You've been 'patiently' waiting, so before we get to the top of our countdown of most patient Eurovision countries, lets remind ourselves of number 10-3!
10. FYR Macedonia
7. Bosnia & Herzegovina
2. Malta – 31 Participations – Debut: 1971 – Highest Pos: 2nd
It would be hard not to feel sorry for Malta. Nearly 50 years have passed since their debut (47 to be exact) and they’re yet to manage a win. That’s not to say that they’ve been unsuccessful overall – they’ve come in the top 3 an impressive 4 times, which is more than any other non-winning country.
Malta’s early Eurovision years were pretty shaky. Its first two entries in 1971 and 1972 (the Maltese-language pop songs “Marija l-Maltija” and “L-imħabba”) both finished in last place. After seemingly bowing out for the next two years in order to find the right song/singer, Malta returned in 1975 with their first English language entry – “Singing This Song” performed by Renato Micallef, and managed to reach 12th place. For a long time, this remained Malta’s highest scoring entry, as they withdrew from the contest for the next 16 years. Being absent for this long wasn’t actually their choice, as under former restrictions on the number of entrants, Malta were ineligible to enter. It wasn’t until The Netherlands withdrew in 1991 that Malta were able to take their place and return to the competition, with Georgina & Paul Giordimaina’s performance of "Could It Be" powering its way to 6th place.
The years between then and 2005 were something of a golden period for Malta. Other than a blip in 2003, Malta made it into the top 15 every time and they also scored their highest-ranking entries in this period: third place twice (Mary Spiteri with "Little Child" in 1992 and Chiara with "The One That I Love" in 1998), and second place twice (Ira Losco with "7th Wonder" in 2002 and Chiara with "Angel" in 2005). The years since 2006 haven’t been so kind: they came last in 2006, and of the 12 entries they’ve submitted since, only 5 have made it through to the final and of these only 2 have made it into the top 20. Malta are nothing if not persistent though, and along with Sweden are the only non-Big Four country to have participated every year since 1991. As Portugal demonstrated recently, sometimes slow and steady wins the race, so there’s no reason a victory couldn’t be in sight for Malta.
1. Cyprus – 35 Participations – Debut: 1981 – Highest Pos: 2nd
And finally, we have Cyprus. Cyprus who hold the dubious honour of being the country that has competed the most times (35) without a single win. Cyprus who will almost always finish with at least 12 points if Greece has anything to do with it. Cyprus who with “Fuego” just last year got their best ever position (2nd) and more than double their previous highest number of points with sexpot Eleni Foureira’s song (and dance moves) really turning up the heat.
Unlike a lot of other participants, Cyprus have no big gap in their participation history. Since 1981, they’ve only missed three contests; 1988, 2001 and 2014. And quite the rollercoaster they’ve had over the years! Their first two entries in 1981 and 1982 came 6th and 5th place, ("Monika" performed by Island and "Mono i agapi" performed by Anna Vissi). From this positive start, a few bad years of failing to make the top 10 followed, culminating in Cyprus’s only last place with "Tora zo" from Elpida in 1986. From here to 2004 Cyprus scored solidly and consistently middle of the road, never in the elite top 3, but never coming last again. Out of the 15 entries in this period, the vast majority (11 of them) came in the top 15, with 6 of them being in the top 10. By any standards that’s a strong record, but then came the modern semis, which have been a curse to many, including Cyprus. In the year the semis were introduced, 2014, Cyprus scored their third 5th place with the ballad “Stronger Every Minute” performed by 16-year-old Lisa Andreas. This, however, was the cliff edge for Cyprus, and the next 14 years were a harsh descent of results. Of 12 entries, only 6 made it to the final, and none of them managed the top 15 (with 4 of them coming 21st or less).
And then, last year, rising from the ashes, we have Eleni; Cyprus’s biggest hit, biggest result, and biggest hair. Let’s hope this indicates Cyprus turning a corner Eurovision-wise and there’s a win on the horizon. Because who wouldn’t want to go to Eurovision on a beautiful Mediterranean island in the sunshine?