A few weeks ago I caught myself listening to the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4. I know, rock n’roll, eh? But as the announcer succinctly summarised the upcoming meteorological conditions for those hardy mariners savvy enough to understand it, I got to thinking about all the clubs that exist on the edges of these fabled maritime regions.
If you look at the map, you can see that the 31 different shipping forecast areas surrounding the United Kingdom and its approaches lap at the shores of several different countries and their respective islands; England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Iceland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Faeroe Islands.
Dotted along those coastlines at varying degrees of regularity are villages, towns and cities, most of which boast football clubs of equally different sizes and prominence.
In a four part series, sweeping down from the Arctic in the north to the Balearics in the south, Mark Godfrey, Pete Spencer and Giles Metcalfe will highlight the incredible range of environments, histories and circumstances of one club from the coast of each one of those shipping forecast areas. Tune in at 17.54 GMT – the time of forecast’s radio broadcast – over the next four evenings to learn more.
We begin our journey at our most northerly outpost;
SOUTH EAST ICELAND
UMF Sindri Höfn
Commonly known as Sindri, this is an Icelandic football and basketball club from the town of Hofn, located on the east coast of Iceland. Founded in 1934, they are currently in the third tier of the Icelandic League, known as Division Two. Their stadium is called Sindravellir and has a capacity of just 2000,
The Icelandic season ended in August 2013, with Sindri finishing 9th in a 12 team division. They were 7pts away from the drop zone. The new season kicks off again in March. Last season was their first in the third tier after four years in the fourth. In the past fifteen years they have only gone as high as the second tier for one season, back in 2002, where they promptly went back down again.
Currently, they have gone 35 matches since they last drew away from home. PS
Bailey is an area without any land mass and therefore no clubs play there
Nicknamed ‘The Covies’, Westport United are the oldest football club in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland having been founded in 1911. They play in red and black stripes, reputedly because of early links to the Dublin-based club, Bohemians. Their fiercest local rivals are Castlebar Celtic.
Since 1954, the club’s home has been the Westport Sports Park; the inaugural game saw a Jackie Carey XI (Carey was an ex-Manchester United and Eire full back) take on English giants, Everton. Manchester United were the guest opponents at the re-opening of the Sports Park in 1983 after a period of renovation.
In January 2001, the club nearly folded due to a lack of interest but following the appointment of Kevin Cusack, Westport United enjoyed a revival; going on to win several league and cup competitions in the ensuing years.
The club is currently trying to raise funds to build new grounds at Westport House. MG
Internazionale Kenmare were formed in 1985 under the name Templenoe Tigers. They changed their name to Internazionale in 1989 in honour of their multinational players of the day. The senior team competes in the Kerry District Premier League ‘A’ Division and also supports a ladies teams and junior teams of various ages.
The Irish town of Kenmare sits at the head of Kenmare Bay which empties into the North Atlantic. The town’s most important industry is tourism, lying as it does on the route of famous tourist attractions the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara. MG
Woolpack Wanderers are one of the two football teams on the Isles of Scilly, 30 miles off the south-west coast of England. Wanderers play in the two-team Isles of Scilly Football League, which is the world’s smallest football league.
They meet 18 times in the island’s league, once in the ‘final’ of the Wholesalers Cup and they play each other over two legs to decide the winner of the Foredeck Cup. There is also a Charity Shield played as a curtain-raiser to each new season, and an “Old Men versus the Youngsters” match on Boxing Day. The games take place throughout the autumn and winter, and then they go ‘on tour’ in West Cornwall in the Spring.
The teams share one ground, Garrison Field, on the island of St. Mary’s, and play on the same pitch at the same time every Sunday morning.
There did use to be an inter-island league, but it ceased to exist in the early 1980s. The repetitive nature of the fixture doesn’t seem to bother any of those involved, including regular referee Paul Charnock.
“These lads have the Corinthian spirit. They just want to play football, pure and simple.”
To shake things up a bit and keep things fresh, the available players are assigned to one of the two teams at the start of the season, like playing footy in the park when you were a kid.
Woolpack Wanderers’ skipper, Anthony Gibbons, explained:
“It’s pretty much like school-yard rules. The players’ names are put down on a piece of paper, broken down by positions.
“We flip a coin and the two captains then take it in turns to pick their squad for the year.” GM
Deportivo La Coruna
Founded in 1906, the club is based in Coruna, Galicia. They play at the Estadio Municipal de Riazor which has a capacity of 34,600. The team plays in blue & white
In the last 20 years there have only been 4 occasions that a club other than Barcelona or Real Madrid have won La Liga. Deportivo was one of those clubs to break the dominance, back in 2000. That team included players such as Diego Tristan, Roy Makaay, Fran and Mauro Silva. Their title winning season was followed two consecutive 2nd place finishes. However, in 2011 they were relegated from the top flight, but bounced back a year later, only to suffer a second relegation a year later.
Their nearest rivals are Celta Vigo and matches between the two clubs are known as the Galician derby.
At the moment, Depor are top of the Segunda Division and well placed to earn their way back to La Liga in the hope of staying there this time. PS
Vitoria Futebol Clube is a club from Setubal in Portugal, just south of Lisbon. They were founded in November 1910 and play in green and white at the Estadio do Bonfim in Setubal, which has a capacity of 18,728. They have won three Portuguese Cups and one League Cup and have the highest number of caps never to have won the League title.
They played in the inaugural Portuguese La Liga in 1934-35.
In the current season Vitoria are 12th in the Premier Division which holds just 16 clubs.
Notable former players include Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira who followed Jose Mourinho to Chelsea. Another Vitoria great, Jose Torres, was part of the great Portuguese side of the 1960’s which included Eusebio. Diamantino, who scored the only goal when Portugal beat England in Mexico ’86, also played for the club. In 1986, they appointed Malcolm Allison as manager, but he left a year later. PS
ES La Rochelle
ES La Rochelle were founded in 1904, originally as Etoile La Rochelle railway. In 1949, two clubs merged to become Entente Sportive La Rochelle we see today. The club plays in the Midwest League which is a regional league in France. The top division of this league is known as Division of Honour. La Rochelle won the title in the first two seasons in 1920 and 1921. They reached as high as the fourth tier of French football which is a mixture of professional and amateur clubs and is split into eight different groups. The group winners all compete to find a winner and La Rochelle were one such winner in 1986. The club has also won the Regional Cup four times.
La Rochelle is currently 4th in the Division of Honour just 2pts off the top at the halfway stage in the season.
Former French international, Dominique Rocheteau, started as a junior at the club who were also managed at one point by a Mr. Christmas, who was presumably a father-figure. During season 1991-1992, Joel Cantona, Eric’s younger brother, played for the club too. PS
Join us at 17.54 for more tomorrow….