Plane crazy for blues

The Glenavon players waiting at the airport.
The Glenavon players waiting at the airport.

After two cancelled flights and an unplanned overnight stop in Nottingham, Glenavon finally arrived in Iceland at lunchtime on Wednesday for their first leg Europa League tie.

Their preparations were thrown into chaos when the initial Flybe flight from Belfast City was cancelled due to technical issues, but despite getting the later flight to Birmingham the connecting flight to Iceland had already been cancelled meaning an overnight stay in Nottingham.

Andrew McConnell, director of communications at Flybe, said: “Once we heard of the importance of getting the team to Iceland we were going to hold the flight back in Birmingham. However, because of bad weather in Iceland that flight too was cancelled. We met the team when they arrived and brought them to a hotel and also chartered a much bigger plane, a 737, to take them to Reykjavík on Wednesday morning.”

Coach Nigel Law said it has been ‘frustrating’ but that they would use the delay to their advantage.

“The squad had to travel by coach for over an hour to spend the night in a hotel in Nottingham city centre. We are due to arrive in Iceland around lunctime before training at the stadium this evening in Hafnarfjörður,” said Nigel.

Manager Gary Hamilton, who arrived in Iceland on Monday, was far from pleased with the travel drama.

“I think it would have been better for Flybe to charter the plane on Tuesday night and fly the team direct to Iceland from Belfast without an overnight stay. The lads only had four hours sleep. It is not the ideal way to prepare for a huge game,” said Gary from the hotel in Iceland.

“It was going to be tough enough without this happening. We will just try and get the boys relaxed and focused again.”

Gary is hoping the quality in his team will make all the difference on Thursday night.

The Lurgan Blues face a very difficult task against Hafnarfjörður, unbeaten and top of their domestic league, in the first leg of their Europa League tie.

“You never know in football. It’s a game in which you look to the real quality in the team. In Guy Bates and Kevin Braniff we have players who, if on their game, can make the vital difference with an away goal. “You only have to look at the World Cup and Brazil, they have Neymar whose quality is crucial for them and makes such a massive difference. Our opponents will be much fitter than us because of where they are in the league season and we have to work our socks off. We need a big team performance but I feel Guy and Kevin can play a big part.”