Being a port city, Rotterdam is decidedly working-class. Since football is the working-class sport, Rotterdam is unique among the Dutch cities in having three(!) professional football clubs. Sparta Rotterdam is the oldest professional football club in the Netherlands, established back in 1888. Its home stadium, called Het Kasteel – meaning The Castle – is the oldest football stadium in the country. It’s pretty obvious how it got its name, just look at the photo.
Sparta’s golden age is very much a thing of the past. Sparta won the national championship 6 times, but its last title was all the way back in 1959. Nowadays, Sparta plays in the Eerste Divisie, the second-highest tier of football in the Netherlands. Although it’s not Champion Leagues stuff, these are still hard-hitting gladiators of professional football on the pitch here. A notable name in Sparta’s squad is Royston Drenthe, who played 5 seasons for Real Madrid.
Matches are usually played on Friday evenings, but occasionally on other days of the week as well. The most attractive ones are probably cup fixtures and matches against the reserve teams of Ajax, PSV and AZ, that also play in the Eerste Divisie. These matches give the opportunity to see the future stars of the Dutch football, most of them youngsters from the own academies.
Some of Sparta’s training sessions are also open to the public. If you’re visiting, as a geohydrologist I also recommend to have a look at the nearby Urban Waterbuffer project, to broaden your horizons.