DAY 1 (Sunday 10th June)


In order to get through the football-free summer months a week-long trip to Iceland was recently undertaken. Our party flew with BA via Gatwick to Keflavik, Iceland’s main international airport, located on the coast 55km west of the capital, Reykjavik. A bus service connects all incoming flights to the city centre.


First night spent in the Hotel Fron, a smart modern 70-room hotel located on Laugavegur, the main shopping street. Oxford Street it isn’t, more like a village street in England.


Reykjavik is the most northerly capital in the World and the most westerly in Europe. The houses and shops are picturesque and brightly painted, many still made from wood, then clad with corrugated iron to try and keep the vicious Atlantic winds out and the heat in. Apart from the sea, vast lavafields and snow capped mountains surround the city.


Iceland is composed from some of the youngest rocks on earth and indeed is still being formed, with the meeting point for the continental tectonic plates of Europe and North America directly beneath. These plates are gradually moving apart making Iceland fractionally bigger each year. The country is about the size of England but only has a population of about a quarter of a million. Approximately half of these live in the capital. Hardly anyone lives in the vast inhospitable interior.


Iceland is very environmentally friendly with recycling much in evidence although the latest developments regarding aluminium smelting and whaling would seem to contradict this. Water from the natural hot springs is pumped down to the city though it is a bit unnerving to wash in the aroma of bad eggs. The water pipes are placed under the roads giving the added effect of preventing the surfaces from freezing in winter.


Our first football leads us by bus to an eastern suburb of the city, with some high-rise blocks, scruffy shops and an almost East European feel. The game is a women’s match so I am sure many would be loath to count it. I have no such scruples however.


Leiknir R (Reykjavik) 6   BI (Bolungarvik) 2 (Women’s league Regional Div I) Att: (est. 20)


Leiknir’s mens and womens teams each compete in Division I which is the second level in Icelandic football. The 1,300 capacity Leiknirsvollur (vollur being field) has a floodlit artificial pitch enclosed by wooden post and rail. There are 7 steps of open concrete terrace along the far side and a grass bank along the near. It appears that a new pitch is being developed to the rear, this having a grass pitch and a stand running full length down one side. The match provides good entertainment although the standard is variable.


Have to take two buses to get to our main game for the day. Hafnafjordur is technically a town in its own right but sometimes is seen as just a suburb of the capital, being just 10km south of Reykjavik. Apart from the Viking Festival there is not much going on. No bars in eveidence, just a couple of cafes and restaurants. Even A. Hansen’s restaurant is shut. Unbelievable !!


FH (Fimleikafelag Hafnafjordur) 0   Fylkir (Reykjavik) 0 (Landsbanka Deildin – Premier League)          Att: 2,236



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FH’s Kaplakrikavollur is currently being developed into a 6,000 capacity stadium. At present there is open seating down most of the two sides with the pitch sunken below. Considering the climate it seem strange that there is so little cover at Icelandic grounds. Grass banking at the two ends, one of which has a bouncy castle that is well used throughout the game. Keeps the kids quiet I suppose.


FH were formed in 1929 and mainly known for sports such as handball until the last few years. Following so long without any major football achievements the club have now finished champions for the last three seasons and top the table again this term after 4 matches. Fylkir won the cup in 2001 but have done little else. They do have a good contingent of supporters however, in their bright orange shirts. FH have the Gunnlaugsson twins, once of Bolton and Stoke. It’s a tight tough game with limited chances, FH’s 100 % record is ended and Fylkir have several good chances to win it. A clash of heads sees a double sending off to enliven proceedings. Admission is the equivalent of £6.25 or £10, with a fairly basic programme available free of charge.


Football was first played in Iceland in 1895, being introduced by a Scottish printer and bookseller. A local competition was started in Reykjavik in 1912, though for some time there were only about three teams involved. KR are the oldest team, were the inaugural champions and have generally been the most successful club over the years. Nearly all the leading clubs are based in the south-west corner of the country around the capital with just a few others along the North coast and elsewhere. The domestic season runs from May to October. A national body was not formed until 1947. Eidur Gudjohnsen is probably their best known player but Icelanders are becoming more involved in the ownership of English clubs (Stoke, West Ham) in recent years.


Drink in ‘the Celtic Cross’ where we start to get accustomed to the prices, 600 Krone (£5) for a beer almost everywhere. Fortunately we decide not to wait until it gets dark to call it a night, we would have been there till about September otherwise!



DAY 2 (Monday 11th June)


Have a morning stroll round some of the tourist sights of Reykjavik and then head to the City Airport for a 45 minute Air Iceland flight to Akureyri, flying being cheaper and a lot quicker than the bus. The plane is a Fokker, or was that Fokker a Messerschmidt ? Excellent views of snow capped mountains and a large glacier from 17,000 feet anyhow.


Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest city and capital of the northern part of the country. Nearly 400km north-east of Reykjavik and at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord, it is surrounded by mountains up to 5,000 feet in height. 


3 km walk along the fjord from the airport to town. Once again we are based on the main shopping street, although the total population of the town is only 15,000. The Akureyri Guesthouse used to be a pharmacy but they soon dispensed with that idea. Just a 5 minute walk to the football ground.


Thor (Akureyri) 1 KA (Knattfyrnufelag Akureyri) 0 (Icelandic Cup 3rd Round) Att: 957







Both Thor and KA usually play at the Akureyarvollur which has a reputed capacity of 3,500. The pitch is at the centre of a basic 4-lane running track with all spectator facilities built in to the slope on one side. There is a section of about 15 rows of bench seating. Most of the rest is steps carved into the natural grass banking. Large rocks stick out at certain points and these are used as vantage points too. Food and drink is available from a kiosk at the back. All of the games seem to have pizzas delivered from the local franchise just before half time, the pizzas being portioned and sold at a healthy profit. The rest of the ground is flat standing round the track.

Entrance costs about £8 and there is no programme.

The two Akureyri sides are both in Deild 1. KA were league champions back in 1989 but are now mid-table in what is in effect the second division whereas Thor are top. Thor are comfortably the better side tonight although it takes them a long time to score the only goal of the game.



DAY 3 (Tuesday 12th June)


Have a quick look at the Church that includes a stained glass window from the old Coventry Cathedral. It was apparently removed at the start of WWII and found by an Icelander in a London antiques shop sometime later.


Drive up to the painful sounding village of Arskogsandur where we get a 15 minute ferry crossing to the island of Hrisey. It’s the second largest island off Iceland, 7 x 2.5 km in size, with a population of 210. Noted as the breeding ground of the ptarmigan  though not noted enough for us to see any of the birds that apparently stroll nonchalantly through the lanes and gardens.


More sightseeing in the afternoon, taking advantage of our 7-seater Dodge Charger. Godafoss is a pretty impressive waterfall and the Myvatn area is a unique natural environment with lots of fumaroles, bubbling mud pots and extreme sulphur smells. At a depth of 1000 metres here the temperature is 200 degrees Celsius and the surface looks like a lunar landscape. Myvatn is also the name of the 37 square kilometre ‘midge lake’. Swarms of the black insects are everywhere and at one point a large group flies straight into the front of the car causing the driver to duck and leaving the windscreen and number plate obliterated.


Back in Akureyri head off to the golf course mainly for the novelty of playing at midnight in ‘daylight’. It also claims to be the most northerly golf course in the world but one or two other places dispute that. Still, Jack Nicklaus is an Honorary Member and basketball star Michael Jordan is among those who have flown in just for the midnight golf experience.



DAY 4 (Wednesday 13th June)


Long drive back down to Reykjavik where accommodation for the next three nights is at the luxurious and very spacious Tower Guesthouse located in Grettisgata, parallel to the main street and again very close to the centre of downtown Reykjavik.


Valur (KF Valur Reykjaviki) 3 Vikingur (KF Vikingur Reykjavik) 1 (Landsbanka Deildin – Premier League) Att:923




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Valur play at the Laugardsvollur national Stadium a couple of kilometres east of the city centre. Capacity is supposed to be 15,000 with almost 10,000 seated. Both sides have seating and cover and there are floodlights too. Crumbling terracing curves round the compulsory athletics track at the ends. £10 is charged for entrance and there is a free colour programme given out as well as a large handbook covering all Icelandic football. The stadium is part of a large area given over to sport and recreation. Lower division side Throttur’s ground including a substantial covered stand, is right next door.


Valur have won 18 league titles although many were pre-war and the last was back in 1987. They did win the cup, for the 8th time, just 2 years ago. Vikingur have a more modest 5 championships to their name. 2nd v 4th in terms of the league table at the time. Pretty good game all in all with Valur deserving their in the end, fairly comfortable victory.



DAY 5 (Thursday 14th June)


Walk up to the big Church, hallgrimskirkja, a massive spaceship shaped stone structure that has been in almost constant construction since the end of World War II. Most go up the 73 ft. tower to admire the views. Inside, the Church is fairly Spartan but the 60 foot high organ with over 5000 pipes, is impressive.


                   KR (Knattspyrnufelagid Reykjavik) 0 FH (Fimleikafelag Hafnafjordur) 2                  (Landsbanka Deildin – Premier League) Att:2,238






The 3,000 capacity KR Vollur is just west of the city centre, close to the harbour. The main stand runs most of one side and contains 12 rows of covered seating with room for a few to stand at the back. About 10 steps of open wooden terracing adjoin at each end of the stand. This is continued in Heath Robinson fashion round one of the corners in the form of stacked up wooden pallets ! The large clubhouse at the far end has free coffee available at half time. The rest of the two ends have no spectator facilities with high pitch-side advertising boards preventing viewing from these areas. The far side just has flat standing on grass adjoining further pitches.


£10 entry, no programme but a monthly club magazine is given out.

KR are historically Iceland’s most successful club, winning 20 league titles up to 1968. They then suffered a 30 odd year barren spell before claiming further championships in 1999 and 2000. This season they are bottom of the league without a win. The table-topping visitors coast into an early 2-0 lead and although KR come back strongly they miss a host of chances to make the game more interesting. As it is the second half is pretty flat with FH comfortably protecting their two- goal advantage.



DAY 6 (Friday 15th June)


Walk down to Hofdi, a white building on the seafront, best known for the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in 1986. Here they discussed Star Wars and presumably other films of the time.


Drive off to complete the main tourist trail known as the Golden Circle, a 125 mile round trip taking in three of the most prominent sites. Thingvellir is the place where Iceland’s original parliament, or alpingi, originally met in 930. The site is now at the centre of a large national park and had World Heritage status bestowed on it in 2004. Walk down from the visitor centre along the rift valley that runs directly above the tectonic plates of North America and Europe.

Geysir is the site that gave the World the name geyser. The original large Geysir has been largely inactive since the 1960’s, despite attempts to keep it going by pouring masses of soap powder into it. Fortunately the nearby Strokkur (churn) still spouts about 20 metres into the air at regular intervals. Lots of other steaming vents and bubbling pools are set along the laid out trails.


Finally, Gullfoss (golden falls), in fact 2 separate falls with a combined drop of 105 ft. in a 1.5 mile long canyon lined with basalt columns like organ pipes.

Drive back past Reykjavik and out onto the Reykjanes peninsula for this evening’s football fix.


Reynir S. (Sandgerdi) 2 Leiknir R (Reykjavik) 3 (Deild 1 – Division I) Att:125






Sandgerdi is a small fishing village set close to the south west tip of the Reykjanes peninsula. The Sandgerdisvollur is a pretty new but basic set up, quite exposed to the harsh North Atlantic winds.


Two pitches sit side by side with the main one enclosed at different points by advert hoardings, post and rail or post and rope. The side adjoining the other pitch is completely open with only officials and the two benches allowed in this area. There is grass banking round most of the rest and a modern 2-storey clubhouse block including tea bar at the near end.

The ground is not enclosed from the road at the near end so club officials patrol the bank to try and ensure spectators pay their £8.40 entrance fee. A 4-page programme is given out.


Both sides are towards the foot of the 12-team second tier, Reynir having just come up from the third level. After a quiet first-half an excellent second period ensues. Reynir come from behind to lead 2-1, but Leiknir strike twice in the same place, with about 10 minutes to go, to claim their first win of the season.



DAY 7 (Saturday 16th June)


Check out from our Reykjavik apartment and head 140km south to Bakki, which is basically just a small airfield near the coast. Spectacular 6-minute flight in an 8-seater turboprop Britten-Norman Islander out to Vestmannaeyjar. The Westman Islands, to give them their English name, are a long strip of 15 islands and numerous rocks lying 10 km offshore. It was probably the first part of Iceland to be inhabited and was created by underwater eruptions. This process is still going on, as evidenced by the appearance of Surtsey from beneath the waves in 1967.


Land on Heimaey, the only one of the islands that is inhabited and walk the 3 km into town. Precipitous cliffs teeming with bird life, a fishing harbour that was temporarily home to Keiko the killer whale that featured in the film ‘Free Willy’ and a dramatic volcanic landscape are to be seen. Two volcanoes sit above the town, Helgafell and Eldfell, the latter only being created as a result of a massive eruption in 1973. The entire 5000 population had to be evacuated and the eruption continued for 6 months. Miraculously the flow of molten lava stopped at the harbour just as it threatened to bury the whole town. As it was a number of streets and houses were lost 20 metres below and signposts in the lava field show their location. But we have not come here just to see the sights……


IBV (Vestmannaeyjar) 1 KA (Akureyri) 0 (Deild 1 – Division I) Att: 275




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The 3,540 capacity hasteinsvollur is on the western edge of town. Last match of the trip and certainly the most spectacular setting for a ground. Massive cliffs soar up on one side while the sea is close beyond he far end.

The pitch is enclosed by a wooden fence with grass banking round most, except for a rocky outcrop in one corner and a block of 600 individual seats set into the bank on the near side. A number of people watch from their cars either in the road adjacent or from a track part way up the cliff getting a good elevated view and some shelter from the bitter wind. There is an unusual barrel-shaped corrugated tin press box set between the 2 dugouts. When is David Bauckham going to do a book on press boxes ?


IBV are the only non-mainland team in the league. They have won the championship 3 times, including back to back successes in 1997 and 1998, but more recently have been relegated. Both teams are currently mid-table. KA hit the bar but the home side make most of the running and deserve victory. The only goal, in the 76th minute, is greeted by a crescendo of horn beeping from the car watchers.


Back at the airport see the away team and match officials get their flights before we depart. Time for one final tourist sight, the famous Blue Lagoon, a sort of big outdoor bath really. The Lagoon filled up after the construction of the adjacent geo-thermal power station. People started to bathe in the waters and began to notice healing powers. The water is now artificially heated to 37-39 degrees Celsius and contains a mixture of salts, silica and blue-green algae.


Stay the final night at the pricey but impressive Hotel Keflavik near the airport. A relatively uneventful trip home followed the next day and a nice touch was that the baggage handlers eventually decided to collect our luggage from the plane and deliver it to the terminal for us to collect.


contributed on 06/07/07