The first step in this indeterminable Europa journey begins
next in two Thursdays when the club travels to the Faroe Islands to take on NSÍ Runavík, who finished third in the Faroe Islands Premier League last year. As in, literally last year as they are currently 4th having played 12 matches in the 2011 Season.
Because Runavík’s stadium isn’t UEFA approved, they play at Tórsvøllur, which is also where the Faroe Islands national team play (and recently defeated Estonia). Lovely stadium that should be memorable for whomever is fortunate enough to take the trek.
Where we’ll be:
Of 10 international matches, Runavík has won just once, in 2008. Also, one would assume that Runavík would be a totally homogenous, but they do sport a Hungarian goalkeeper András Gángó, a Sengalese midfielder Ismail Abdul Razak, a Georgian midfielder Mamuka Toronjadze, and a Cameroonian defender named Hugues Nanmi.
Our next opponents, if we beat Runavík, are Crusaders of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Believe it or not, but the Faroe Islands had a higher club coefficient than Northern Ireland in 2010. Nonetheless Crusaders finished second in the IFA Premiership, and have a pretty awesome nickname: “The Hatchetmen”. The club has won just once in 20 European Matches (over Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania in 1996), but managed to face Liverpool in the European Cup back in 1976.
The most interesting thing about this club is after years of debate they went from a membership-based organisation to a public limited company in 2009, which is noteworthy considering the IFA Premiership is semi-professional.
I so wish I could make a trek back to Belfast (best city in my trip ’round Ireland in 2006), but thankfully there’s a 3-part video series of Seaview Stadium. I suppose you could find a similar stadium in the Conference, but at least there’s different currency:
We should play a game of “Name that Lineup!” sometime later this week (seriously, I have no idea who will be our first XI), but until then feel free to add any interesting tidbits about each club you’ve found.