A football tournament, which kicks off in St John’s on July 4 is attracting huge media interest from around the world.
The Tynwald Hill International Tournament takes place at St John’s United’s Mullen-e-Cloie ground and will include former players from the Italian and Spanish leagues, as well as ex-Liverpool and West Ham star Julian Dicks as manager of one of the teams.
‘It’s gone crazy,’ said tournament organiser Malcolm Blackburn.
‘We’ve got coverage from a sports reporter from the New York Times, from Russia’s largest football magazine, also the website “Inbedwithmaradona” which has a 2.2million readership, Football Club Magazine, which has a 1.5m readership, Talksport radio, and there are three TV crews coming,’ he adds.
‘Ticket sales have been hysterical too. There are loads of people coming to the island especially for the tournament.
‘It could even be that local people just turn up on the day and find the games are sold out.’
Competing in the Non-Fifa tournament will be six teams; Alderney, Occitania, Raetia, Sealand, St John’s United and Tamil Eelam.
St John’s stepped in to host the event earlier this year after the original organisers found they were unable to stage it in London. Prior to this, the ambitious western club made a bid to represent the Isle of Man at the Island Games in Bermuda, but complications arose as they weren’t a representative national side.
Alderney is perhaps one of the few teams participating that people may already have heard of. The third largest Channel Island with a population of 1,600, they also compete in the Island Games.
Occitania, meanwhile, is a historical region in southern Europe which roughly encompasses the southern half of France, Monaco and smaller parts of Italy and Spain. Perhaps the most famous sporting offspring from the region is Eric Cantona.
The team was set up to help preserve the ancient medieval language of Occitan and their squad includes former Real Zaragoza player Vivian Dors.
Raetia was a province of the Roman Empire named after the Rhaetian people and is an area comprising eastern and central Switzerland, southern Bavaria and the Upper Swabia, Vorarlberg, the greater part of Tirol, and part of Lombardy.
Tamil Eelam have named former Roma striker Panushanth Kulenthiran in their squad, which is made up from players from all around the world, who in many instances, have been forced away from their homeland of Eelam, an area of Sri Lanka. American news channel CNN will be following the Tamil team.
The area is known for the Tamil Tigers, a separatist militant organisation, who fought against the Sri Lankan government forces in a 26-year war.
Sealand is perhaps one of the most interesting nations taking part. It has a population of just 27 and is located 13km off the coast of Suffolk.
The Bates family took control of the ‘island’, which is basically a man-made platform in the sea, in 1967 and declared themselves the rulers, with Roy Bates calling himself ‘Prince Roy’. He died in October 2012 and his son, ‘Prince Michael’, took over.
Ralf Little, actor in the Royle Family, has played for the Sealand team in the past.
With such a unique collection of teams, Malcolm hopes that a successful tournament may lead to the island hosting next year’s VIVA World Cup, a competition organised by the New Federation Board, an umbrella association for nations unaffiliated with FIFA.
For more information on the Tynwald Hill Tournament visit www.tynwaldtournament.com