Quite a nice feeling waking up in Fuglafjørður on a very mild, calm morning. It’s Saturday, which means matchday. I’m away up in the north, and I’ve got the whole day ahead of me to play at tourists till I head down to Tórshavn and look for my kip for the night. Katrin, my hostess, has laid on a good spread at breakfast. There’s a young Dutch couple from Arnhem staying too but they don’t appear before I leave. The town appears to be asleep and there’s no traffic till I approach the roundabout for Norðragøta where you branch off northwards.
It’s a short run to Klaksvík which is the Faroes’ second town with 5000 people. It’s on the island of Borðoy which you reach through the 6.3km Norðoyatunnilin which only opened in 2006, making Klaksvík a key port for the islands, as well as the home of Föroya Bjór, one of the two breweries in the Faroes. Driving through the tunnel, ponder the fact that you are 150M below the sea at one point. Exit the tunnel and you’re into Klaksvík before you know it.
Before reaching the tunnel you pass through Leirvík, a small town with a huge harbour and hundreds of huge, ravenous gulls. There’s also a stadium although it’s not used for major matches. It is part of the Víkingur setup though, and seems to host the U18 matches, amongst others, although it was once the home of Leirvík ÍF before the merger with GÍ Gøta and the founding of Víkingur. Today the place was buzzing with parents and kids as there was some sort of coaching session going on.
One thing I saw time and again in the Faroe Islands was the level of community involvement in football. Part of this is due to the 3G pitches but sadly a lot is cultural too. If you approach a football ground in Scotland it’s more than likely locked up and if you’re lucky you’ll meet a grumpy wee man guarding it. This is understandable as grass pitches can’t be used more than once or twice a fortnight in winter.
However in the Faroes, apart from matchdays, it was difficult to get a photo of the pitch without a clutter of moveable goalposts all over the place. The stadiums were never locked and everybody was free to wander. When I was in Tórshavn I saw some boys, doing coaching in bibs, in the Tórsvøllur (6000 seat national stadium), at 10am on a Sunday. Imagine playing on the Hampden pitch at age 10 and you get the picture. I can’t see players being fazed by the big occasion if they’re brought up in that environment.
Anyway I got a couple of shots of the park in Leirvík which is apparently called Uppi á Brekku.
I had to make the best of my limited time in Klaksvík as I only wanted to pay for the tunnel once. Unfortunately I couldn’t see the league leaders KÍ play although I had seen second-placed Víkingur the night before. The following day (Sunday) KÍ won 3-2 at HB in Tórshavn in front of 1500 to stay clear at the top. If I wanted to visit Toftir on Sunday then I would have to miss that.
I called at the Djúpumýra Stadium anyway and there was plenty happening. By the amount of equipment being used I would say this was the KÍ first team training on Saturday morning before the big Effodeildin match the next day.
Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag won the first ever championship in 1942 and are on course to win their 18th title this year, the first since 1999, and wrest it away from 22-time winners B36 Tórshavn. How well they do will soon become clear as they have to visit both of their main rivals, NSÍ and Víkingur, in consecutive weeks in September.
KÍ Klaksvík Kvinnur is the women’s team and they have won 1.deild for the past 16 years running, as well as qualifying for every UEFA season. This year though, they have a challenge from EBS/Skála and the league table is level pegging.
After a wander around I decided to get myself some exercise and drove up above the town to the west where there is a track up to a 245M pass (Halsur) overlooking the town. There were quite a few walkers and joggers out as it was a fine morning.
When I got back down I had a wander around the town and drifted back to the stadium. Now there was a boys’ match on – possibly U15. I asked a man standing next to me but he didn’t know who was playing. He was wearing a B68 (Toftir) jacket and waiting for his teenage daughter’s game to start. We talked for a while about Scottish and English football. He was from Runavík and had played for NSÍ Runavík for 5 or 6 years. However his wife was from neighbouring Toftir so that’s where he lived and his daughter played. Sadly I didn’t get his name but it’s a small world so somebody will know.
After picking up a few groceries at the Bónus supermarket it was time to get underway and head south as there was a 3pm match at Argir but that’ll have to be in Part 3…