most LM assists by a forward for SiPS with 11.
As for other SiPS forwards, this is probably the only area where SiPS has ever had true busts. Keijo Lepistö only ever played one match before moving to the Kakkonen. Kai Kaarnio proved too fragile for the top level in spite of his talent. And Jarno Isoaho failed to live up to expectations before finally hanging up his cleats. Seppo Alkkis is the only one who has really improved since leaving the team - his fitness and ability are much better, and he is currently a star to the fans of CSKVC Kirov.
As for current forwards, none of them are on par with Rasimus, however there is hope for the future with those who have played. Both Tauno "The Gentleman" Jäkälä and Topi Jussila have a goal-scoring rate around a goal every two games in LM, and Jäkälä already has Bolakliiga hardware, having been bestowed the Bolakliiga Fair Player Award for his sportsmanship. Some are saying Jussila has the potential to surpass Vauhko as Rasimus' right-hand man up front. There is also Aleksi Paikkonen, who is showing signs of good form. If he does not completely catch on with SiPS, most fans are sure he will somewhere else.
After all this, we come to another question. Who is the best of them all?
If you take who the fans chose per position, you end up with Rodionov, Vahalahti, Tenhola, and Rasimus.
Vahalahti is the only SiPS player to win international individual hardware outside the realm of pure statistics, having been named Liga Mundo MVP. However, in domestic play, the "Jukka and Joni Connection" has terrorised opposition, and Rodionov has already endeared himself to Uralican fans as the best goalkeeper the nation has ever seen, in spite of the young guns seeking to dethrone him from this.
In the final vote, the fans spoke out loud and clear. Joni Rasimus, with his consistent goal-scoring and constant highlight reel appearances, was voted SiPS' all-time best player.
Rasimus - 41%
Rodionov - 22%
Tenhola - 21%
Vahalahti - 16%