The date is the 22nd of September 2018. The small Icelandic village of Akranes holds their breath as they look to see out a 1-1 draw that will get them promoted back to the top division of Iceland, the Úrvalsdeild karla. However, there is an exception to this support. Meet the British fan who fell in love with Iceland football and the small village of Akranes.
“I started following Icelandic Football around 1989-1990. I noticed ÍA on TV programme Futbol Mundial in 1997 and from then on they were my team.”
ÍA Akranes or Íþróttabandalag Akraness (Akranes Sports Club) were founded in the 1940s and play in yellow and black. The club have several honors to their name and have historically been one of the strongest clubs in Iceland with 18 Icelandic Championship trophies and and 9 Icelandic Cups. However recently the club found themselves relegated to the second tier of Icelandic football and fighting for a way back.
“89-90 Iceland football was bit of the unknown; with no internet then it was just from books mainly World Soccer or European Football Yearbook that I discovered the club.”.
Many fans today in the new evolving fan culture wouldn’t see the appeal in following an Icelandic football club who haven’t managed to reach the same heights as they have in the 90s and the flashy players of that in Barcelona and Real Madrid would seem more interesting to follow, however this fan would argue otherwise.
“For me the Icelandic Football was something different to explore. It was easy to follow Serie A or La Liga so I went for something different. Back in 89 I never expected I would go to Iceland to watch football.”
The club have taken to appreciate his profound love for the small village club in the west coast of Iceland, going as far to pay for him to come stay in Iceland and see his beloved club play.
I finally made a trip to Iceland in 2007 to watch ÍA. The club actually paid for me to go there, flights and somewhere to stay. I went twice in 2007 but have not been back since. I am well overdue a visit and hope to go next season.
Through social media he has managed to catch the attention of ÍA Akranes and Icelandic football fans alike, boasting over 460 followers on his twitter page devoted to the club. The connection between the fan and the club is just as strong as that between a local fan and a local team; the club loves the support and the support loves the club.
I think these smaller clubs are happy to have the support. They paid for my trip as a thank you for promoting the club. I am in contact with most of the players via Facebook or twitter. I only have good things to say about the town and people of Akranes. I have been made really welcome.
ÍA Akranes hold out for a 1-1 draw that sees them champions of the 1. deild karla and the town of Akranes will once again have a top division club to support next season.
With being a football fan, defeat and victory is all part of the package, no matter what club you support. However, one thing that you can’t achieve through supporting the flashy European megaclubs is that same level of interaction and community. This fan has proved that it doesn’t matter where you live, you can still achieve that level of passion and community within smaller clubs and should be an example of why the lower league clubs can be just as exciting and passionate as those at the top of the food chain. It will be exciting to see how ÍA Akranes will be doing next season and you can be sure that this fan will be watching every step of the way.