Saturday, 2 July 2011

The 2011 Island Games: Greenland v Åland

Radio Greenland up on the roof.
Now, this is where my very unjournalistic lack of note-taking during the matches I go to comes back to bite me, like a gooey gummy bear who's lost its dentures (hang on, wrong simile...should have mentioned crocodiles or piranhas or something...). Four games in two days, twenty goals and sundry other incidents. With one game, I can remember most of the salient points, but four...hmmm.
Lining up for the anthems. Greenland...
Luckily, nobody reads this text anyway, so I could just wibble on about the periodic table or monster truck racing, or anything really. I know people just come here to look at the pictures, so think of the next four Island Games football reports as a photo diary, okay!
...and Åland.
The first of these photo diaries is of the women's semi-final between Greenland and Åland, played at East Cowes Victoria Athletic's ground on Thursday 30th June 2011.
Singing beneath the flag.
Åland had won their qualifying group with big wins over Jersey and Hitra (5-0 and 6-0 respectively), and a 1-1 draw with the Isle of Wight. According to overheard conversations, they play together as a semi-professional outfit in the Swedish women's football league.
The team photo before kick-off.
Greenland had controversially qualified as best runners-up, with a 3-1 defeat against the Isle of Man and a rip-roaring 8-0 thumping of Gibraltar earlier in the week. This had left them with the best goal difference of the three second-placed teams, but with a worse points-per-game ratio than the Isle of Wight. The organisers must have decided that goal difference was the most important of the two factors, and through they went, with the hosts contesting the 5th/6th play-off with Saaremaa.
The match gets under way.
It was obvious from the first whistle that Åland were the better team. But whether it was nerves or misfortune, or a mixture of the two, they just couldn't break through the stubborn Greenland defence. Greenland had a couple of chances, much to their fans' delight, but the Åland keeper didn't really have a save to make. Surprisingly, it was still 0-0 at half-time.
Watching from the bench.
I don't know if they have half-time rollickings on Baltic islands, but in the second half, Åland played as though there had been some tea cup throwing going on in the dressing room. They were 3-0 up within five minutes of the restart, and it was game over. Greenland's passing game disintegrated and they started thinking about the third-place play-off and a possible bronze medal.
A Greenland flag on display behind the goal.
Both sets of fans (around 15-20 for each side in an overall crowd of 100 or so) kept cheering, but everyone knew the result was inevitable.
Åland score their second penalty of the afternoon.
The ref awarded three penalties for various misdemeanours in the box - two for Åland and one for Greenland - all of which were converted. Greenland's penalty was what they call a consolation goal, as they were already 6-0 down by then.
Åland move forward in front of the East Cowes Vics stand.
Final score: 6-1 to Åland. The match had kicked off twenty minutes late, due to the Greenlanders simply enjoying the pre-match warm-up too much, from what I could see. The officials had asked them to return to the dressing room several times, but they either didn't understand the instructions, or ignored them. This made me later than I would have been for the next match in West Cowes, but it didn't bother me too much. Slack time-keeping is too rare in modern life, and should be cherished when the opportunity arises (or so I told myself as I sat on the chain ferry pondering this, that and various other). Thus, onwards to a men's semi-final...
The final whistle blows and Åland have won!

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