Kohusiirto West Hamiin Kuluneen kauden Herculeksen värejä ylpeydellä kantanut monipuolinen britti Tony ”The Tiger” Thrussel sai unelmapestin Valioliigan West Ham Unitedista. Tony saapui keväällä 2016 suoraan yliopiston penkiltä ansaitsemaan kannuksensa Herculeksen mediatiimissä. Tony osoittautuikin enemmän kuin luottamuksen arvoiseksi ja oli korvaamaton kaveri osallistuen kaikkeen mahdolliseen Herkun toimintaan taivaan ja maan väliltä. Tekipä Tony siinä sivussa Herkku-Pappojen riveissä enemmän maalejakin (2 kpl!) kuin kakkosvalmentaja Pekka Haaranen, mistä Tony varmasti jaksaa Peksiä muistuttaa tämän loppuelämän ajan. Kauden päätteeksi Tony kiersi ahkerasti kotimaansa seuroja unelmansa perässä. Tonyn kertoman mukaan haastattelijat arvostivat hänen rohkeuttaan lähteä kohti tuntematonta, kertynyttä kokemustaan ja tekemisiään Herculeksen mediatiimissä. Seuran sisällä epäillään eeppisten ”12 labours of Hercules” -jaksojen olevan se ratkaiseva tekijä, jolla työpaikka lopulta irtosi ”Vasaroista”. Herculeksen toimistolla hykerrellään tyytyväisyydestä Tonyn puolesta. ”Vaikka olisimme mielellämme Tonyn täällä pitäneet, on hienoa, että hän pääsi unelmatyöpaikkaansa”, kertoo toiminnanjohtaja Mikko Perälä. Hercules ei ole olemassa pelkästään pelaajille, vaan koko yhteisön lisäksi myös kaikille seuran toimijoille. ”Tonyn tapaus toimikoot esimerkkinä myös muille. Hercules on huomattu maailmalla ja tekemisiämme seurataan myös jalkapallon ulkopuolisissa asioissa. Enemmän kuin mitään muuta haluamme toimia ponnahdusalustana nuorille ihmisille unelmiensa tavoittelemisessa”, toteaa Perälä. Vielä lopullista kokoonpanoaan etsivä mediatiimimme (hoxhox seuraavat tonythrusselit) lähetti Tonylle muutaman kysymyksen. Katso Tonyn vastaukset alta. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moi Hercules perhe! (Hello Hercules Family, is this correct finnish?) Why did you decide to make a completely different career decision than most people in your position and come to Finland? Fresh out of university I was finding it extremely tough to get noticed within sports media, experience was very much against me. A meeting with Mikko Perälä and a subsequent offer to join Hercules for the 2016 season turned out to be the most rewarding career move I have ever made. There was an element of risk with my decision, going into the unknown but there is no reward without risk. Leaving my job and home town with two weeks notice could have been deemed ‘crazy’ by some, but the result of my decision has only propelled me upwards. What did you like most about working for a small club like Hercules? From touchdown in Oulu I was handed immense responsibility. Building their online video platform from the ground up, I still feel a great deal of attachment to the HerculesTV project and seeing the growth over the course of the 2016 season was an amazing feeling. I was given a lot of freedom to showcase my skills and talent through this platform and I sincerely hope that the club keeps pumping out quality content. Secondly I felt welcomed from the get go, from the backroom staff to the players, quickly we learnt that this was a special project during a memorable season.

Photo: Tony (second from left) and Tuukka Hyttinen doing their thing during season 2016 with Hercules

 How did you end up in West Ham? At the end of the 2016 Kakkonen season I returned back to the UK, pursuing a variety of opportunities within Football. With considerable experience behind me now I felt that I was being given far more recognition than a year previous. Eventually I was offered the chance to join up with West Ham United for the remainder of the 2016/17 season. Without the experience and skills I picked up with Hercules I can assure you that I would not be where I am today. Moving to cities again is always tough but I knew I could make it work just as I did with Oulu.  What will you be doing at WHU? I am part of the video team at West Ham, this involves the creation of all kinds of content, similar to what you have seen on HerculesTV. Match days will always be the best part about working in football. The platform is huge and with such a large fan base it is great to see our content reaching such a big audience. In job interviews, how did people react to your experience / time with Hercules? What I have noticed since returning from Oulu is the respect and admiration I have been given for my work at Hercules. Not only the scale of production we achieved for a club of their size but the desire I showed to pursue my dream of working within football. If you want something, go get it! Of course the most frequently asked questions revolved around the weather, but ultimately it has helped me to stand out through such a unique experience. The most memorable moments from Hercules season 2016? On and off the pitch? There were so many memorable moments to choose from, the comeback win against AC Kajaani, putting in the perfect performance against TP-47 in front of the visiting Premier League Productions film crew. Nothing however can top the late drama in the penultimate game against VIFK where Junior Obagbemiro scored the goal that kept Hercules in the Kakkonen for another season. Off the pitch I was privileged to make many new friends, attending two weddings and most importantly playing and scoring in the fifth division for Herku-Papat! What will you miss from Finland? The thing I will miss most is the people involved with Hercules, I arrived a stranger and left a member of their family. I owe a great deal to Mikko and Timo Perälä who between them were integral to my stay in Oulu, welcoming me into their family and giving me the tools to succeed at Hercules. The Finnish countryside is also breathtakingly beautiful and  I hope to return one day to experience another midsummer with cool grape and makkara!  Your advice for young media professionals who want to make it in sport business? My advice for similar young professionals who are in two minds about taking a risk (big or small), is to go after what you truly want. The responsibility and respect I was given throughout my time in Oulu is something that has only benefitted my career and is something that not only helps to shape your career but also you as a person. Embracing a foreign culture is something special and the last thing I have to say is to just take a walk on the wild side.   Kiitos