Sunday, 28 June 2009

De Kuip (Dutch Cup Finals)

Since 1989 all finals of the Dutch Cup ('KNVB-beker' in Dutch) have been played at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam. This was part of a strategy of the KNVB to give the domestic cup competition more status in the Netherlands.

Roda JC have reached the Cup Final six times, in 1976, 1988, 1992, 1997, 2000, and 2008. Only twice were they successful, in 1997 and 2000. They lost the finals in 1978 and 1988 to PSV and in 1992 and 2008 Feyenoord proved too strong.

I attended the finals in 1997, 2000, and 2008.


1997

Outside the De Kuip for the 1997 final againt SC Heerenveen. It was the first time Roda were playing a cup final against a team other than one of the traditional Dutch top-three however Heerenveen were considered slight favourites.


Nevertheless Roda JC won the game convincingly: 4-2. The first major trophy in the history of the club was in the bag.


2000

Only three years later Roda JC were in the final again after beating Vitesse in the semi-final. Again Roda JC were playing a 'smaller' team, this time it was N.E.C. of Nijmegen. Roda JC won 2-0. Eric van de Luer scored this winning penalty in the dying minutes of the game.


Understandibly I was delighted to have won the cup again, only three years after the first one.


The players were happy too.


2008

It took eight years for Roda to reach the final for a sixth time. Roda had been close in 2006 when they lost the semi-final to Ajax in Amsterdam after extra time after having been up 1-0 and Huntelaar scored the equaliser almost 3 minutes in injury time.


We knew this was going to be more difficult than the last two editions as we were playing Feyenoord at their own home.


Nevertheless the Roda fans showed up in good numbers.


However what we all had feared happened. Roda never showed up on the day and Feyenoord won comfortably 2-0.


Unfortunately no white bath robes for Roda JC but blue ones. Interestingly when Amstel sponsored the Dutch Cup the losers would get the white robes and the winners received red robes.

Ibrox Stadium (Rangers)

For more pictures of Ibrox see this post and this one.

View from the Main Stand against Werder Bremen on 6 March 2008 (UEFA Cup, round of 16, first leg). The Govan Stand and part of the Copland Road Stand can be seen.


View from the Main Stand on the Broomloan Stand. Rangers beat Werder Bremen 2-0. Rangers lost the return leg 1-0 but this was enough to see them through to the quarter finals. Attendance: 45,959.


Rangers v Sporting Portugal on 3rd April 2008 (UEFA Cup, quarter final, first leg). View from the Govan Stand on the Main Stand. The game ended goalless. Rangers won the return leg 2-0 and Rangers qualified for the semi-finals. Attendance: 48,923.


To my own suprise I managed to get an excellent seat in the Govan Stand for the UEFA Cup semi-final (first leg) against Fiorentina on 24th April 2008.


The Copland Road Stand. The game against Fiorentina ended goalless as well.


The Broomloan Stand: the Fiorentina supporters can be seen on the right. The return leg in Italy was another 0-0, even after extra time. Rangers won the penalty shoot-out 4-2 and qualified for the 2008 UEFA Cup final in Manchester. Attendance: 49,199.


The following season I returned to Ibrox as a St Mirren supporter on 15th November 2008. Kris Boyd scored for Rangers after only five minutes and then Steven Davis made it 2-0 10 minutes after kick-off. We all feared the worst. The picture shows the Govan Stand after the final whistle.


St Mirren showed character and managed to avoid a thrashing. Franco Miranda scored for St Mirren in the 81st minute but it was not enough to salvage what would have been a well-deserved point. The game ended 2-1 to Rangers. The picture shows the Broomloan Stand and the impressive three-tier Main Stand. Attendance: 49,321.


With my mate Marco, who visits me from Holland regularly, outside Ibrox when we attended Rangers v Inverness Caledonian Thistle on 14th October 2006. Inverness stunned the Ibrox side when Graham Bayne put them 1-0 ahead in the 71st minute. Rangers were unable to pull one back and the game ended in defeat for Rangers. Attendance: 49,494.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Kaalheide (Roda JC)

Gemeentelijk Sportpark Kaalheide was opened in 1950 and was Roda JC's home ground until 2000 when the Pride of the South moved to the 19,600 capacity all-seater Parkstad Limburg Stadion. It is situated in the town of Kerkrade, a small town in the most southern part of the Netherlands near the German border, only 6 miles from the German city of Aachen.

Roda JC were only founded in 1962, the result of the merger of Roda Sport and Rapid JC. In 1973 Roda JC were promoted to the Dutch top flight, the Eredivisie, and they have never been relegated since, although it took a penalty shoot-out win in the play-off finals at Cambuur Leeuwarden last month to secure a slot in the Eredivisie for at least one more season.

I started visiting Kaalheide during the 1994/95 season. Roda were at their best at that time. They only lost two league games in the whole season and finished the season in runner-up spot behind European champions Ajax. For the 1995/96 season I bought my first season ticket and I remained a season ticket holder until I moved to Scotland in 2001.


The picture above was taken in either November or December 1998 from the North Terrace, a roofed terrace where the more fanatical supporters used to congregate. It looks like Roda won and my guess is that this was the derby against MVV of Maastricht on 27th November 1998 (2-1). The Main Stand, which was renovated as late as 1992 can be seen in the background. The two ends behind the goals were not covered and these terraces were generally not very popular. Away supporters were allocated one half of the West Terrace until the late nineties. Later the away fans were moved to the East Terrace to make it easier to seperate the opposing supporters' groups outside the ground.

Kaalheide was built as a multi-functional stadium and was (and still is) used as an athletics venue as well. This was a common concept in the Netherlands, and the rest of the continent for that matter. The running track around the pitch ensured that the terraces behind the goals were a fair distance from the pitch and this, combined with the fact that these stands were uncovered, contributed to a widespread dislike of these stands by both home and away supporters. Luckily the home supporters had an alternative.

The official capacity changed over the years and was considered to be around 15-16,000 in the late nineties however sell-outs have always been rare at Kaalheide. A record crowd of 23,000 saw Roda JC lose to Anderlecht (2-3) in the second leg of the first round of the UEFA Cup on 26 September 1976 (3-5 aggregate). This is still a record for a Roda home game.

Unlike many other older stadiums in the Netherlands Kaalheide is still in use, both as an athletics venue and as a football ground: it is Roda's training ground and the reserve team play their games at Kaalheide. The North Stand was however demolished in 2005 because it had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of collapsing.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Bloomfield Road (2006 Northern Rail Cup Final)

No football match for a change but a rugby game match, a rugby league match even, which was played in what is usually the home of Blackpool FC. My first encounter with rugby league was not planned but I found out there was a rugby cup final during our annual family weekend in Blackpool. I have to say I enjoyed it thoroughly. A fast-paced and close match with a well-behaved partisan crowd. Leigh Centurions won the Northern Rail Cup by beating Hull Kingston Rovers 22-18 after an impressive comeback.


The North Stand.


When I visited the stadium there was no South Stand. The South Stand is being built at the moment and you can check the progress here.


The temporary East Stand.


Our seats where on what was then called the Pricesbusters West Stand.


Both teams coming onto the pitch.


Leigh Centurions, 2006 Northern Rail Cup Winners.


16th July 2006
Northern Rail Cup Final
Leigh Centurions 22 Hull Kingston Rovers 18
Att: 7,547

Hampden Park (biggest ever squad photo)






This was not my first trip to Hampden but definitely the most unusual one. Scotland sponsor Tennent's came up with the idea to invite the Tartan Army to take part in the 'biggest ever squad photo'. As this was organised during normal working hours on a normal week day the Tartan Army showed up in relatively limited numbers and the organisers had to resort to putting a Dutchman next to Kirk Broadfoot, the Rangers (and former St Mirren) player, to fill up the seats. The pictures were published in all Scottish tabloids including a centrefold in The Scottish Sun. The top three pictures were taken by myself with my camera phone.

Camp Nou (Barcelona v Racing Santander)





Saturday 13th September 2008
La Liga
Barcelona 1 Racing Santander 1
Barcelona: Messi (pen.) 71.
Racing Santander: Jonathan 77.
Att: 54,678

Camp Nou (Barcelona v Real Mallorca)










Sunday 11 September 2005
La Liga
Barcelona 2 Real Mallorca 0
Goals: Eto'o 26, 32.
Att: 71,948



Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Camp Nou (Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao)







Sunday 2nd September 2007
La Liga
Barceloa 3 Athletic Bilbao 1
Barcelona: Ronaldinho 8, pen 35, Yaya Toue 72.
Athletic Bilbao: Susaeta 71.
Att: 76,817
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