Saturday, 17 July 2010

Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur (Iceland)

Now I'm sure that you must think Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur means something exciting and evocative of the wild rocky wastes of Iceland when translated into English. Well sadly it doesn't. It actually stands for the rather prosaic Reykjavík Football Club - although their full name is so long and complicated that even the locals refer to them as simply KR.

Formed in 1899, they are the oldest club on the island - and with that longevity comes success. Since winning the innaugral national championship in 1912, they've gone on to win it a massive total of 24 times, with an extra 11 Icelandic Cup wins under their belt to go along with them. After their first win, they proclaimed that they would from there on in play in the colours of whoever won the English league that season - which just happened to be Newcastle United.

They were also the first Icelandic club to play in Europe, playing Liverpool in 1964 in a game that was also the Reds' international tournament debut. Their best run in Europe came however in the 2009/10 Champions League, where they beat AE Larissa of Greece in the second qualifying round, before going on to be beaten by FC Basel in the next round.

They've flitted around the grounds in the coourse of their history before settling on their current home at the KR-Völlur Stadium. They spent years at the old Melavöllur municipal ground, before moving on to Laugardalsvöllur, the national stadium. They currently average gates of around 2500 - which might not sound like a huge number for the all time national champions. But how many other clubs can claim that at least 1% of their population turn up to their home games every other week?

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