The main stand at Apeldoorn. Not many of these left in Holland now.
Back in September redundancy was boring me and I decided to make a small trip to the low countries in order to visit a couple of friends in Utrecht. They’ve now got used to me coming over and they always seem perplexed that I want to pay to see Dutch lower division football. Apeldoorn on the friday night, was the first port of call to watch a Dutch 2nd Division game between AGOVV Apeldoorn and FC Eindhoven in the quaint little Sportpark Berg en Bos and it’s name gives a fair reflection on it’s location as it’s in the middle of the woods, well to be exact it’s deep in the heart of Veluwe forest. It’s a three sided ground with 2 new all seater stands and a beautiful old relic of a stand dating back to 1913.
The AGOVV bit in the club name stands for Alleen Gezamenlijk Oefenen Voert Verder, which translated into English means “Only Practising Together Brings us Further”. They were founded in 1913, turned professional in 1954, went back to being an amateur in 1971 and re-entered the professional world in 2003, when they signed PSV forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on loan and helped him on his career to bigger and better things. Ex Man United reserve keeper Raimond Van der Gouw played 100 games for them after he returned to Holland.
Supporting your team’s merchandise, the dutch way.
The game itself was pretty awful. But I had a nice seat for 10 euros and the ground is quite easy on the eye. AGOVV have had a terrible start to the season losing all 4 league matches, scoring only 4 goals and conceding 17. It was only going to be 0-0, although upon 87 minutes the home side won a penalty. The home fans celebrated like mad and let off several fireworks only for the AGOVV player to tamely hit the penalty straight at the goalkeeper. So the home fans took out some frustration on the stewards who were still actively looking for the culprits who let off the fireworks in the first place. Lots of pushing and shoving ensued which ended in a stand off and swearing that is beyond my level of Dutch.
After the game finished there was a bit of trouble between the local chavs and the stewards. As I walked back to the car the Police turned up and when I drove back past the ground the way out of Apeldoorn there were 30 or 40 chavs being brave on the other side of the road from a phalynx of stewards and coppers on the other side, hopeful that these little urchins would go back home for a much needed schmoke and pancake.
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Dutch Park and Ride in full effect at Spakenburg
If it’s saturday it must be the Topklasse amateur league in Holland and off to the see the “Manchester United of the dutch amateur leagues” called IJsselmeervogels from the fishing port of Spakenburg (a mere 23 miles from Utrecht) take on Capelle from Rotterdam.
They are the most successful amateur league side in Holland and can attract first and second division players to the club quite easily despite their amateur status with fringe benefits such as nice houses and jobs! A friend of a friend back in Utrecht said that the offers they make to attract players are better than the second division teams can offer and to attract really good players some offers can rival what first division clubs can offer. Ricky Van Den Bergh for example now plays for SV Spakenburg after signing from Sparta Rotterdam and spending 6 seasons in the first division playing for ADO Den Haag, RKC Waalwijk and Heracles Almelo.
The stadium itself is a nice tidy ground with two open ends, a fully covered terrace and a big main stand with uncovered terraces on both sides. They play on a 3g pitch. Spakenburg actually plays hosts to two massive amateur teams, IJsselmeervogels and SV Spakenburg whose grounds are situated right next to each other, much closer than the set ups in Dundee and Mannheim! Both stadiums hold around 6,500 fans.
The game itself was ok. There’s a distinct lack of width sometimes in Dutch football which really irks me. On the evidence of games I’ve seen more emphasis is placed on a much slower build up than I’m used to and a more congested central area. But the narrow midfield leaves so much space down the flanks and I feel myself screaming internally. It seems as they are obsessed with being neat, tidy and clever in small confined spaces. Perhaps they should stick to what they know best instead.
A bit of width in Dutch football. Don’t be fooled. Het is niet waar!
A poor game ended 2-2 with a late equaliser for IJsselmeervogels against an enourmous looking more athletic Capelle team. Again 10, euros to get in. 3 euros for a big portion of Kibbeling (fried pieces of fish) and cheap beer.
Fried fish bits at football? It’s the way forward.
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Volendam V SC Cambuur at Cocaine Centraal.
On the Sunday I went to see the Dutch second division game between FC Volendam and SC Cambuur Leeuwarden at the Kras Stadion which is situated in a nice residential area. It’s a tidy enough little ground in the very sleepy Fishing port of Volendam, which has got a certain reputation in Holland for being quite religious, quite inbred, quite touristy and so i’m told a lot of Cocaine comes in via Volendam.
FC Volendam were founded in 1977 from split from a Volendam amateur club and they’ve been yo-yoing between the two top divisions ever since. They have produced some very decent players over the years. Gerrie and Arnold Mühren, who were both born in Volendam, played for the amateur club before moving on to Ajax. Wim Jonk was also born in Volendam, played for Volendam and then moved onto Ajax. Jonk joined FC Volendam from RKAV Volendam who were the other part of the split back in 1977!
The Kras Stadion is named after the main sponsor who are a recyling company. It holds around 6,500 and comprises of 4 all seated stands, 3 of which look fairly identical and have numerous supporting posts and then there’s the main stand which doesn’t but has many executive boxes instead. All 4 stands are elevated off the ground but all have bars, food outlets and toilets underneath each stand. The stadium also boasts a 3G pitch supplied by FieldTurf.
I payed 15,00 euros to get in, which turned out to be the most expensive of the whole trip, with the cheapest 12,50 euros and the most expensive 20 euros to get into the Kras Stadion, which I thought was a bit expensive for the division.
The game itself was of quite a good standard. Cambuur took an early lead, only for Volendam to equalise but Cambuur took the lead again within the first 12 minutes. Both sides had their chances to score again before the break but a mixture of comedy finishing and comedy defending, especially by ex dutch international Barry Opdam who I saw play for Red Bull Salzburg a few years ago, saw both sides go into break still at 1-2.
So half time. A quick Leslie Crowther down the steps to the bar and half time food. A crisp beer and “Broodje Bal” ,which is a tasty meatball in a bap with peanut sauce, gave me renewed hope for the second half.
Volendam battered Cambuur in the second half but had absolutely nothing to show for it and then Cambuur hit scored twice on the break in the space of a couple of minutes which saw Erik Bakker get his hat-trick much to the delight of the travelling “Yellow Army” whose 150 fans made more noise than the other 3,000 Volendam fans in the ground.
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Nice evening skies over Helmond province
After Volendam I made the 50 mile trip from Utrecht to Helmond on Monday night via ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the N279 via Veghel which was quite a pivotal little place during Operation Market Garden. I got to the stadium 40 minutes before kick off. Paid 9,50 euros to get a seat in Vak P behind one of the goals. I picked up the free programme and settled down in the most comfortable seat I’ve experienced in Football. They don’t look like much but there’s plenty of arse and leg room. The view from the 2nd row from the top was as good as the one I had recently at Daggenham but for less than a third of a price.
Helmond Sport are from the city of Helmond which is to the east of Eindhoven. The City has around 90,000 inhabitants and was the birthplace of 4 Dutch International footballers, Wilfried Bouma (Ex PSV, Aston Villa, now PSV again), Berry Van Aerle (right back in the 1988 European Championship side) and the Van der Kerkhof brothers (Rene and Willy).
The ground is compact and fairly uniform in design although it’s only three sided. Like Volendam it’s all seated and exactly like Volendam all 3 of the stands are elevated by 10 feet or so above the ground level. This gives room for big club bars and facilities underneath the stand and a better view of the pitch, and also allows a large concourse area in front of the seating area where people can mingle without having stewards moving you out of any Health and Safety yellow boxes.
So onto the match. The only name I recognised was ex QPR Danish International Marc Nygaard who I saw lumber his way through a match for Unterhaching in Germany last year. He was only on the bench though.
The opposing team, FC Zwolle, started the match the better and missed a couple of easy chances. Then with the stadium clock just shy of 10 minutes played all hell broke loose. A couple of late challenges saw a right old melee break out. The ref lost the plot and failed to brandish any cards towards the home side. This irked Zwolle midfielder Rochdi Achenteh so much that he tried to kick anything in range for the next minute or two and then showed enough dissent to get not only one but two yellow cards and an early schmoke & pancake. One of his team-mates actually ran 40 yards to shove him away from the referee but alas to no avail. The reaction from the Helmond fans was bemused laughter.
A minute later Helmond scored a scrappy goal, then added a second before half time, with Zwolle adopting a policy of appealing for yellow cards against every foul and generally behaving like Crawley Town.
Helmond could and should’ve added more in the second half. The Zwolle keeper came in for a bit of good natured ribbing about his fairly camp nature but took it a little to heart and gave the Helmond fans a couple of glares which worsened his personal situation in all honesty. Still it’s quite funny to see big nasty looking skinheads putting on falsetto voices and implying that the keeper might not enjoy the taste of kippers.
Just after this a very complacent Helmond Sport defence allowed FC Zwolle to pull a goal back. Camp Keeper shook his fists at his abusers and then did it again for good measure. Cue more falsetto voices, whistles and “keeper, je bent een homo” in dutch which is quite ironic anyway. I’ll get around to explain “je kunt” another time.
Anyhows, Helmond Sport steadied the ship and scored the decisive third goal through the energetic Kelvin Bossman. 3-1. Everyone in Helmond happy.
So, a farewell to Dutch football for the trip and I think Helmond Sport is a decent place to watch football.
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Tot ziens, Nederland. Dank je wel voor alles.