De Kuip. Built in 1937 and the home of 17-time Dutch champions, Feyenoord Rotterdam. It’s a stadium I’ve wanted to visit for years and made all the easier now with me living in the Netherlands.
Being a Celtic fan you grow up knowing the name Feyenoord as they famously beat us in the European Cup final in 1970. Also with a number of players from the likes of Henrik Larsson and Pierre van Hooijdonk playing for both teams there has always been a link. Our infamous manger Wim Jansen who won us the league in ’97 also turned out for the Rotterdam club.
A few weeks prior, I attended the Johan Cruijff Schaal match between PSV and Feyenoord and loved the latter’s atmosphere with their singing, flags (which were green and white) and how they pyro’d the hell out of the start of the match. So when I got an email through from the club offering me tickets, I was never going to say no, was I?
In the run up to this match, Feyenoord had not got off to a good start. The Dutch Super Cup aside, Feyenoord were beaten both in the Eredivisie and Europe, with a home draw in the latter resulting in elimination from the competition. So the derby match against their former feeder club Excelsior was a must win to kick-start their season.
Rotterdam is about a two hour train journey away from where I currently live in Maastricht. With all the years of following Celtic everywhere from Milan to Inverness, two hours is nothing. Train tickets in the Netherlands aren’t really cheap though with tickets for example from Maastricht to Amsterdam costing you €25 one way. Thankfully someone turned us on to a website offering half-price tickets before this trip.
The tram journey to the stadium from Centraal takes about 20-minutes and much to my delight, it’s free with a match ticket. The tram was full of a variety of fans, young and old. We asked a few fans about where was the best place to get a beer before the match and were advised that a lot of fans drink at a local amateur ground near the stadium.
We arrived off the trains and headed to a number of cafes and bars next to the tram station which were rammed full of Feyenoord fans with music blasting out the doors. A drink or two in there and we headed over to get a good look at De Kuip. In a world where new modern stadiums are built all over the place, De Kuip is a welcomed change. Old and gritty with flood lights outside the stadium pointing inwards. All around the stadium there is banners that celebrate players and moments from the club’s history. The stadium was buzzing before kick-off so we grabbed another few beers and made our way to our seats.
The game itself didn’t really get going until Robin van Persie calmly slotted home the first goal on the 17th minute mark. A lot of wasted chances and poor passes filled the rest of what was a frustrating half for the home support. The one noticeable occurrence was the Excelsior fans showering the sick kids from the local hospital below them with cuddly toys which was also done by Ado Den Haag a few years prior. The second half kicked off and much of the support was still tense. This was finally relieved on 78 minutes when Jerry St Juste slotted the ball home after some good play from Yassin Ayoub. A further goal from Jan-Arie van der Heijden in the 89th minute sent the fans home happy.
Whilst chatting away to a supporter beside me, he told me all about the plans for a new 70,000 seater stadium to be built in the near future. The decision is now in the hands of the Rotterdam council as the planning permission is all they are really waiting for. According to him there is a large quantity of the support strongly against the move. It would be a shame to see this stadium go but whatever is built in its place is sure to be a cracker.
Living where I live you are literally in the heart of Europe so you have a mixture of massive clubs and small clubs at your door step. The next fixture I would attend was VVV Venlo vs Heerenveen in the Eredivisie. After that I’m looking to head over to Belgium for a K.R.C Genk or Standard Liege match.
More on them in my next piece.