Insight Into A Journey To The Unknown
Faroes Recollections Of Wolves And Canada Favourite
Les Wilson has been reflecting on his own football experience in the Faroe Islands as Wolves prepare to discover whether they will be heading for one of the game’s European outposts in three weeks’ time.
Nuno’s squad will learn a week on Thursday whether they head north to take on B36 Torshavn or across the Irish Sea to face Crusaders in their first Europa Cup assignment.
And Wilson, who has been eulogising over the form of Raul Jimenez in the Concacaf Gold Cup triumph completed by Mexico over the weekend, was happy to share his thoughts on what might be awaiting his old club.
“I well remember travelling to the Faroe Islands and Iceland with Canadian national sides 30 years or so ago and a number of training facilities and stadiums had plastic surfaces or ‘field turf’,” he said.
“I would guess that the stadium our B team played at in the Faroe Islands had a plastic surface, which makes a massive difference to playing on natural grass.
“I believe we took part in the first international game ever played by the Faroe Islands, who were part of UEFA. The flight from Denmark was some four hours, I believe, and it was very cold at times and windy when we arrived in Torshavn, the capital and largest city.”
Wilson recalls a certain rustic feel to the trip, adding: “Bruce Twamley and I were sharing a room and Bruce woke up startled as two sheep were poking their heads through our ground-floor window.
“We went for a long run before training. The landscape was awesome, a little scary even because it felt ghostly with the massive cliffs down to the ocean. We felt we were in the middle of nowhere in the North Atlantic Ocean – it seemed like the end of the world!
“I arranged some friendlies for Canada from April to June in 1989, mostly thorough Jim Stjerne Hansen, the secretary general of the Danish FA, whose favourite English team was Wolverhampton Wanderers. What a nice coincidence!
“We lost to Denmark in Aalborg and our B team went down 1-0 to the Faroe Islands in front of a 5,000 crowd.
“We faced them again two days later and their small stadium was full to the brim once more. This time we won 1-0.
“If Wolves turn out to be playing Torshavn, I would suggest they would send someone there, say, one week prior to the game to check out training grounds, hotels, meals etc.
“In 1989, I travelled in with Jim Stjerne Hansen in advance to check all the facilities, the flight times, weather conditions, state of the training facilities, the stadium pitch and dressing rooms, plus the hotels, meals and transportation
“It is the old adage, the seven P’s of life and sport – proper prior preparation prevents p-poor performances.
“I learned while managing Canada in games in the Concacaf Region of Central America and the Caribbean in particular that these countries would try anything to win. One has to be canny, far-sighted and cautious.
“But the Faroe Islands team, country and people treated us Canadians with nothing but class and respect and looked after us all in a very professional manner – a good hotel made all the difference.
“I am sure that the Wolves will be foresighted and prepare well if the draw takes them there.”
Crusaders, who welcome Torshavn to Belfast this Thursday, have announced that they have up to 70 seats available for supporters for the return leg at a subsidised cost of £200 return.