There has never been a better time to be a football fan in the Faroes – apart from, arguably, that day back in September 1990 when the ‘Landsli∂i∂’ famously beat Austria 1-0.
Decided on a goal by Torkil Nielsen on 61 minutes, the game was played in Landskrona, Sweden.
Today, with the Faroes standing higher in the FIFA world rankings than ever before, mainly thanks to home-and-away wins over Greece in Euro 2016 qualifying, the national side run out at the Tórsvøllur stadium, floodlights and all, in the main town of Tórshavn.
In fact, the stadium complex in Gundadalur, just north of the town centre, links back to the earliest football matches on these islands, set halfway between Iceland, Scotland and Norway. The country’s most successful club, HB Tórshavn, have been based here for a century or more.
Founded in 1904, HB were founding members of the Faroese League, inaugurated in 1942 but suspended two years later because of the British occupation. Thereafter, the first champions from the capital were HB’s great rivals B36, also based at Gundadalur.
Between them, HB and B36 have won 32 titles, the White Tigers of B36 having been crowned in 2014 and in line to repeat the feat in 2015.
The national side has an equally long tradition, far longer than the groundbreaking victory of 1990 suggests. Sixty years before, as planet football was focused on the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay, the Faroes were playing a series of friendlies in the Shetland Islands, a 14-hour sea crossing just as daunting as the one that took European teams off to Montevideo.
A few years later, Glasgow firm Adam & Co sponsored a trophy, the Adam Shield, between the island rivals, later known as the North Atlantic Cup. As ferries gave way to planes, so the Faroes moved up a gear in the football world, gaining FIFA status in 1988.
A home pitch, on grass not gravel (how did the Shetlands play those challenge matches?), was created at Svangaskar∂ at Toftir, shortly after the Austria game. Ten years later, a national stadium was created at Gundadalur, Tórsvøllur.
The Faroes carried on played out qualifying tournaments every two years, avoiding basketball scores against the likes of Germany, Italy and France.
Another 61st-minute goal changed all that, scored by Jóan Edmundsson in Piraeus. The Faroes followed up the shock win in November 2014 by beating Greece again, 2-1 at Tórsvøllur, in June 2015.
A local taxi (+298 32 32 32) charges Dkr190 for up to three passengers to Tórshavn.
Local hotels such as the Hafnia also provide a shuttle service.
Tórshavn is walkable – nowhere is more than 15-20min away. City buses are otherwise free.
Danish krone are accepted everywhere and credit-card payment is widespread.
The recently renovated three-star Hotel Tórshavn, with lovely views of the harbour, also contains the popular brasserie Hvonn. One star up, the business-friendly Hafnia is where you’ll find the Kafe Kaspar.
A notch above, just outside town overlooking Tórshavn, the Hotel Føroyar was designed with panoramic views and the summer light in mind.
Close to the bus and ferry terminals, the newbie Streym is handy and functional.
With the closure of the Manhattan, bar choices are very limited in Tórshavn.
Pick of the bunch is the late-opening Sirkus near the marina, with TV football, concerts and DJs. It stays open until midnight during the weekend, 4am Fridays and Saturdays.
Another port of call might be the standard Irish Pub, open all day except evening-only Sundays, where Guinness, Caffrey’s and Kilkenny are served on draught.
The popular Café Natúr (Áarvegur 7) is a coffeehouse by day and busy pub by night, with an affordable kitchen.
At the hotels Tórshavn and Hafnia, the Hvonn and Kafe Kaspar provide a civilised spot for a daytime drink.