First of all it was a pleasure to welcome 8 members of this historic Reykjavic club, led by Halldor Einarsson, on a short visit to England, including a tour of The National Football Museum, tickets at The Theatre of Dreams for Manchester United v Watford and to a warm welcome from Chairman Richard Tims at Sheffield FC, 'Where Football Kicked Off in 1857.www.sheffieldfc.com.
Valur were founded in 1911 and the name means a type of falcon bird. Their home is at Hlidarendi an old farm that they bought in 1930, and a free kick away from Reykjavic City Airport, used for domestic flights. Since 2007 the club has been sponsored by Vodafone who claimed the stadium naming rights VODAFONEVOLLURIN. and the handball/basketball arena in the same complex VODAFONEEHOLLIN. On my visit to Iceland last September I went to 6 matches in 6 days and the first day went to watch Valur lose at home. www.valur.is
On the campus is an old farm building, a barn, which they are converting into a clubhouse and while in England we went to a gigantic antique furniture warehouse at Empire House in Failsworth...all the antiques and junk you can imagine. They were looking for antique padded furniture and display cases in particular for their new clubhouse.
I read an interesting story in 'The Times' last week about the only time that Eric Cantona put on the blue and white stripes of Sheffield Wedbesday. It was January 29th 1992. The 25 year old Marseilles native had made himself unwelcome in France. He had punched team mates at Auxerre and Montpellier, Kung-fu kicked a Nantes player and swore at national coach Henri Michel on live TV. Wednesday player manager Trevor Francis had been asked by Michel Platini to give 'Mad Eric'..'Eric Le Brat' a trial. The weather was horrible in South Yorkshire with no outdouor grass training possible. Along come The Baltimore Blast coached by Kenny Cooper to the rescue.
On a short tour that also included Manchester and a tournament in Birmingham, the Americans from the MISL played a 6 a side match with Wednesday ; 4 x 15 minute periods,and they were not used to quick changes and balls off walls. They lost 8-3 with Texan Rusty Troy scoring a hat trick to claim the match ball. Nobody was allowed to swap jerseya with Eric. His team mates that day included Chris Woods, Danny Wilson, Viv Anderson, Paul Warhurst, Carlton Palmer, Chris Bart-Williams, David Johnson, Gordon Wallace, John Harkes, Graham Hyde, Nigel Worthington, Travor Francis. Cantona had already checked out of his hotel before the match and within a week had signed for Leeds United and manager Howard Wilkinson.
They won the old first division that season, the last before The Premier League was formed. Later that year he was traded to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United for just £1 million and in 5 seasons at Old Trafford won 4 Premier League titles, and two league and cup doubles.
It was sad to read about another African stadium disaster, this time in Angola. In the northern city of Uige 17 fans died in a stampede and hundreds were injured.. The crowd stormed the gates of the stadium where Santa Rita de Cassia were hosting top team Recreativo do Libolo in a first division 'GIRABOLA' league match. 'A tragedy without precedent in the history of Angolan football' said the Recreativo website, A couple of years ago in Manchester I met officials from the club who presented me with one of their orange and blue scarves. The 8,000 capacity stadium evidently only had a couple of security guards present.
The match was played with Recreativo winning 1-0. www.recreativolibolo.com. Recreativo's stadium was recently re-named Estadio Patrice Lumumba after the murdered Congolese leader, with the involvement of Belgian and US CIA Larry Devlin, station chief for the Congo and on the orders of CIA chief Alan Dulles and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.