Will the hand of cod come back to haunt England?

CRUNCH HMS Yarmouth collides with the Icelandic gunboat Thor which was attempting to reach trawlers out of the picture during the Cod War

CRUNCH HMS Yarmouth collides with the Icelandic gunboat Thor which was attempting to reach trawlers out of the picture during the Cod War

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The Three Lions run into the Blue Wall tonight in Nice when England tackle Iceland in the last 16 of the Euros.

We start as clear favourites. We’ve got better players and superior resources and we’re up against against a country with a population the size of Leicester.

MANGLED HMS Falmouths damaged bow after her collision with the Icelandic coastguard gunboat Tyr during the Cod War in 1976.                    Picture: David Mathias

MANGLED HMS Falmouths damaged bow after her collision with the Icelandic coastguard gunboat Tyr during the Cod War in 1976. Picture: David Mathias

The result should be clear cut and that’s what we thought 40 years ago this summer when the might of the Royal Navy took on Iceland in the Cod War. But it was the underdogs who came out on top.

The Cod War started in September 1972 when Iceland extended its territorial waters from 12 to 50 miles. Britain refused to recognise it which led to Icelandic patrol boats chasing British trawlers out of its newly-declared home waters.

The Icelandic coastguard then started using net-cutters to destroy British trawling nets and soon the navy was sent to protect our trawlers. Confrontations took place for more than a year with British ships being rammed by Icelandic coastguard boats.

In 1973 Portsmouth-built HMS Andromeda entered the fray and on August 11 was rammed by the Icelandic gunboat Óðinn.

GASH A close-up of the 12-foot hole in HMS Diomedess port side caused by a collision with the Icelandic coastguard gunboat Baldur during the Cod War in 1976.                             Picture: David Nealon

GASH A close-up of the 12-foot hole in HMS Diomedess port side caused by a collision with the Icelandic coastguard gunboat Baldur during the Cod War in 1976. Picture: David Nealon

In 1975 Andromeda was rammed again damaging her guardrail and a chaff launcher and on January 7, 1976, she was rammed for a third time, receiving a 12ft dent and having to return to Devonport for repairs. BEN BRUCE

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