In our new series, International Saddlers, we are getting to know Walsall fans from across the globe to find out how they started supporting the Saddlers.
Today’s edition takes us to Iceland to meet Sölvi Haraldsson and Sigurður Davíð Betúel Sigurðsson (known as Siggy).
We found out more about their story as Saddlers fans and their desire to grow Walsall’s Icelandic supporter base.
Thank you both for joining us from Iceland! Firstly, tell us a bit about yourselves…
Solvi: “I am from Iceland and I’ve lived here all my life. I support Walsall and we went to Walsall over the Easter period. I started supporting Walsall through Siggy and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this season and the rest of our group are too. Some of you may know, we have an Icelandic Facebook group with the Icelandic Saddlers.”
Siggy: “I actually grew up in Walsall and I moved to Iceland in 2014. I am Icelandic but I grew up in Walsall so I introduced some of my friends to Walsall and that’s how we got this going.”
When you lived in Walsall, did you come to games often?
Siggy: “When I was a kid, I wasn’t that much of a football fan but I did go to some games even though I didn’t really know what was going on but now I love it.”
You moved to Iceland and introduced Solvi to the Saddlers. Solvi, how did you grow to love Walsall?
Solvi: “It all started with Siggy. I started supporting the Saddlers when they were in League One and I remember some nice games there and it just kept going. It was nice to see the spirit of the team, the fans and the players, I liked it very much. I liked the passion as well. We went to the Bescot last April to see Walsall play and it was more fun than I thought it would be. It was the game against Carlisle, who we play tomorrow, and Jack Earing scored.”
Siggy, you’ve obviously been to the Bescot before but was it a nice feeling for you to come back last season?
Siggy: “Yes, it did bring a lot of memories back. Before the game, you get the feeling that it’s a family there and I really enjoyed coming back to the Bescot.”
Solvi: “Another friend of ours came too. We also got to meet Liam Kinsella after the game as well which was the icing on the cake.”
Having watched plenty of Walsall games, what do you make of English Football outside of the Premier League, Solvi?
Solvi: “I actually enjoy the games outside the Premier League much more than in the Premier League. In Iceland, there are TV programmes that only show the Premier League and a couple of Championship games. I like the games and the competition is much more exciting outside the Premier League. The league is bigger (24 teams rather than 20), everything around the games, the competition is much bigger and I think that’s why more people in Iceland choose to watch it as well.”
You introduced Solvi to Walsall. Are you continuing to spread the word about Walsall?
Siggy: “I try to spread the word about Walsall. A lot of Icelandic people haven’t heard of Walsall. Sometimes I play as Walsall on FIFA and they’re just flabbergasted. I try to spread the word; tell them I grew up there and a lot of people have got behind it and I think we’ve done a good job at spreading the word.”
You mentioned that you have an Icelandic Walsall Facebook group. How good is it to be a part of that?
Siggy: “A lot of the people got added to the group and they didn’t actually know what it was before but now they’ve been in the group; they absolutely love Walsall. We try to be active on it and keep people posted with what is going on whether it’s the game, injury news or transfer news.”
How handy is it for you both that you can watch our games on iFollow? Do you watch them together?
Solvi: “Yes, a couple of times we watch it together. We haven’t got a monthly pass or season pass but it will come and we will buy one of those passes, we watch from game to game. It’s very good to have iFollow because the TV programmes in Iceland don’t show League One or League Two so that’s how we see Walsall play.”
What do you both make of the season so far?
Siggy: “It’s been quite up and down. It started really well with a 4-0 win then we had a bad spell but I never doubted the team in that run and it’s paying off. Sticking with Michael Flynn and keeping faith, we’re reaping the rewards of that. We beat Wycombe Wanderers who were in the Championship not so long ago so I’m optimistic for the rest of the season about maybe getting a play-off spot.”
Solvi: “I also want to add, I listened to an interview with Michael Flynn after we won our first game after the bad run of form and he got the question about the bad run and he said we were just conceding goals at the wrong time. We were in the game every time but conceding goals in stoppage time and like Michael said, at the wrong time. We have a very good squad with very good players but we’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries but now we’re seeing what we can do and we can see why he is the right man for this job.”