Saturday, 9 March 2019

Miners


Hi everyone, it's time for part two of last months trip to the continent, this time across the border into The Netherlands to visit Roda J.C. 

Based in Kerkrade in the Limburg region of the Netherlands, the club were formed in 1962 after a merger between two local side’s Roda Sports and Rapid J.C. 
Initially placed in the second tier of Dutch football, they gained promotion to the Eredivisie in 1973 where they would stay until 2014.

Arguably their greatest period came at the Turn of the century as they lifted the KNVB Cup (Dutch F.A Cup to you and me) twice in 1997 and 2000.
These cup wins started a run of success in European competition beating the likes of Bordeaux, Shakhtar Donetsk and culminating in a defeat on penalties to AC Milan at the San Siro.




Roda are known fondly as the ‘Coal Miners’ in reference to the history of the local area, the Mijnstreek (mining district).
When forerunner Rapid J.C. came runners up in the Eredivisie in 1959 there were 10 Miners that made up the squad.

‘De Koempels’ share a bitter rivalry with MVV Maastricht (the team from the provincial capital).
When the two meet it's usually a feisty affair, with three red cards in the previous two meetings.

Roda hold the upper hand in the derby with 22 wins to MVV’s 13.
The most famous of these came in 2017 when the two sides met in the Promotion/Relegation Playoff when only one goal separated the sides after 180 minutes of football.
Daryl Werker scored the goal that would keep Roda in the top flight and resign MVV to another year in the second.

In addition to Maastricht, Roda also share a rivalry with with Fortuna Sittard, that started in the 1990’s when both clubs were in their peak years.

In 2008 with Roda and Fortuna struggling on and off the pitch a statement of intent was published to try and merge both clubs to create a “super club” called F.C.Limburg.
Both sets of fans heavily opposed this, Fortuna started up a fans group called Trots op Fortuna (Proud of Fortuna) and the Roda supporters even hired a lawyer to looking into the clubs mismanagement.
The owners of the clubs didn’t bank on such a strong opposition and finally revised their proposal in April 2009.

Since then though, it’s been hard going for the miners, who were finally relegated after a 41 year stay in the top flight and have fluttered between the first and second divisions ever since.

This season has been yet another disappointing one as they sit 17 points off the automatic promotion place, but a silver lining is that they do stand a good chance of gaining entry to the playoffs.
(If you get a chance, listen to Rob try and explain the playoff system in one of the interviews)





The current coach is Robert Molenaar of Leeds and Bradford fame. (One for the very niche group of 90's Yorkshire football fans amongst us).
He seems to be quite an unpopular choice with the fans as there’s an Instagram page dedicated to him getting sacked!




Now you have had a lesson in the clubs of southern Holland, I’ll tell you about the day...

I woke up in Wuustwezel, Northern Belgium the day after the Bruges win with a head full of Jupiler, a match ticket for the game that evening and a pocket full of credit cards that are apparently no good anywhere. (More on that later)
I was driven across the Belgian border by the ever trusty Roy, who dropped me into Breda with just enough time to catch my train to Eindhoven where I’d have to change trains for Heerlen (Roda territory)

I arrived in Heerlen to meet Joe, my friend who’d just moved to the Limburg area and Roda are going to be his new local club.

A quick stop off for a few beers at his house and to meet up with Joe’s brother in law Gaz (who’d driven from Brussels just for the match) and we set off trying to find the bus to town.
€3.55 (or £3.55 in the current exchange rate) for a single trip of about 5 minutes I thought was a bit steep, but it got us into the the central square where all the bars were.




€1 for a small (I mean small 180ml) beer more than made up for the bus trip.




The Parkstad Limburg stadion can be soon a long way off, it’s vast floodlights illuminate the darkness of the car park and shops that surround the ground.



It’s a tidy, modern and pretty big stadium for the size of the club that Roda are.
It’s based in what I suppose is a “leisure park” and has a cinema, shops, restaurants and even a casino.

The latter came in very handy as for some reason, nowhere in Holland takes MasterCard, Amex or Visa and I had no cash!
Luckily the Casino let me buy credit to play roulette with my card and I ended up leaving €25 up.



After that we found the supporters bar under one of the stands and met a really good set of home fans (The best part of the night, as you’ll soon hear about the uneventful match itself) until kick off when we went into the ground.




About the match itself, uneventful is overselling it somewhat.
We thought we were in for a cracker as the home team scored before we’d even reached our seats.
Livio Milts blasted home a pass from star man Mario Engles.
Unfortunately though, it peaked early...very early!





That was pretty much the only thing that happened in the first half.

Credit to the Roda fans on the Koempel tribune they made themselves heard, even if the rest of the 6,535 crowd didn’t.





I didn’t see or hear any away fans in the ground but I could be wrong.

It’s probably one of the longest trip in the Netherlands at 660km (round trip) so I can understand why very few or any at all made the journey.




The second half continued in much the same vain really, minimal chances from both sides until the end when Cambuur made the home keeper work to defend Roda’s lead.





All in all it was a poor game, the standard was fairly similar to that of the Wycombe vs AFC Wimbledon game that I covered in December.
Not that the home fans will mind as it was vital win for Roda in their hunt for a playoff place.




After the game we headed into the supporters bar within the main stand, named ‘The Mine Shaft’ where for some reason even though the game had finished you still needed to buy tokens from the concourse to get a beer. (They like to make it hard to buy a beer at football in Europe it seems). 

Thereafter it’s all a bit of a blur, but I do remember buying chips and mayo at about 3am back in the Heerlen Market square. (For some reason Ordering them in broken German rather than Dutch, or English, which would have been easier)

There was a big day ahead as we were off to Germany to watch Schalke so it was off to bed for me.

Hope you all enjoyed it, Germany next week. So look out for it.

Jamie


P.S
I didn't get a chance to meet Pim, another Roda fan but he was nice enough to send me some bits about him and his club, I asked him similar questions to Rob and his answers are below




About Me

My first match of Roda JC has to be around 2009 or 2010. My neighbour had some relations at the club and she gave me some free tickets for a match. I have been born and raised in Kerkrade, but I never previously interested myself in football. But I went to that game with one of my best friends and I really enjoyed myself.
After that my neighbour would regularly get us  tickets to home matches of Roda JC, and I really started to like the game and the club.
I am, for the eight year in row, a season ticket holder. I watch every game with my friends on the Koempeltribune (West side).

I try to make it to every home game, because it is my passion, but for the last two years I have lived in Tilburg for my school. Every week I travel like 2.5 hours with the train to see my beloved Roda JC. Sometimes, because the trains don’t run or I don’t have time because of i’m studying, I can’t go. But that has only happened four times until now. (including the match against Cambuur).

The club is more than just a club for me. The fans, the stadium and the people give me a special thing in life. If I had a wife, I would call Roda JC my second love, haha. Since this year I’m not only watching the game from the stands. I’m part of the press for my own fanpage (Roda_Tweets). And my study – journalism –  has opened this specific door for me.

Because I have to travel quite far, I don’t have a daily matchday routine anymore. Back when I lived in Kerkrade, I did often grab some beers before the kickoff in the stadium with some friends or we went to take a pizza or a hamburger before the game.



The club
Roda JC is a club which has a rich and long history. Till 2000 the club played their home matches at Sportpark Kaalheide. When you see that stadium, you’ll get why Roda JC is called a club of the fans. Kaalheide is the real football culture, but the lack of security and UEFA-guidelines (and because Roda JC was a steady mid table Eredivisie-side) we moved to a new stadium. The new Parkstad Limburg Stadium (PLS), Roda JC played many European matches against Schalke 04, Valencia and the great AC Milan. The home match vs Milan for the last-16 was a defeat by ‘just’ 0-1. But in the San Siro, Roda did the unexpected. We won by 1-0, but unfortunately got knocked-out on penalties.

‘Supporting RJC is everything’, like we sing on the stands. Roda without their diehard fans would already be bankrupt. Over the last 6/7 years the fans have kept the club alive.
The board made some huge mistakes, and that’s also the reason the club moved from a steady mid table Eredivisie side to a relegation side and now this season even  a mid table club in de Keuken Kampioen Divisie (Eerste Divisie). Back in the season 2013/14 Roda fired three coaches and ended the season with the inexperienced coach Jon Dahl Tomasson. We had that season a more than great squad, but only on paper. We got relegated as number 18, the season after we played in the relegations play-offs.

In the the season after,  Roda got promoted again, but I think it wasn’t really fair. Our squad wasn’t that great, but after all we could play playoffs. In the final we beat NAC Breda over two matches, which resulted in a great promotion party on De Markt in the centre of Kerkrade.

In the following years, the board failed again. With the appointment of director Ton Caanen as the saddest choice ever. The man got himself the position with a fairytale story about a connection he could make with the big Tottenham Hotspur. He would make Roda JC the new Vitesse Arnhem (connection with Chelsea). But, that was complete bullshit. We only got ONE (!) player on trail, by the name of Kyle Walker-Peters. But the board and coach Darije Kalezic weren’t impressed by him.

After that Caanen bought players from around the world. Names like Simon Church, Simeon Raykov, Lyes Houri, Stefan Savic (no, not the one from Atletico Madrid), Nestoras Mytides and Thanasis Papazoglou came to Kerkrade. Fun fact, we loaned Beni Badibanga from Standard de Liege and he didn’t even know what Kerkrade was. In an interview he got the question ‘how does it feel to be in Kerkrade’ and he looked really confused and asked: ‘Kerklaar? Whats that?’ Well, Kerkrade was the city you were going to play your matches. And Kerklaar? That’s the right description of what was going on with our club…

Now though, we have a good director, Harm van Veldhoven. He is one of our old coaches from our late-glory-years. He knows the club and said by his appointment that he was going to improve the Youth academy. He kept his words. In matter of facts, our starting-XI got seven players who played in our youth first. But that is more of financial problems (who were created by Ton Caanen and some other directors).

The rivalry between Roda JC and MVV Maastricht is at a higher level. Roda’s rival is also Fortuna Sittard, because we share the province of South Limburg. But the rivalry with MVV is the biggest. It’s the FC of the province-capital (Maastricht) against the FC of the peoples club who’s having the biggest history (Roda). You can compare it a little bit with Ajax-Feyenoord. The fans are living towards this derby days – maybe weeks – before matchday. A move between Roda and MVV is a little bit a no-go. In 2014 Roda JC took over three MVV-players, Tom van Hyfte, Nathan Rutjes and Danny Schreurs. For Schreurs, the move was extreme. Days before the derby, fans of MVV hung-up a plastic prop with his face on his house. They would ‘kill’ him if he’d score. Roda JC put Schreurs and his wife a few days in a hotel so they weren’t in a high risk.

The merger between Roda JC and Fortuna Sittard was also including MVV Maastricht. The fans were threatening the project-leaders, so – after a few months – they shut down the talks of a merger.

I don’t think Roda JC is well supported in the Eerste Divisie. The PLS has a capacity of almost 20.000 people, but there are only about 6/7K peoples on the stands these days. In our previous Eerste Divisie-season it was twice as much, but most fans can’t relate anymore with the club and it’s players. I get why they think this, but (in special this season) you can see what way Roda JC is having for the future.
Unless we have 6/7K peoples in the stands, I think our fanbase is way bigger. One of the most frequently reasons why they aren’t on board at home matches, is that we play on friday nights. Some people can’t combine that with their job(s).

Roda JC have a friendship with the German-side Alemannia Aachen. Apart from the fact Aachen is a neighbour-city of Kerkrade, the fans found each other. They came to watch some games in the Eredivisie and some Roda fans did go and watch some Bundesliga-games in the Old Tivoli Stadium. Where Roda is ‘only’ playing in the Eerste Divisie, Alemannia got relegated to the Regional Liga West (4. Div.). But the friendship always stayed.

The competition
A spot for the Playoffs this year isn't a sure thing. There are eight clubs in the PO, but the way to play in the Dutch relegation-promotion-PO’s is very stange. I’ll try to explain:
After 38 matches, number one gets automatically promotion to the Eredivisie. Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 are getting a ticket to the PO’s (Unless it’s a Jong-team). And the Periode Kampioenen (period champions) are getting a po-ticket – more of a wildcard. I hear your brain thinking: wtf? Well, after every 9th game, there is one club who’s on top of the table. That team will get one wildcard-PO-ticket.
UNLESS: it’s a Jong-team, they cant fight for promotion, or the team on top already won a Periode, this wildcard will go to the number 2 in the period.


It’s not possible to relegate out of the Eerste Divisie. That’s also a messed up story. Five years ago a big amatureside called Achilles ’29 went from the Topklasse to the Eerste Divisie. And it did not take out very well, because they are now in big financial problems. Yet, the KNVB decided to put a relegation-rule into the Eerste Divisie and made a Tweede Divisie. VV Katwijk, at the moment of speaking, were than the table leader of the Tweede Divisie. They directly said they would not want to promote. So the KNVB put away this promotion-relegation-rule, mid season.

About the Jong-teams. Personally, I think it’s a good expansion. For the normal teams it’s bad to play against them in almost empty stadiums, but for the teams who’re having a Jong-team its good. Look to PSV and Ajax. Players in the first-teams like Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek, Donyell Malen, Steven Bergwijn and Cody Gakpo played for their own clubs every week. They have many benefits of their own squad in a lower division. For example, look to Feyenoord. They don’t have a Jong Feyenoord. All their talents have to go on loan (for example FC Dordrecht), but not nmay clubs want to take a guess with these players. They’re missing out on youth-development.

This season
I really don’t know what to think about this season. A normal fan always hopes that his team will promote back to the Eredivisie, but I don’t know. Our team is around 20 years old on average. If we promote this year, a lack of experience will break them in the Eredivisie, I think. If we can stay one more year l√≥nger in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie, I think we’ll play next year for the 1st place. And all of the youngsters will get some extra experience, so they can give an answer on Eredivisie-clubs.


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Miners

Hi everyone, it's time for part two of last months trip to the continent, this time across the border into The Netherlands to visit...