It wasn’t Fearghal Sharkey, Norman Whiteside or Colin Clarke that got me into supporting Northern Ireland. It was my Dad. My Dad, Joe Blair is a veteran of over 200 Northern Ireland matches down the years. He dare not count them, but in the past 50 years he’d only miss a home game in an emergency.
Van Morrison once had a quote “Back on top again”.
Win, draw or…lose (and let’s be truth – every match we play could end in any of those three ways – we are unpredictable). But the Faroe Islands seemed to be a match that Northern Irish fans thought we might win. It was essential for qualifying for the Euros so the team was in top form and had extra training ahead of the match in Torshavn, the nation’s capital city.
“We love the country so much” – Northern Ireland fans
As a football fan of Northern Ireland, the results can be unpredictable. One week beating Spain and the next week losing to Iceland. It’s a crazy team to support. In fact, we lost 2-0 to Azerbaijan and then drew 1-1 away in Israel. Steven Davis scored. We are proud of this team.
“We’ve been to Sweden, Spain and Mexico. Drinking all over the world” – Status Quo made into a GAWA song
We daren’t expect anything. A 0-0 with Romania in June (which I watched in Hong Kong with Roger from Bushmills) set us up nicely, win in the Faroe Islands and we could be top of the group. Oh really? Aye – but this is Norn Iron. We’re the best and worst team to follow emotion wise.
After a few days backpacking through the main sights on Vagar Island to places like Sorvagur and Gasadalur, we headed on a party bus to the capital city of Torshavn. In Torshavn we were expected to meet up with the rest of the GAWA, (the Green and White Army) and party. We could see the Bangor, Hillsborough and Lisburn lads in Cafe Nature. The place was bouncing mad.
The usual crowd was here in force – all partying in either Cafe Natur or Glitnir bar. It’s like a community of followers when you support Northern Ireland. It’s all a bit crazy. The fans like Toddy, Glenda, Shaun Schofield, Jonny Blair, Karen Turkington, Sinti, they were all here to party in Toshavn. It was five years ago that La La Lafferty had bagged a goal in a 1-1 draw, at the time that was a shock result.
Inside the bar there was a lot of music on the go. It was mostly organised by 1982 World Cup Espana veteran Jim Rainey. He was a marvellous DJ for the Northern Ireland fans. This was in Cafe Natur, but just a few streets away some other boys were belting out classic tunes on the decks – such as Sweet Caroline, as played by Andrew Moby Milliken and Justin from Ballyclare.
The Northern Ireland fans sang “everywhere we go it’s the Ulster boys making all the noise”
It was time for the big match and we don’t win many away matches – the home wins are important, but it is the away wins that are the clinchers. In the 1980s we beat Romania 1-0 and then even got a 0-0 draw in England, which are really good results and helped our qualification for the World Cup.
“She never told me her name” – Tim Wheeler