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 Atmosphere report

Feyenoord - Ajax (2-2)
Eredivisie, 11 November 2007
Stadium : De Kuip
Attendance : 45.000

This is The Match in the Netherlands! Rotterdam vs. Amsterdam, working-class vs. arrogance, you name it. Known as De Klassieker (The Classic), it's the clash between the two most successful teams of Holland.

I've been to this match almost every season since 1983-1984, and I have seen lots of historic matches between these two.
Since Feyenoord was outplayed last year by ajax, losing 0-4 at home, Feyenoord had to make something up for the fans. All of us Feyenoord fans are looking forward to this match almost immediately when the Dutch Football Organization announces the schedule for the new season.

The week before this match is a nervous one, the media are showing several pre-match reports. It doesn't matter who is on top of the league at that moment, the form of the day always decides who wins.

For safety reasons, the kick-off was at 12.30 pm, instead of the usual Dutch kick-off time of 14.30 pm. I started this sunny Sunday together with my cousin enjoying some early beers in a nearby amateur football club canteen, where a lot of the Feyenoord boys always come together before the match. You could see the tension on everyone's faces.

The 1,600 ajax fans were brought to Rotterdam in two chartered trains, no chance of getting near the trains at the station, as the riot police formed a couple of lines between the two sets of fans. And the Ajax fans have to walk through a secluded tunnel to reach their section.

So the only possible thing close to "having it" is swearing and shouting, us calling them f#cking jews, them calling us cockroaches.

The cops are heavily prepared for this match, as the past had seen a lot of crowd trouble, both inside and out of the stadium. So e.g. without a ticket you were not allowed to walk on the Stadium Square, and you had to show your I.D. as well. The cops also were busy with filling their database by taking pictures of anyone they consider to be troublemakers.

We got inside the stadium at 12.15 pm, just after the two teams finished their warming-up. My cousin and I hold a season ticket in section JJ, second tier, to the right of the away fans' second tier section. Nowadays ajax is the only club that fills the maximum capacity for away fans. The away section is on the first and on the second tier, just behind the south goal. It is separated from the Feyenoord fans on both sides by a dividing wall of unbreakable glass, a section of empty seats and a line of stewards. Still, Feyenoord boys were able to break through the steward line and had a go at the glass wall. This was the only 'trouble' today'...

Just before 12.30 pm, the playerstunnel opened up, the Feyenoord clubanthem (Hand in Hand, Kameraden) was played over the speakers and the two teams took the field. A large tifo action was done by the Feyenoord fans, sitting opposite from us on the North Side. A large painted banner, showing the skyline of Rotterdam and a solid arm holding up the Feyenoord Stadium coming out of the skyline, was lowered and covered up the whole first tier, 4 sections in lenght.

Underneath the banner there was written: "Uit Eigen Kracht Voortgebracht". (Made Out Of Own Strength, these words were spoken by the then Feyenoord chairman when the Feyenoord Ground was opened in 1937). And throughout most of stadium, red flares were lit and green and white paper leaves were held up by the fans, creating a stadium wide Rotterdam flag.

From kickoff on, all Feyenoord fans continuously and passionately sang, shouted and yelled the Feyenoord boys forward, creating a brilliant atmosphere I haven't experienced in a long time at this match. We mostly sang Feyenoord songs, and also some anti-ajax ones, like "Wie niet springt, die is een jood". (“If you don't jump up and down, you are a jew”, on the melody of 'When the saints go marching in') Both clubs had warned their fans beforehand to sing only songs to support their own team, otherwise they would ban the away fans for five years. I think that's a lot of bullocks, singing anti-songs is part of the whole atmosphere!

Feyenoord played well in the first half, unfortunately only resulting in a one-goal lead at half time. This goal was very loudly cheered at, especially because it was scored by the Feyenoord captain and a true Feyenoord man, Giovanni van Bronckhorst. I was standing on the third step of one the stairs and almost fell down because of the cheering, with everybody jumping up and down and around like crazy. All the nerves suddenly were gone, relieved as we were by this goal and our teams' performance and having the previous season still in mind.

The ajax fans were very silent, impressed as they were perhaps by the excellent Feyenoord play. The second half saw ajax luckily taking a 1-2 lead, and all of a sudden the 1,600 ajax jews woke up and started singing some ajax and anti-feyenoord songs. But that did not last long, as Feyenoord was awarded a penalty kick not long after and equalized.

So then we tried to have Feyenoord score the winning goal by singing and shouting even louder. In the dying seconds, two huge scoring chances were sadly missed by Feyenoord's Andwele Slory, so the match ended with a 2-2 draw.

Going back to the car to head for home, my throat hurt from all the singing and shouting, but I did not care. I was very proud of Feyenoord, as they were the better team for most of the match. And the atmosphere was excellent, the Feyenoord Legion really showed why they are the greatest.

Next match between these two giants of Dutch football will be in Amsterdam, on February 3 2008. Hopefully Feyenoord will play like they did today and win this one!

Report added : 21 November 2007
Report by : BackPackMaluku
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