ADO Den Haag Stadion, The Hague
Eredivisie: ADO Den Haag – Heracles Almelo 1-4
It is as if our Sparta-trip from a year ago was only yesterday when we board the Benelux train on this cold Sunday morning in Antwerp Central station. Because Christmas football in the Netherlands was dropped after only a few seasons, we have renamed our annual “Christmas Hop” to “Advent Hop”. The wind chill does take us back to our first Christmas Hop 4 years ago at RBC, though back then it was still a few degrees colder than now. After half an hour’s drive, we arrive at the station of Roosendaal where we are joined by the guys who live in the North of the Antwerp. Actually this is the majority of our group. The trip today is akin to an expedition and goes towards “Hofstad”. Due to works on the track, we are forced to change in Rotterdam and take the train towards Gouda where we take yet another train to the Hague. Luckily, this does not affect the atmosphere as none of us wants to miss the annual December appointment with the Eredivisie.
We start our visit to the seat of the Dutch Government with a trip ot the ATM and a walk through the city centre. I pose for a sex shop that carries my name and after a round of “Haringhappen” and a picture of the inner court, we believe the time has come to find a pub. After tasting some winter beers and admiring how a jackdaw strips a cookie from its packaging before eating it, we order a mini van that brings us to the stadium. During the ride I fearfully watch the taxi meter which is going up very quickly after just a few minutes ‘ drive . Thankfully there are six of us so I can reconcile myself to some extent with the amount due. We have agreed to meet Ming in front of the stadium. Over the past few years we have seen many boasting emails from him about the fan culture at ADO. We expect to see a rugged gentleman but Ming looks pretty civilized for someone with a self-confessed “serious supporters past”.
The stadium of ADO The Hague is located on the Forepark Business Park on the outskirts of the city near the junction of the A4 and A12 motorways. After parting with the Zuiderpark after 80 years, ADO opened the new, as yet unnamed Stadium, in the summer of 2007. The departure from the old and the move into the new stadium happened unfortunately on a low note. The last game in Zuiderpark on april 22 2007 against FC Groningen was stopped early due to violence. When the team made its entry in the new soccer temple on the Forepark they had been relegated to the First Division or “Jupiler League”.
Because the Hague supporters Legion has a somewhat bad reputation, the emphasis in the new home was mainly placed on safety. Thanks to modern techniques club and government hope to keep unwanted individuals away from the stadium. People that make a request for a club card of ADO Den Haag are thoroughly vetted while the access control is using modern techniques such as facial recognition. Within the stadium there might even be more cameras than in the whole of the media park in Hilversum and thanks to an ingenious microphone system almost everything sung and shouted in the stands is registered and analysed. Big Brother is watching you!
The stadium with the shiny metal exterior has 15,000 seats and is designed for a possible extension to 27,000. A cantilevered roof covers 3 out of 4 stands while the roof of the main stand, where the boxes and business seats are located, is carried by the main building behind it. Inside the stadium the predominantly dark green color of the chairs dominates the view. In the middle of the stand where we sit, The Haaglanden Stand, the green field is broken by the white, yellow and black from the club logo. The most colorful part of the stadium however is the 15 metres wide passage with catering facilities around the playing field under the stands. By the numerous murals in mainly – unsurprisingly – green and yellow, you can imagine yourself on a “mural tour” of Belfast instead of entering a stadium. The club shop we had expected much larger, the prices of the offered merchandising much lower.
After we pass the necessary checks while entering the stadium we decide to attend to our growling stomachs before the game starts. I can hardly do that with the little “Unox sandwiches” but as it will soon be a quarter past four I opt to satisfy my football needs first. We are looking for our seats and I lose count when going over the number of visible cameras lined up in the stadium.
The abbreviation ADO stands for “Alles Door Oefening – All through practice” and was the name by which a group of friends christened their club in 1905. It would be 2 years before ADO who effectively also play competitively. The first game in Zuiderpark, 20 years after the founding of the club, was a derby against fellow The Hague club VIOS and was held 18 October 1925. Because the municipality of the Hague was dreaming of one big club, ADO merged in the 1970s with local club Holland Sport. The merger resulted in a name change so that from 1 april 1971 “FC Den Haag” was the biggest club in The Hague. This name remained until in 1996 again a merger was approved, this time between the Mother Association HSV ADO and the foundation FC Den Haag. After having played in red and green since the last merger the yellow and green was again reinstated along with the ADO name. The Hagenezen have not been able to celebrate many successes in their 105-year anniversary. The club was champion 2 times in a row during the war years and won 2 League cups: a first time as ADO in 1968 and a second time as FC Den Haag in 1975. No less than 6 times they lost a Cup final, the last time in 1987 against Ajax Amsterdam. Over the past 20 seasons ADO never ranked higher than the 10th place and they even played for 12 years on the second level. After winning the Eerste Divisie play offs and the accompanying promotion in 2008, last season the “Hofstedelingen” managed a handsome 14th place. This season the Hague lost as many as 6 of the 8 games played at home and dangle, together with NEC and Willem II, just above the direct relegation place which is occupied by RKC Waalwijk.
The visitors from Almelo fare a lot better this season: the “Heraclieden” of trainer Gertjan Verbeek surprised friend and foe with a provisional 6th place in the ranking for a few months now. The double Dutch champion of 1927 and 1941 is after years of Eerste Divisie football now starting their 5th consecutive season at the highest level. The club never finished higher than 13th place in recent seasons and is commonly known as a typical “home club”. This season, however, the guys from Almelo already recorded 4 victories in 8 away games. A luxury to which the people in the East of the Netherlands are not used to.
After a winless streak of ten games unrest has crept into the Hague ranks. The latest episode in this soap is the surprising addition of enfant terrible Ricky van den Bergh to the starting line up. Van den Bergh was suspended by the club until after Christman because of persistent misconduct but apparently coach Atteveld was not aware of this internal measure. The visitors from Almelo are on a strong string of results which does wonders for their self-confidence. Both teams also have a compatriot in defense. At the home club that’s Timothy Derijck, at Heracles Birger Maertens.
It is a 6-minute wait before the first shot at goal but ADO-attacker Verhoek cannot get the ball over goalkeeper Pieckenhagen. What Verhoek for ADO fails to do, Bas Dost manages barely one minute later on the other side. Dost gets too much space at the far post where he can freely head a cross from Douglas into the net. Heracles takes command of the game after that early lead with a strong Douglas on the right side and comes close to the 0-2 when Everton, after bad back pass from van den Bergh get as great chance. Everton squanders the chance but makes up for this moments later when he finds Dost in the middle and Dost scores his second of the game with a low shot. ADO has no answer to the Almelo attacks and is dangerous only once when 5 minutes before the break Lex Immers shoots over the bar.
After the 15 minutes break the home players returned to the pitch well motivated. ADO takes charge of the game and the first shot by van den Bergh in the 46th minute misses by an inch. A few moments later ADO comes even closer to a goal when the German goalkeeper of Heracles misjudges a ball but apparently the goal just doesn’t want to fall. Headers by Buijs (52 ‘) and Derijck (57 ‘) also fall short. A minute later, Heracles-defender Breukers suffers a head wound after a duel with the overly enthusiastic Milic but after a short intervention he can continue. Just past the hour our compatriot Derijck manages a weak shot on target and 10 minutes later the deserved ADO goal is finally scored albeit with the help of Heracles defender Looms. Two minutes later the equalizer is almost there, were it not that the young Vicento runs under the ball instead of putting his head against it. The 75th minute is approaching and along with part of the audience we count off for the infamous “Haags Kwartiertje”. The last 15 minutes of the game where ADO, traditionally, shifts into a higher gear. It would be a disappointing 15 minutes. Although ADO is still trying to score the equalizer they also create a lot of space for the opponent to run into. When the Heracles standout Overtoom uses that space and rushes towards goalkepper Diteweg he is fouled, just outside the rectangle, he is fouled, just outside the rectangle by Mitchell Piqué. Everyone is expecting a straight red but referee Kuipers is mild and only conjures up the yellow card. A wrong decision by the man in the black but when Vejinovic curls the free kick behind Diteweg justice is served. ADO’s humiliation is complete when Overtoom puts the exaggerated 1-4 on the scoreboard in injury time.
The ADO public is not happy but all in all in a pretty civilized this afternoon. A female steward had to jump away from a firecracker, visiting player Douglas was “honored” with the banana song and a single seat was thrown on the pitch.
After the game we pose in front of one of the beautiful murals in the stadium and we greet the statue of club legend Aad Mansveld (1944-1991) behind the stand named after him. Mansveld was an extraordinarily easy scoring libero (69 goals) and played 459 times for his beloved the Hague. Once he even managed a hat-trick in the European game against West Ham United in 1976. Mansveld also collected 6 caps for the Dutch national team during the 1970s. The greatest player The Hague ever knew died on 5 december 1991 after a lingering illness. The wet dream of every supporter of ADO Den Haag is undoubtedly to see the stadium renamed as “Aad Mansveld Stadium”.
Before we say goodbye to our guide Ming he shows us proudly his stone on the Hague’s Heroes ‘ square. Important players from the club history were given their own stone but the supporters as well were offered the opportunity to buy a stone with a personal imprint.
Because in and around the stadium an alcohol ban is in effect we head back towards town to up the alcohol level in our blood in the coziness of a warm pub. On the way to the main train station, we buy a few more six-packs for the long train ride and we grab a few culinary refreshments from the wall. It’s all part of our annual Christmas Hop at the northern neighbours.
Voetbal International: seizoensgids 2009/2010.
“Het Stadioncomplex”. REURINK Ferry, uitg. Het Sporthuis