Saturday 15th October 2011 KO 2.30pm
SVV EXCELSIOR 31 2 (Wilens 46 56)
IJSSELMEERVOGELS 1 (Ramic 30)
These 4 games were the brainchild of well-respected hopper Peter Ford; I merely provided company, and occasional directions! We used the Channel Tunnel on Friday night, well Saturday morning and stayed the remainder of the night at the spartan, but cheap Formule 1, at Calais Coquelles. Despite a massive hold-up on the Antwerp ring road, we arrived at Sport Park De Koerbelt,in Rjissen, Netherlands around 45 minutes before kick off.
Despite the name the Dutch Topklasse is in fact the 3rd tier, and there’s very little promotion up to the next level the Erstedivisie. In fact the vistors have won the Topklasse Zaterdag for the last 2 seasons, and it was obvious that the locals were keyed up for this game against the “Big Boys.” Which brings me neatly up to the Zaterdag bit. Below the top two levels, Dutch football is split into Saturday and Sunday football, a remnant of the influence of the two major religions in the country. Nominally at least the Catholics play on the Sunday, and the Protestants on the Saturday. Odd, but handy for the groundhopper!
The ground is on the edge of town and has a rural feel, even featuring a narrow gauge railway outside. There’s a large wooden stand, but the impression is one of space, the main pitch is “Veld 3” and there plenty of space for the patrons to mill around or use the excellent clubhouse behind the near goal. It reminded me of Degerfors of Sweden, but smaller.
The game was a cracker. Spakenburg based Vogels clearly had it well within themselves easily and Ramic’s opener, a spectacular overhead kick will live long in the memory. But they reckoned without their host’s persistance, and Wilen’s 25 yard free kick was an excellent reposte. The winner was almost as good as what had preceded, Ten Hove’s cross from the left fooled the Vogels defence, I though Wilens touched it in, the stadium announcer didn’t!
Make no mistake, this was a huge shock, and the expressions on the faces of the home fans at the end spoke volumes. It was then back over the border to Belgium for our second game.