Home 2011 – Fana Sports

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The country

Commonly known as “where?”, the British overseas territory of Anguilla sits at the northern edge of the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles chain in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The island first fell under the gaze of European eyes around 1493 courtesy of the much-vaunted but curiously inept explorer Mr Christopher Columbus, who named it “eel island” as he thought it to be shaped like an eel (it isn’t), ventured inland assuming he would find lush ecological wonders (he didn’t) before swanning off to other undiscovered corners of the new world, all the time thinking himself to be in India (he wasn’t.)

Following this brief dalliance with geographically confused Italians, Anguilla ultimately fell into British hands and has been a dependency since 1650. This long association is aptly reflected in the country’s flag (see above) which features the Union Jack on the upper hoist side, while the three dead goldfish in the shield represent the peoples’ proficiency at traditional fairground games as well as their tendency to overfeed the prizes.

In fact Anguillans may even have become a little TOO British over the centuries. In 1967, during the island’s one attempt at insurrection (following an unpopular union with St Kitts), the occupying forces were expelled not through gunfire or mob rule in the streets but by being politely asked to leave, which they did. The subsequent “Republic of Anguilla” lasted just two years before the UK acted – or , quite possibly noticed – sending in a squad made up primarily of Metropolitan Police officers who restored order, re-established British rule and treated any shifty individual to a hat-trick of hellos and a damn good kicking.

Now, it’s tempting to assume that a tiny Caribbean island with no professional players and a population (roughly 13,000) that could fit into Wembley Stadium nearly seven times over might be pretty hopeless on the international stage, and you would be absolutely correct to think this. Anguilla became affiliated to FIFA in 1996 at a time when the governing body had flung their doors wide open and were hoovering up new members more aggressively than a personal trainer outside a branch of Greggs. Unfortunately, like the portly cream cake connoisseur who suffers a simultaneous stitch, hernia and heart attack during his first (and last) go on the treadmill, the Anguillans and their fellow small fry weren’t really prepared for anything as strenuous as full international football, instead eking out an existence as a mere goal difference enhancer for bigger fish.

To their credit Anguilla are certainly no quitters even if, results considering, they should probably give it some serious consideration.        The national team has entered every World Cup since 2002 and have fallen at the first preliminary hurdle every time, posting aggregate defeats against the Bahamas (5-2), Dominican Republic (6-0), El Salvador (16-0), Dominican Republic – again (6-0 – again) and, most recently, Nicaragua (8-0).

Nor has the regional Caribbean Cup tournament proved much gentler. Lop-sided losses to Trinidad & Tobago (10-0), Guyana (14-0) and Grenada (14-1) have, over the years, cemented the team to the arse end of both the FIFA and CONCACAF rankings. On the bright(ish) side, Anguilla do have a couple of competitive victories in the bag, both coming in Caribbean Cup qualifiers where they beat the ever-hapless Montserrat 4-1 in 2001 and non-FIFA member Saint Martin 2-1 in 2010.

The shirt

Honestly, I’d never heard of Fana Sports before I bought this shirt. All I could divulge from a brief perusal of their website is that they’re Canadian and, to my complete and utter lack of surprise, they mostly dabble in the hustle and tussle, blood and guts, missing teeth extravaganza that is ice hockey. Quite how they came to supply such an obscure team from such a tiny island – especially as Anguilla appear to be their only national football clients – is beyond me, but this as least lends the shirt a somewhat unique quality amidst my various box-loads of Adidas, Nike et al.

The shirt features subtle dancing dolphins around the number, which are a nice touch and the blue and white –  with a touch of green- makes for an aesthetically pleasing colour combination. The only real complaint I have is that the badge is printed within the material which always feels a bit cheap. It’s also worth noting that, in a refreshing change of pace, this design (or one very similar) and its orange away counterpart appear to have been in use for at least five years now, not that I imagine there’s a busting load of Anguilla fans for Fana to rip off by churning out a new shirt every season.




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