February 16, 1899: Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur is founded. They are the oldest football club in Iceland. The name began as Fótboltafélag Reykjavíkur which means Reykjavik Football Club and changed to Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur which also means the same – except a literal translation for Knattspyrna is ballkicking rather than football and to the Icelandic ear, it is more elegant. The name is often shortened to KR. Since this is European football, it isn’t what Americans call football, but rather it is what we call soccer. KR is based in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital where they play home games at KR-völlur which has a seating capacity of almost 2,800.
KR is the nation’s most successful football club. They won the Úrvalsdeild championship 26 times. The championship would be akin to the US Super Bowl where the 12 Icelandic teams vie for the title. Since Iceland has such hard winters, this game is usually played in the spring or summer. The championship began in 1912, with KR winning and they are also the current holder of the title. A more international trophy is the Icelandic Cup where 72 teams compete with the mid-August game being held at Laugardalsvöllur, another stadium in Reykjavik – but this one seating 15,000 people. KR is the most successful club here, too, with 13 wins. They are not the current title holder as that honor goes to Fram, another Icelandic team which was founded in 1908.
When the team was first founded, they modeled their uniforms on those worn by Newcastle United, the British football club founded in 1892. Like their British counterparts, the home uniform is black shorts and socks with a black and white vertically striped shirt. Unlike Newcastle, KR’s away game colors are white shorts with an orange shirt and orange socks. For nearly a decade, there were no other clubs in Reykjavik, but as soon as Fram was founded, competitions with championships were mentioned. The first time they played, KR won. Because there are only 12 teams in the top division of Iceland football, they each play the other 11 teams twice, once at home and once away.
The Icelandic league was divided into two divisions in 1955 and once again KR took the winners spot. KR was the first Iceland team to play in the European Cup and did so with the 1964-65 season. They lost in a preliminary round to Liverpool with a score of 11-1. KR won their 20th title in 1968. They were demoted to the Second Division in 1977 and had narrow losses in 1990, 1996, and 1998. As they turned 100 years old in 1999 they had not won a league title for 31 years. On this milestone year, they won against Vikingur with a score 4-0 to make it to the top spot where they beat IA with a 3-1 score. They were back on a winning streak.
Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple. – Johan Cruijff
I’m a rock star because I couldn’t be a soccer star. – Rod Stewart
When I was ten, I wrote an essay on what I would be when I grew up and said I would be a professional soccer player and a comedian in off season. – Will Ferrell
I never felt the same passion for the game in the States and there were a lot of headaches, a lot of obstacles to overcome – it didn’t just run itself for the love of the game because soccer is not the No. 1 sport as it is in Europe. – Hope Solo
Also on this day: King Tut – In 1923, Howard Carter opened the tomb of King Tutankhamen.
Nylon – In 1937. Nylon was patented.
Altmark Incident – In 1940, the German ship, Altmark, was boarded by cutlass wielding soldiers.
What Is our Emergency? – In 1968, 9-1-1 service began.