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Saturday, January 30, 2021


The tentacles of the Coronavirus have reached almost every corner of the world, including Greenland, and ensured that the country's footballers had no national championship to aim for this year. But, the Coronavirus didn't stop the country's governing body, the KAK, appointing a new national manager at the start of August.

Morten Rutkjær might not be a household name outside Denmark, but many people in Greenland will be well-acquainted with him as a result of his playing career in Denmark, and also because he worked as a scout for a time for the American-based Soccer Institute of Montverde Academy, which has a partnership with Orlando City, covering both the US and Greenland.

The forty-six year-old, known to many in the Danish game as Rudi, began his football career at under-age level, winning one international cap for Denmark's under-19s whilst at Lyngby, before signing for Holbæk BI in 1992. A year later, he joined one of the country's most famous clubs, B93, before moving on to Frem in 1999. He was on the move again twelve months later when he signed for Hørsholm-Usserød in the Sjællandserien regional league (level five in the Danish pyramid), where he lined up alongside none other than Brian Laudrup for a period. Rutkjær eventually hung up his boots in 2007, having spent all but one year of his career outside the Superliga.

Rutkjær didn't stay inactive for very long. He joined Nordvest (now Holbæk B&I) as a youth-team trainer in 2007 until 2011, when he became manager of Vanløse in 2011 before he and the club parted ways in 2013. He then worked as a scout for an Orlando-based college (SIMA), covering the United States and Greenland, before going back to Holbæk B&I in 2015, which had taken over Nordvest's professional licence the year before. (Nordvest was actually Holbæk's professional wing, but had become defunct.) Rutkjær took over as reserve-team manager there, and also began work at the the DBU, the Danish FA, as an instructor, and later as a talent coach concentrating on under-16 players.

He then went back to his two previous clubs, B93 - where he spent the 2015-16 season as first-team manager - and Frem, where he was assistant manager to Danny Jung. After two years at the Valby Idrætspark, where he picked up his UEFA PRO trainers' licence, Rutkjær returned to B93 in 2019, but left to become Head of Coaching, academy manager and chief talent scout at the Holbæk Sportsakademi, where he worked alongside former Faroese international Christian Holst, who is the academy's Head of Education.

And then, Greenland came calling, and it was a call Rutkjær couldn't ignore. The job of national team manager had been vacant since the departure of Tekle Ghebrelul for Sweden, and the KAK hadn't found the right man for the job until Rutkjær became available. He had, of course, spent time as a scout in the country, and got to know the country's football scene like the back of his hand. This would not have been lost on the KAK. In any case, it didn't take long for the Greenlanders to sound out Rutkjær, and it took still less time for the Dane to accept the manager's job: "I was asked if I wanted the job. I said yes in one second," he said.

He signed a one-year, part-time contract until after the 2021 Island Games were due to take place in Guernsey, but the Coronavirus put paid to those plans when the Island Games Association postponed the biennial event until 2023. His answer to the question of whether the KAK will extend his contract until at least 2023 was short and to the point: "I don't know. But," he continued, "I hope I can get the chance to be Greenland national coach for many years so that I can help to lift the standard of football. I see so many possibilities in Greenlandic football."

"The Island Games is one thing, of course. To build up the Greenland national team, to help the players get into better shape, and to build up a style of play for the national team are also all very interesting [challenges]."

Rutkjær will continue to be based in Denmark - he is married and has five children, so is understandably reluctant to move lock, stock and barrel over to Nuuk, and, of course, he already has a full-time job at Holbæk's sports academy - but plans to travel several times to Greenland between now and the summer. "The plan is that I travel six or seven times to Greenland so that the team can be together and train together."

Rutkjær hasn't let the grass - artificial or otherwise - grow under his feet since becoming Greenland manager last August. He visited Nuuk, Maniitsoq and Ilulissat a matter of days after his appointment, and his first impressions of the current set-up in Greenland, regarding both players and infrastructure, were very positive indeed: "I was very impressed with the football pitches the clubs [together with the municipalities] have built. The players are very good. I will try to get the national side to train hard to get into good condition. It is also my hope that the [Nuukstadion] will get a roof so that the players can train all year round."

The KAK have tended to concentrate on developing Futsal in the country during the last few years, but Rutkjær's appointment will be seen as a shift in emphasis bt the custodians of the Greenlandic game. He said that "the KAK really want to get the outside game back [to its traditional pre-eminence] in Greenland. So, it was a new start for them by hiring me. Now it's my responsibility to build up a good team and create a culture around the national team."

In October, the KAK appointed Nukannguaq Zeeb as Rutkjær's assistant manager. Zeeb, former captain of Greenland and someone who needs no introduction to anyone in Greenlandic football, spent most of his career with G-44 and played at four Island Games tournaments, the most recent taking place in Gotland in 2017. Zeeb now lives in the Faroe Islands, but will be travelling to Greenland to assist Rutkjær, who told Sermitisaq newspaper that it was important that his assistant was someone professionally skilled who was well-acquainted with the game in Greenland.

At the same time as Zeeb was appointed, the KAK also brought in Morten Hamm, UEFA A coach and a former Superliga player, as video analyst, which really is a first - and something which heralds a sea-change - in Greenlandic football culture. Rutkjær worked with the former Hvidovre, Viborg and Frem player at Nordvest, and said that Hamm's appointment was important in order to analyse the players and to improve their individual performances. "It is of great importance for the positive development for Greenlandic football that a foundation is built, that there is a strong team around the national team. Here, the coaches in the clubs are important, but also the the team and specialists around the team", Rutkjæer told Sermitsiaq.

Rutkjæer, who lists spending time with his family and friends, running and travelling amongst his hobbies, will be doing a fair bit of the latter between Denmark and Greenland over the next few months if the Coronavirus allows, but he hopes to be doing much more of the same in the next few years on KAK duty if he gets his way. The Island Games might be out of the question, at least for now, but he hopes that his team will play UEFA opposition such as Iceland and the Faroe Islands. And that's not all. He has an ambition which might surprise one or two people: for Greenland to join CONCACAF, and not UEFA as has always previously been mooted.

"My plan is for Greenland to play lots of games against good opposition, so that the Greenland team - and the public - will have some good experiences. [We can] hopefully be a part of the CONCACAF League, and part of CONCACAF, maybe in a year or two. In my opinion, this is very important for the the players to have something to look forward to. If they get to play these matches, the players will get better. That's my ambition, and all shall end well if it's possible."


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Morten Rutkjær for his help in assisting with the above article. Any errors or omissions shall, of course, be gladly amended. All photos supplied by Morten Rutkjær.

Friday, January 1, 2021


Over the past few years, the fine art of blogging has been pushed aside by, amongst others, vloggers, podcasters and Instagram accounts all aiming for the general public's attention on social media, and, quite often, the bank-card in the collective wallet as well. The patient, written word has been pushed aside in favour of the perhaps visually more attractive but increasingly breathless, inane and vacuous goings-on of folk on camera, many of whom started out as bloggers but who have become sole traders.

That is all well and good, and many people will be of the opinion that times change and that social media must change with it, including how a message is delivered. But, I'm still someone who prefers reading a book to perusing an Ebook, and will rather listen to a CD than to YouTube (although I do both with relish), and will rather read a blog than watch someone rabbit on about something which doesn't interest me.

The trouble is, blogs - and good blogs, in particular - are becoming increasingly rare. Even the Football Blogging Awards are now called the Football Content Awards, and blogs are increasingly hard to find in amongst the bells and whistles from vloggers, podcasters and other content creators. For a while now, I'd thought about creating a one-off process solely aimed at raising the profile of small-scale bloggers, and recently hit upon hosting a virtual vote and, in a moment of blinding originality, calling the whole thing the Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards. I also wanted to give a leg up for categories other awards operations normally ignore, such as football shirts, Subbuteo, walking football, match programme reviews and so on.

Most of the nominations, including some which had to be rejected, were known to me, but quite a few weren't. Some of them were rejected because they plainly weren't blogs, but websites. It's quite difficult to accept a nomination when a website describes itself as a website.. 

Others were rejected because they sought payment in return for access to certain articles, or because they published a magazine to complement their site; they are no longer blogs in my eyes, but businesses. Still others were refused consideration because they were essentially podcasts or vlogs, or used video interviews or podcast material to an over-large degree. 

One or two people were put out by their nominations being refused, but I wanted to give a chance to pur sang bloggers (and this was explained to them at length), although I did try to give those blogs which used match highlights a bit of leeway. 

The Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards was a small-scale operation for small-scale blogs, and the number of people who voted reflected this, but, pleasingly, a number of blogs did attract new followers and get some welcome exposure. That was the whole objective of the exercise. I also discovered several new blogs and got to know several more a bit better, and every one of those blogs (and websites and podcasts) nominated had a lot to offer and are well worth delving into.

There were originally twelve categories for which nominations were accepted, with a minimum of two nominations per category needed in order for a public vote to go ahead. In the end, nine categories were opened; no nominations were received for the Subbuteo, Walking Football and Non-English Language categories.


GENERAL: The 94th Minute; Gareth's Football Travels; The Left-sided Problem; The Lonely Goalpost; Jimmy Sirrel's Lovechild; And Still Ricky Villa; A Sticker's Worth 500 Words; The Welsh Goalkeeper

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession; World Shirts; Soccer Sartorial; Adam's Shirt Quest

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: AFE Football News; The 94th Minute; The Terrace Traveller; The Welsh Goalkeeper; The Cold End; Gareth's Football Travels

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: Gareth's Football Travels; English Abroad, Far Out Football; The Cold End; Playing Away From Home; Living In Montserrat; Menorca Football; Pasifika Sisters

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem; The Soccer Mentor; A Sticker's Worth 500 Words; The Welsh Goalkeeper

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller; Manchopper's Ventures; Gareth's Football Travels; Topliss At The Turnstiles

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Pasifika Sisters; This Fan Girl; Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Pasifika Sisters; Living In Montserrat

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels; The Cold End; Jimmy Sirrel's Lovechild

On to the results of the public vote, and, in the main, those who won their respective categories were deserving of their finishing top of the pile, and the list of winners is below. Many congratulations to them all!


GENERAL: The 94th Minute

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession


NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Living In Montserrat

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: The Terrace Traveller

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels

I had a good look at the nominations before, during and after the voting, and decided that I would give my own "awards" in addition to the public vote; a kind of "Patman's Choice", if you will. One or two results are a little different to those of the public vote, but my choices are purely personal, of course, and might radically differ from the PFBBA proper. I also wanted to recognise one or two blogs with virtual awards away from any voting process.

My own choices allied mainly with the public vote, with Clint Jones' 94th Minute coming top of the General category because of a wonderfully eclectic mix of writing matter, written in Clint's own inimitable style. The Global Obsession wins the Football Shirt section, but by a whisker from Adam's Shirt Quest and Sartorial Soccer. 

My choice of Menorca Football for the International Interest category might surprise a few people, but I like what they are trying to do in promoting football in an ignored and overlooked corner of footballing Spain, and it is comprehensive in its approach. The Left-sided Problem concentrates on top-level football, but with more of a historical bent, and does so comprehensively. It deserved the New Blogs award, but The Soccer Mentor, A Sticker's Worth 500 Words and The Welsh Goalkeeper are original in their outlook, and all four are worth reading (and following). I see much potential here.

All four nominations for the Groundhopping category have lots of plus points, but no-one does it quite like The Terrace Traveller. Those of you who know his work won't need any further explanation. Those who don't just have to head over to his blog to understand why. 

Only three blogs made it through to be nominated for the Women's Football section; This Fan Girl seemed to have shut down for Christmas, as had Pasifika Sisters, and neither took an active part in promoting their chances, but both offer interesting reading matter (on radically different areas of the women's game) and are well worth following. Terry McFadden's Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football is a down-to-earth blog with few frills but lots of good articles and match-reports, which in the main shine a much-needed spotlight on lower-league women's football in England, and made him a deserving winner in a small but high-standard field.

Just two blogs took part in the Non-FIFA/Minnows poll, which was won by Living In Montserrat. The name correctly suggests that it's more than a football blog, but Craig Brewin's blog was given a chance due to it being the only blog I know which reports regularly on football-matters Montserratian (and it's worth checking out for other bits and pieces to do with life on the Caribbean island). Pasifika Sisters, meanwhile, is a relatively new blog, which covers women's football in the OFC region and elsewhere in the Pacific, and does it well. I couldn't decide between the two; a joint award it is.

Gareth's Football Travels won the public Match Programme Reviews award, and wins this one, too, but it was a close thing between Mr. Williams and The Cold End for Patman's Choice. Both are very informative, but Gareth breaks down the content and gives his articles a little more of a personal touch.

Still, if you're looking for a blog which would be the ultimate representative for English non-league football, you would be hard-pressed to find a generally better, more comprehensive, more informative one than The Cold End, and author Barry has been keeping up the same high standard for years. I only hope he finds the time to add to his programme (and other) writings, some of which he hasn't done in a while, and can also find space on his home page to showcase his articles on the Belarussian Premier League. I think he was robbed in the UK & Ireland Non-league public vote, but he's Patman's Choice in this category, and by a distance.

Because of the astounding amount of top-quality work Barry has produced since 2009, making him one of the longest-serving bloggers I know of (a year longer than yours truly), he richly deserves a PFB award for Services to Blogging, such as it is. I recommend his work in writing about and promoting non-League football, and commend him for being one of the few bloggers to comprehensively cover football in Belarus this past year, helping - alongside the one and only Chris Walker, the man behind CW Sport Radio - to provide a football fix for lovers of the ball which is round during much of lockdown, and all at a consistently high standard.

Finally, a word for all the nominees for the Football Shirt category. Those who collect shirts are a misunderstood but close-knit community, who look out for each other in many ways. The four nominees, Adam's Shirt Quest, Soccer Sartorial, The Global Obession and World Shirts, took part in an extremely sporting section, and deserve an accolade for their fair-play during voting.


GENERAL: The 94th Minute

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession


NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Living In Montserrat/Pasifika Sisters


MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels

PFBBA FAIR-PLAY AWARD: The Global Obsession/World Shirts/Soccer Sartorial/Adam's Shirt Quest


Whether or not any of the blogs nominated for the PFBBAs receive any more accolades in the future is mainly up to them, but I was very happy to discover a number of new blogs, and not just those which were nominated, but also a few others which left comments and which would have been excellent nominations for any blogging awards. There was something for everyone in the PFBBAs, and I hope that the blogs involved develop, evolve and prosper in the future. Give them your support.

I thank every one of you who took an interest in the PFBBAs, every one of you who nominated a blog, whether it was your own or that of someone else, every one of you who voted, every one of you who commented on or supported this little venture in any way. I'm only sorry I have no trophies or mementos for the winners, but I think every blog which has taken part has won in its own way. If nothing else, my little project has shown that there is a lot of good writing to be discovered out there, a lot of good writers to be showcased and supported. Let's find them and help them out. After all, if we can't go to watch football, we can at least read about it.