Wednesday, June 11, 2014

First signs of improvement in Iceland – few players appearing in foreign championship. Scotland, Denmark, it was not much yet. Icelandic players really built reputation in the 1980s – these were still tiny first steps. As a whole, Icelandic football was becoming sturdier, tougher, but still very easy to beat. As for domestic championship, they loved their football on the island and the small clubs playing in small leagues were at least not in peril similar to other small continental clubs. Ups and downs were frequent, of course – typical for fairly even amateur leagues.
KR Reykjavik won the second league. One of the most successful Icelandic clubs, they had some hard time, dropped to second level, but now were coming back. The oldest Icelandic club, founded in 1899, was not to stay down for long.
Second placed and also promoted were Haukar Hafnarfjördur.
Haukar were insignificant, compared to KR Reykjavik – moving up to first division was big achievement for them. Not bad anyway – just try to find their home town on a map... and Haukar was not the only club in Hafnarfjördur either. It is a miracle that a place like that can have a club at all – yet they had more than one. Haukar was found in 1931 and is much better known for its handball team, not for their football section. Sweet season – even in mild-mannered Iceland it was a matter of pride to better one's city rivals.
For Haukar went up and at the same time FH Hafnarfjördur finished 9th in first division with 10 points. Were they able to get a point more, a village derby would have been played in 1979, but no. FH were relegated. Having 3 points more than the last team was no consolation.
UB Kopavogur were dead last. They had one more victory than FH – 3 in total – but 7 points was the worst league record. One of clubs rarely playing top level football – more or less, naturally did not last long and went down.
Reykjavik, the capital city, was represented by 4 clubs in first division, and except Trottur, these were traditionally successful clubs – Fram, Vikingur, and Valur. Yet, it was not a race between the 'big boys' from the capital. Fram and Vikingur were weak this year; Trottur – just happy to escape relegation. In fact 8 of the 10 league members were not even close to the favourites – the bronze medalists, IB Keflavik finished 9 points behind the 2nd placed. Enourmous gap, considering that it was achieved after only 18 championship games.
It was not surprising to see IB Keflavik high in the table, but in reality they were their almost by default – just having a point more than others.
It looked like a two-team race, but it was not – the silver medalist were superior to the rest of the league, scored more goals than anybody else – 47, lost only 2 matches... and finished 6 points behind the champions. Not contenders at all – rather, staying alone: much stronger than the league and much weaker the real contenders.
IA Akranes got the silver, but may be it was just a bit weaker season. The club was one of the strongest Icelandic clubs in the 1970s and won the title in 1977.
Thus, only one club was left – Valur Reykjavik.

Not surprising at all to see them at the top – the club already won 15 titles. They were consistently strong – the first title was won in 1930, their last – in 1976. Valur won championships in every decade and perhaps the 1950s were their weakest, for they won only once, in 1956. There was drought between 1967 and 1976, but clearly it was over. Valur did not lose a single match this season. A single tie prevented them from finishing with perfect record of straight wins. Their defense was impenetrable – only 8 balls crossed their goal-line. Their strikers were second-best in the league – only IA Akranes scored more, but not much more: 47 to Valur's 45. Absolutely dominant champions. Such supremacy suggests a double...
Valur reached the Cup final, where they faced the second best this year, IA Akranes. Given the supremacy in the league, the final was not to be big deal. Perhaps... IA Akranes had their own ambitions and pride, they won 1-0. No double for Valur, but what a success for IA: they won their very first Cup!
Historic vintage for IA Akranes, but the names are a bit of a mystery... Sitting, from left: K. Thordarsson, Stefansson, Hakonarsson (?), Sveinsson, Gudjonsson, G. Thordarson, Olafsson, Einarsson (?), Sigurdsson (?), Hardarsson (?).
Standing: Valtisson (?) - administrator, Alfredsson, Halgrimsson (?), Akselsson, Petursson, Thorbjornsson, Engilbertsson (?), Bjornsson, Gundlandsson (?), Halldorsson, Kirbie (?) - coach.
Some national team players here, some familiar names – but one cannot be sure, for Icelandic names are quite the same – Petursson, Gudjonsson, Thordarson, so many have such names and were some of present here becoming well known professionals in Europe, or not, cannot be easily established. But no matter – IA Akranes more than compensated for not having been contenders this year: first ever Cup is a great achievement.