Feyenoord stadion

Visit Rotterdam: Dutch city home to Feyenoord and three Eredivisie clubs!

Football trips to Rotterdam

One city in the Netherlands has three teams in the top division – and it is not the capital. Rotterdam is a football-mad destination and the most famous club is Feyenoord, currently top of the Eredivisie.

Rotterdam is a gritty city of resilience, so the largest football club that calls this city home needs to reflect this and Feyenoord does in abundance.

Nickes.Com can arrange great weekend trips to see football in Rotterdam!


 Stadion Feyenoord view from stands

The story of one of Holland’s most successful clubs began in the humble surroundings of the De Vereeniging pub in 1908. Originally called Wilhelmina, it wasn’t until 1912 that the founders decided to rename the club to reflect the city district in which it was represented – SC Feijenoord was born.

Representing the working class area of the city, they donned the famous red and white halved shirts with black shorts and socks, and playing in the quaint surroundings of their Kromme Zandweg ground.

Success required a move to their present home. De Kuip. Is a beautifully tiered, bowl of a stadium capable of holding over 50,000 supporters.  Translated as ‘The Tub’ the stadium would become the blueprint for some of the world’s greatest stadia, not least Barcelona’s Camp Nou. Like the city of Rotterdam, it too has had its dark. During World War II, Rotterdam was practically flattened during a bombing campaign by Nazi Germany in 1940. De Kuip was used as a departure point for political opponents and Dutch resistance fighters before they were transported to concentration camps. The city and the stadium came through the other side, and this building has become a beacon of hope and fighting spirit for many Rotterdammers.

feyenoord fansSupporters are fiercely proud of this iconic stadium. It is reflected in their opposition to sponsorships and multi-billionaires taking control of this famous club. Such is the emotional attachment to this stadium, supporters have been campaigning to expand De Kuip as opposed to relocating.

Feyenoord claimed their first Eredivisie title (and their sixth Dutch championship) in 1961. Their free-flowing football, spearheaded by local boy Henk Schouten drew them plenty of plaudits.

It’s fair to say that there is no love lost between the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. There is a saying in Rotterdam: “Money is earned in Rotterdam, divided in The Hague and spent in Amsterdam”, reflecting the city’s hard-working nature compared to the cultural hub of the Dutch capital. The rivalry is manifested in the two major football clubs of each cities.

Feyenoord recorded a string of league titles during the 1960s and early 1970s alongside a handful of KNVB Cup wins, but their finest hour came in May 1970 when they stepped out at Milan’s San Siro stadium in the final of the European Cup. They faced the heavy favourites Celtic. Despite going a goal down, the Dutch side rallied with captain Rinus Israël equalising. The game went to extra time, and with the clock ticking away and penalties looming, Swedish striker Ove Kindvall beat his man and chipped a delicate shot over the goalkeeper to give Feyenoord a 2-1 victory.

Despite being among Holland’s big three and claiming multiple domestic and European honours there is something that Feyenoord’s supporters have craved for almost 20 years – a league title.

However, under the leadership of Dirk Kuyt on the pitch and manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s commitment to playing attractive football is starting to bear fruit. A KNVB Cup victory last season was the club’s first trophy in eight years and the supporters are hoping this season will see an elusive championship win.

Price example:

Two nights at a 3-star hotel in Rotterdam (2 sharing incl breakfast) and Feyenoord match ticket from 265 euros per person (excl flights).

Book your trip to see Feyenoord with Nickes.Com!

Visit Sparta Rotterdam

Sparta Rotterdam frontage

These days Sparta Rotterdam have to live in the shadow of Feyenoord. But it’s not always been quite an open and shut case as to who is top dog in Rotterdam. Sparta are the oldest professional football club in the Netherlands, formed way back in 1888 as a branch of a cricket club – a full 20 years before Feyenoord.  The cricket club soon drew stumps and disbanded but the football side continued, and were in the highest Dutch league by 1893.

Before the First World War this team dominated the league, winning the national league title five times in six years.  They did, though, then have a long wait to their next national title – and only Eredivisie crown – in 1959. It was worth the wait though as it meant they could compete in the fledgling European Cup.

Het Kasteel, or castle, has been Sparta’s stadium for a century. The frontage has two small towers, the original part of this stadium, built in 1916 in the Spangen neighbourhood west of Rotterdam city centre.  The rest of the ground was completely renovated at the turn of the century – indeed even the pitch has been turned 90 degrees, as the towers are now on the side of the pitch, when they used to be behind the goal. It’s now a compact 11, 000 capacity affair on one tier all the way round.

Despite the relatively new surroundings inside Het Kasteel, a trip here does fill you with a nostalgic glow – down to the red and white striped shirts, chosen after a trip to Sunderland at the turn of the 20th Century.

Visit Excelsior

Woudestein Stadion Excelsior

Out of the three senior clubs in Rotterdam, it is possible that Excelsior are the ones you are least likely to have heard of.  But you must respect a club that have become semi-regulars in the Eredivisie in recent times. They may not have the biggest ground, and certainly not the biggest attendances, but despite this they have punched well above their weight.

Excelsior’s Woudestein Stadion nestles in a dip down from the main road on the edge of parkland. Stroll down the bank from the tram stop, and past the 100s of cycles parked up next to the entrance across the car park is a smart, modern stadium, largely rebuilt around the turn of the century. All the facilities are found here, the main stand of the ground – the main entrance, ticket information and   club shop.

Turnstiles round to the right of the main stand are the main gateway for all fans who gather on the terraces of the Robin Van Persie Stand, and seats on the far side. While the Woudestein is a modest 4,400 capacity affair, the proximity of the fans to the action still make for a lively atmosphere.

What to see in Rotterdam

Gritty. Urban. Edgy. It’s fair to say Rotterdam has enjoyed, or maybe endured, a reputation as one of Europe’s tougher cities.

As one of the world’s major ports it was in the line of fire in the Second World War and the Netherlands’ second city was flattened as a result. Medieval picture postcard, it is not.

In the past 70 years Rotterdam has had to rebuild itself in every sense of the word, and is no longer embarrassed by that gritty, urban tag – indeed it positively celebrates it with a modern, cultured vibe.

If fate has meant you don’t have too many historic buildings left to show off, then you need to do something different and the Netherlands is enterprising, innovative and a bizarre new architecture they have on show.

Nowhere is this more apparent, or in a greater abundance, than Rotterdam. A wander around the centre of the city will yield many delights but one good place to start is at Blaak Station. On one side you see the striking cube houses, built in 1977 as one attempt to maximise space, while turn around and you are greeted with the magnificent Markthal, opened by the Queen in 2014.  Elsewhere the Erasmus Bridge leans over the river. Glance along the riverside and the styles and shapes of the offices and apartments glean in the reflection from the water.

Rotterdam is blessed with many museums and there are more than enough to keep you occupied for a weekend, with topics covering everything from maritime and history to architecture and cartoon books.

Witte de Withstraat is lined with various cultural institutions and many bars and restaurants –this is the heart of Rotterdam’s cultural nightlife and a good place to find different options for a meal. Meanwhile a little further east, a short walk from Blaak Station, the wharfs have reinvented themselves as areas for a chilled drink and meal.

Rotterdam is lively, energetic and has a more welcoming feel than I anticipated. Go and be surprised.

Price example:

Two nights at a 3-star hotel in Rotterdam (2 sharing incl breakfast) and Feyenoord match ticket from 265 euros per person (excl flights).

Book your trip to see Feyenoord with Nickes.Com!

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