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. In 2018/2019 season Sparta earned a hard-fought promotion to the Eredivisie, the top tier of Dutch football. Although it’s not Champion League 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 Saturdays or Sundays, but occasionally on other days of the week as well. The most anticipated match of the season is obviously the city derby against Feyenoord Rotterdam, but don’t expect to get tickets to this one. Other attractive fixtures are cup games and matches against Ajax and PSV.
There is obviously a fan shop and on match days the restaurant is open (reservation needed). Some training sessions are also open to the public. If you’re visiting, as a geohydrologist I also recommend having a look at the nearby Urban Waterbuffer project, to broaden your horizons.