More on that football

Iceland’s some 330,000 people. Bath and North East Somerset is some 180,000 people. We could regard them as being roughly equal in size.

Thus last night’s football is roughly the equivalent of the BANES team beating the national one.

No, that wouldn’t actually work, would not happen. Bath City FC is somewhere down in the Beazer Home Leagues Division 7 South West or something.

Bath RFC however used to be something different. There’s been a good decade of my lifetime when you’d have happily taken 50/50 odds on the BANES team being able to beat the national one. Actually, pretty much any national one.

18 thoughts on “More on that football”

  1. The Meissen Bison

    Iceland’s population is equivalent to one year’s immigration into the UK.

    Pick up a team in the arrivals lounge.

  2. Co-ordination, knowing what the next guy will do. You see it in any team that’s around together enough. That’s why these tiny countries sometimes do well. They haven’t got people from 7 clubs, sometimes players who don’t often get a 1st team start, whose clubs won’t release them for national duty because they’re very expensive.

  3. This wouldn’t happen in a high-scoring sport. Football is notorious for 1-0 or 2-1 upsets, because so few goals are scored in a game. In American sports (baseball, basketball, American football) the scores are typically much higher, reaching into the 100s for basketball.

    Whether that makes association football any better or worse is entirely subjective.

  4. Will anyone join me in sending a petition to Parliament to insist on replaying last night’s match and refusing to accept any result where the winning team scores fewer than 4 goals and is not leading by at least 2 goals at the final whistle?

    According to the BBC and the Guardian the Icelanders are beginning to regret winning and, had they known the full facts before the match, would have given England a 2-goal start.

  5. Beat any Nation’s rugby team, ahem, one Kiwi would like to suggest that’s just a tad hyperbolic. Munster did, once.

  6. Iceland pissed all over England. In a higher scoring sport their winning margin would be even higher. They deserved to win 3-1 last night. England were a rabble.

  7. Munster did, once.

    As did the mighty Newport. The convention is that club/provincial sides don’t play the country, but “The Australians” or “The All Blacks”. I remember Lanelli and Swansea beating the Australians in the space of a week, but Wales still got hammered by Australia.

  8. Let’s not forget, the Iceland team was made up mostly of amateurs, while England’s was professional football players with no other job (sponsorship appearances don’t count). Even the Iceland coach is a professional dentist.

    You clearly DON’T get what you pay for!

  9. Andrew M,

    “Whether that makes association football any better or worse is entirely subjective.”

    I think it’s part of the appeal. You can go and see your minnows play a Premiership side and know that they might win. One lucky break and it happens. You don’t get that with say, the best rugby club playing the bottom of the league club.

  10. JuliaM

    Actually the Iceland players are professionals – there are no pro teams in Iceland but most of the squad play in the Scandinavian professional leagues, with a few elsewhere. And football is at least a major sport in Iceland even with no pro team there – they watch professional football on tv and there is big grassroots development effort there (lots of indoor pitches!). They also had the advantage of regular play together during qualification – with a limited player base that must do wonders for team ethic, communication and understanding. No luxury of chopping and changing your squad every other match, and constantly meddling with players and positions – a temptation best avoided.

    For my money this does make this defeat less humiliating than the loss to USA in 1950 – that was to a side that really did play a lower level of football, and where the sport was a very minor one (only one US reporter covered the match if I recall correctly).


    For context, that US team mostly played in amateur/semipro leagues, had regular jobs, and the team was only thrown together at the last moment so didn’t have Iceland’s advantages of familiarity and organisation.

    The humiliation being compounded by the high expectations on England to win the 1950 tournament – losing to Iceland isn’t good, but most observers would have expected an exit in the next round anyway, and the chances of reaching and winning the semifinal in this half of the draw were rated as very low. Not that this will cheer anybody up much! But if you’re not a passionate fan the humour value is considerable. Or at least, the hubris.

  12. The match reminded me of the good old days, watching Manchester City playing Port Vale, Stockport County, and other highly esteemed sides back in division 3, round about turn of the century (makes me feel old now).

  13. First time that I can remember in any sport that an England team has been beaten in an international competition by a country with an adult population smaller than the England captain’s weekly wages.

  14. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I am struggling manfully to give a shit about a gang of ridiculous nancies getting stuffed by the team from a small, desolate mid-Atlantic island but try as I might, I can’t.

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