Sunday, August 15, 2021

KR – FH (08-08-2021)

The second game of the day takes is roughly a 15 minute drive from Vikingur, towards the center. Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur (KR) is the oldest club from Iceland and is from the Vesturbær district of the capital. It plays its games in the KR-völlur, a football stadium in that holds about 2,700 people (1,541 seated) and is located at Kaplaskjólsvegur in West Reykjavík. This is also a game in the Úrvalsdeild karla, the highest division for men in Iceland.



I meet my Icelandic colleague again, who comes to support his team (FH), and has not just bought a ticket online for me, but also arranged a physical ticket. KR-völlur has one old-school English type stand, with covered seats, which is pretty full. I guesstimate some 500 ppl, including some 100 away supporters. Again, several mothers with babies and prams but this time also groups of teenage girls (also among away supporters).


In the 5th minute KR has an enormous chance, but it is shot high over from 5 meters. The next minute FH heads the ball just over. In the 8th minute a corner for the guests is headed in by the striker who completely outjumps everyone: 0-1


Just as happened when I saw FH in the previous game, they give the ball away in the back, without any pressure, and with a cross and a tip-in KR has equalized: 1-1. After about 20 minutes the pace goes down and everyone is just strolling around with at times a foul. Then, in the 37th minute, out of nowhere, a good opening by KR over left, a cross in, and a header just wide. Followed by a decent FH attack that ends with a shot wide over the goal. Half time score: 1-1.


Like in all other stadiums in Iceland, no food or drink in the stadiums (because of covid-19) and no club shop. Nothing… which makes the 15 minutes break long and boring.


The second half is again very poor. Slow, little creativity, long pauses, bad passes. In the 68th minute a FH player gets a second yellow card and therefore a red card. Somehow, I totally miss this and only find out at the end of the game when my colleague tells me. KR has been a bit better but nothing indicated that they were playing 10 men.


Only in the last few minutes does KR finally seem to get more urgent, but the pressure creates little chances. Hence, 1-1 is the final score and KR loses two points in its fight for European (qualifier) football next season.


While the game was quite poor, the atmosphere was pretty good. Also because of the almost 100 away supporters. KR should definitely be on your groundhopping list in Iceland.

Vikingur – KA (08-08-2021)


On Sunday I attempt a double hop in the city of Reykjavik, visiting two of the biggest and oldest clubs in the country. Knattspyrnufélagið Víkingur, commonly referred to as Víkingur or Víkingur Reykjavík, and internationally known as Vikingur FC, is based in the Fossvogur neighbourhood of Reykjavík. It is one of the oldest sports clubs in Iceland, founded in 1908, and plays in the Úrvalsdeild karla, commercially known as Pepsi deild karla, the highest division for men in Iceland.


They play their games in the Vikingsvöllur, which has a capacity of 2,000, including 1,450 covered and seated. The stadium is located at 'Traðarland' in Fossvogsdalur, south-east of the city center, in a residential area. I arrive 20 minutes before kick-off but can still easily park opposite to the stadium – most fans seem to arrive by foot from the neighborhood.


From the road you cannot really see the pitch as it is behind a building through which you enter. I pay ISK 2000 (~$16) and ask for a ticket. After some hesitation, the young woman gives me a generic one (yes!). Once you go through the building you enter the ground, which is really cute. They have one rather big, covered stand. Before kick-off, music is played and there is a real (small club) football atmosphere. Many people know and greet each other.


The main stand is pretty full, I guesstimate some 500-600 people. The fans are all over the place in terms of age and gender, though mostly men. There are a lot of kids and even some women with babies (and prams). There are some 50 supporters of Knattspyrnufélag Akureyrar (KA), mostly middle-aged men, who either live in the capitol or have made the ca. 4.5-hour drive from Akureyri, the capitol of the Northern Region. The pitch is artificial grass, which is being sprayed through built-in sprayers just before kick-off.


The first shot on goal is by Vikingur, in the second minutes, and goes just over. In the 8th minute, after pressure, a Vikingur player walks into the box and shoots dry and low in the far corner: 1-0. Another explosive start.


Vikingur is much better in the first part of the game and in the 16th minute another attack ends with a hard shot that is save by the goalkeeper. Only in the 21st minute does KA have its first good chance, which forces the home goalie to a good save. But from the consequent corner they somewhat surprisingly score: 1-1.


There are some soft chances on both sides, but there is no pace or sense of urgency. Vikingur are 1-1 at home and should be slaughtering KA, but everything is so predictable. Consequently, the game shifts and KA now has the better (half) chances. But then, just before half-time, out of nowhere, Vikingur has a calm attack and an excellent cross from the right is headed in: 2-1 In extra time a long pass by KA comes to the goalie, who shouts for it, and the. shoots it at KA attacker. Fortunately for him, the ball ricochets wide. Half time score is 2-1.


During the break the sun comes out and it is so warm that I it is pleasant to sit just in a t-shirt. I think this is the first time in Iceland I can do this for more than 2 minutes. Amazing! To be clear, it is probably only 19C and quite windy.


The first chance of the second half is for the visitors, in the 51st minute. Almost 10 minutes later a nice long KA attack is crossed from left to right, then volleyed in, and shot over. I leave in the 70th minute, to get to my evening game, and later hear that KA scored and the game ended 2-2. A loss of two important points for the championship for Vikingur, who could and should have won (easily).


Still, as a groundhop destination, Vikingur should be high on your list in Reykjavik. It is really a local club with a nice atmosphere.

KF Fjardabyggd – KV (07-08-2021)

Knattspyrnufélag Fjarðabyggðar (KFF) is an Icelandic football club from the town of Fjarðabyggð, located on the east coast of Iceland. The club was founded in 2001 with a merger of three local clubs and KFF plays in the 2. Deilid Karla (Second Division Men), which is really the third tier of Icelandic football.


The town that the game is played in, according to the official website of Icelandic football, is Eskifirdi, but my car’s GPS doesn’t recognize it. Fortunately, I put have an address of a restaurant in the neighborhood, and as I drive there, I see a football pitch with players practicing on it. After a quick snack, I go back and see two dozen people on the small stand. I ask a couple of guys whether this is the game I’m looking for (by pointing to my trip agenda as I cannot pronounce the names), which they confirm, so I pay ISK 1,500 (ca. $12) to get in – unfortunately, no ticket again.


So, it turns out that KFF plays its games in the town/village Eskifjördur, at a pitch that barely deserves the name stadium, as there are only a few seats on an uncovered “stand”. Still, thye 'stadium', Eskifjarðarvöllur does have one of the most remarkable backgrounds. 


The opponent is Knattspyrnufélag Vesturbæjar (KV), which comes from the Vesturbæjar district of Reykjavik. I wonder how this works logistically, as the game is played on Saturday at 14:00 and the drive from Reykjavik is some 8 hours. I assume they don’t play directly after an 8-hour bus ride, which would mean they left on Friday and will be home Saturday night/Sunday morning.


As the game is about 15 minutes in, I hand count 68 spectators. However, at least 15 come in later and at least 5 people watch from their cars, which you can park straight up to the gate. It is raining miserably, which together with a temperature of 12 C, makes it feel like a shitty October day in the Netherlands. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that spectators go to their car, as this is Icelandic summer. I cannot imagine it being much better during the rest of the season.


Another surprise, the team from the small town from East Iceland has two Black players. That’s more than I have seen in any of the Reykjavik teams. KFF players also often shout in English to each other, including to the non-Black players, indicating that there are various foreigners in the team.


In the 14th minute the away team scores from a corner and I count one away supporter. Four minutes later KFF has its first chance, a shot in a turn goes well over the goal. In the 29th minute a KV cross finds a player at 5 meters from the goal, but he tries to control it rather than volley it (he can’t). With one half chance for each team we are at half time: 0-1


Like others, I spend half-time in my car to shelter from the rain and type some notes. In the 54th minutes, as I get my umbrella from my car, KV scores again: 0-2. In the 68th minute a KFF defender shoots the ball straight at a KV attacker at the side of the box but he shoots it low at the goalkeeper.


In the 84th minute various KV players fail to shoot at goal from inside the box until one shoots at the goalie, who saves with one fist. Four minutes later KFF has a (very weak) header at goal. One of the first balls at the KV goal in the second half. In the 89th minute KV has a last very good attack: a cross is pulled back and a player storms into the box and shoots it wide. Should have been a goal. Final score: 0-2.


You don’t need to come here for the football but the setting of Eskifjarðarvöllur is absolutely unique.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Fram – Fjölnir (05-08-2021)


My second game in Iceland is the next day and is a second-tier game between Knattspyrnufélagið Fram (Fram Football Club) and Ungmennafélagið Fjölnir, commonly known as Fjölnir, the numbers one and three, respectively, of the 1. deild karla (literally First Division Men). I go with the husband of a colleague, who kindly pays but also manages to get me a (generic) ticket from another supporter.


Fram is one of the oldest and most successful football clubs in Iceland, which dominated Icelandic football in the 1980s and 1990s, but fell on hard time in the 2010s, when it relegated to the second level. The club is based at Safamýri, in the Háaleiti og Bústaðir district near Reykjavík city center.


As they are building a new stadium in another part of the city, Fram is playing its games still in the old “stadium”, in a residential area, which has a few old and uncovered seats on one side of the pitch. There seem to be some 250 people, many wearing Fram gear. 


There are also some 50 quite vocal fans from Fjölnir, a club from the Grafarvogur area of Reykjavík, so that is not much of a trip.


In the first five minutes Fram has two hard shots that are tipped over by the goalie. Then everything dies down a bit. In the first 10 minutes Fram seemed much better and well organized but after a good start the game became messy and the referee didn’t help, letting too much go.


Only in the 36the minute, after a long and messy period with few chances, Fram has a good attack that leads to a cross being headed through and volleyed in beautifully: 1-0. This is also the half time score.


In the second minute of the second half an Fjölnir attack is headed just over the goal. Some ten minutes later Fram has a great shot in the far corner, but the goalie saves with a beautiful, stretched dive. In the 66th minute the visitor score from a beautiful free kick that is volleyed in perfectly from 5 meters but sadly it was offside.


As we are two minutes in extra time, Fram has a good attack that is easily finished: 2-0. This is also the final score.


Overall a disappointing game, showing that the second level is well below the top flight, which is not stellar either. The ground will not be missed but I wonder how the atmosphere will be in the new ground as very few fans seem to come.

FH - HK (04-08-2021)


(you are correct, this is not the ticket from this game -- see below)


Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar (FH) is one of the many teams in the top division, the Úrsfeldeild karta (or, more commercially, Pepsi-deild karta, that is from the capitol Reykjavik, although many are from small towns that have become absorbed by the Capitol city more recently. This is also the case for FH, which is situated in Hafnarfjörður, in the southern part of the city. I am taken to the game by an Icelandic professor, who is a board member and knows absolutely everyone at the club. We arrive more than an hour early and I meet everyone, from the chairman to the coach.


Like most Icelandic clubs, FH has an indoor stadium and a outdoor stadium. Kaplakriki stadium is really nice, as the pitch is a bit lower than the rest of the ground, giving it a valley feeling. There is one big, covered stand and one smaller uncovered stand (which is not used for today’s game). The stadium holds 6,000, of which 3,500 can be seated.


There are no real tickets, as you pay through an app. I get a ticket from a recent European game as a souvenir (see above). There are some 600 people, I guesstimate, mostly dressed in black winter clothes, a decent mix in terms of ages and gender. There are also some 100 away supporters from HK (Handknattleiksfélag Kópavogs), a team from a town just south of Reykjavik, so they only had a 10 minute drive. The drums and chants come from a small group of young FH kids (ca. 12 year old).


In the first minute HK loses the ball and a great through ball is finished cool by the striker: 1-0. An incredible start. Two minutes later HK has a very good chance but the weak header from about 5 meters goes wide. In the 6th minute an FH defender just gives the ball away outside of the box and with one pass the HK striker can put the ball past the goalie: 1-1.


After the crazy start it become a bit more boring. But in the 17th minute a HK cross is missed by everyone except for a player at the end, who finishes from close up: 1-2. What a crazy game. In the 30th minute FH comes back, however. An attack over many players in the box, never really under control, is finished with a deflected shot: 2-2


Overall, the movement and formation of both teams are weak, the passing is really poor. And this despite the really beautiful real grass pitch. What surprises me is the theater, big dives, and loud shouts over little to nothing (particularly by HK players). More Southern than Northern European.


FH has completely imploded. They have so many poor passes, particularly by defenders at dangerous spots. The game is getting testy now, in part because the referee doesn’t communicate well. In the first minute of extra time, HK puts a winger alone in front of the goalie, he gets around him, and scores in tight space: 2-3. This is also the half time score.



It takes almost ten minutes in the second half for the first good attack, but this one, from the visitors, is deadly. An excellent cross is headed in from close range (poor defending) and the score is 2-4.


As the rain intensifies, attacking gets harder and defending easier. In the 66th minute a low cross of FH hits a sliding HK player’s arm. Home fans get very angry that FH doesn’t get a penalty and I think they are right. A minute later a rebound is shot in the top corner, but the HK goalie makes a beautiful safe. After that it gets messier and testier with fewer real chances. The quality of the game has gone down even further. Everything is so predictable and defensive.

In the end, 2-4 is also the final score. A remarkable result after a 1-0 lead in the first minute. The experience was quite enjoyable, however. FH has a nice, small town club atmosphere.