Five reasons why we’d love Sparta to be an Eredivisie side again
Sparta are currently contenders in the Dutch Jupiler League to win the title and thus direct promotion to the Eredivisie, after an absence of several years at the highest level. To mark their 125th anniversary today, here are five reasons why the Rotterdam-based side belong at the highest level of Dutch football.
1 – Age
Sparta Rotterdam are the oldest professional football club in the Netherlands, having been founded in 1888; that’s 125 years ago. The side originally began as a cricket club, founded by a few students, starting a football branch a few months later to accommodate the wishes of other members. A few years later, in 1893, Sparta was promoted to the highest tier of Dutch football at that time.
2 – Youth academy
For all the praise Ajax and, recently, Feyenoord receive for their respective academies, Sparta receive very little despite having one of the best youth academies in the Netherlands for a good few decades. Several (former) internationals have come through the Spartan ranks, with names like Strootman, Bogarde, Blind and Doesburg coming to mind, and there will certainly be more to come knowing their impressive production rate.
3 – Former managers
Not only have Sparta had some inspirational players but they’ve also featured some real legendary managers in Dutch football. From Henk ten Cate to Willem van Hanegem to Frank Rijkaard to Wiel Coerver, they’ve all managed the club from Spangen. And the list goes on and on. It makes you wonder why the side managed to only win six Dutch titles with the amount of talent on the field and on the bench they’ve had throughout the years.
4 – Het Kasteel
If anything is a testament to the club’s great age and image, it’s their home ground, Het Kasteel (The Castle). The 11,026 seater stadium is located right in the heart of the Rotterdam neighbourhood of Spangen and was built in 1916. The characteristic castle-like gate, which the stadium was named for, is the only piece remaining of the original design but it’s enough to portray the club’s classy yet working class image.
5 – Fan culture
Quite possibly the greatest reason of all is Sparta’s profound fan culture. The club is packed with all sorts of quirky yet interesting events and people, stretching from a yearly dinner for supporters of the club called het rood-witte mannendiner (the red-white men’s dinner) to the club’s song the Spartamarsch and poet Jules Deelder’s frequent shouting of: “Sparta naar vóóóórruuuuhhh!” (Sparta go forward!). The club also has one of the oldest unofficial fanzines in Holland, called In The Winning Mood, which has been running since 1992; although nowadays it’s limited to a website, which is updated daily.