An Aussie abroad: de Klassieker in Amsterdam

by Justin Cormick

Don’t worry about a thing
Cos every little thing gonna be alright
Singing, don’t worry about a thing
Cos every little thing gonna be alright

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Sunday afternoon local time saw Ajax Amsterdam defeat bitter rivals Feyenoord in the recent Klassieker fixture. It is always a heated contest, on and off the pitch, and I was there at the Amsterdam ArenA to witness it all.

There are a number of Football fans like myself in Australia, whose only experiences with European football consists of waking up at 4am to watch it on the tellie. But I was determined to change that, and have left Australia for a few months and plan to travel across Europe and watch the best football on offer.

This was a must win match for both clubs, Ajax lost the previous round to AZ and Feyenoord to Twente. It was a chance for each team to get back to winning ways and to also get one over their bitter rivals. Feyenoord got off to a good start, with Italian striker Graziano Pelle scoring in the sixth minute. Feyenoord were awarded a free-kick to the side of Ajax’s goal-box. The ball was whipped in and headed down by Rotterdam defender Joris Mathijsen, and some poor defending gave Pelle an easy goal-line tap in.

Ajax struggled to obtain their usually dominant possession after the Feyenoord goal. The away side had gained confidence in attack and were looking threatening. However, Ajax was slowly regaining their grip on the game, with a number of chances falling to Fischer, Alderweireld and Eriksen.

Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying, this is my message to you

In recent seasons Ajax has been the dominant team in Dutch Football. But the rivalry grew in a time when the two clubs were more competitive with each other. Ajax made their first European Cup final in 1969, the first for any Dutch club, but lost to AC Milan. One year later Feyenoord made the final and won it.

Amsterdam supporters will say they were the first Dutch club to make the European Cup final, but Rotterdam fans will say they were the first Dutch club to win it. Of course Ajax went on to win the next three finals in a row, which Feyenoord cannot even compete with.

Ajax manager De Boer needed his players to take responsibility for the game, and that is exactly what happened in the thirtieth minute. Viktor Fischer dribbled the ball dangerously into the Feyenoord box, and was taken down by the Rotterdam defence. To the cheering of the Ajax supporters referee Bjorn Kuipers awarded a penalty. Icelandic striker Sighthorsson stood up and slotted the ball away to the keeper’s right.

“SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG!”

was chanted around the Amsterdam ArenA.

Singing, don’t worry about a thing
Cos every little thing gonna be alright
Singing, don’t worry (don’t worry) about a thing
Cos every little thing gonna be alright

Ajax’s momentum continued to increase, and Kolbeinn Sighthorsson scored a second goal minutes later. Wing-back Ligeon pushed up into attack and crossed the ball into the box where the leaping Sighthorsson got a head to it. The ball was fired off the striker’s head onto the cross bar and bounced towards the goal-line.

The Amsterdam supporters celebrated with a subdued cheer, but as soon as referee Kuipers awarded the goal the ArenA exploded with noise. The replay on the giant screens hanging from the roof of the stadium showed that the ball had crossed the line, but only just. After a slow start Ajax had taken the lead in the 37th minute.

“SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG, SIG!”

The most infamous Klassieker match took place in 1997. An Ajax fan, Carlo Picorinie was beaten to death by Feyenoord supporters in the town of Beverwijk. As a result Dutch laws were altered to prevent such tragedy from happening again. In recent seasons no away supporters are allowed to attend de Klassieker fixtures, meaning the 53 thousand capacity stadium was full up with Ajax fans for Sunday’s match.

The crowd’s attention was taken away from the match shortly after the second goal. A green flair, Feyenoord’s away strip colour, was lit in the Amsterdam crowd only a few rows along from my seat. A short while later a number of spectators began making noise. They were banging on the plastic barriers and shouting at Ajax fans. The consensus amongst the crowd was that they were probably Feyenoord supporters who snuck in. They eventually left and the crowd’s attention returned once more to the match as the first half drew to a close with Ajax 2-1 up.

The second half was a goalless 45 minutes of football, but both sides created a number of chances. Ajax held much of the possession but failed to capitalise on any chances they could create. Feyenoord challenged Ajax a number of times on the counter but could not get the ball past Vermeer in the Amsterdam goal.

The 2-1 score-line helps Ajax to get their season back-on-track. But Feyenoord have now lost 3 in a row. And defeat at the hands of Ajax makes it even more embarrassing. The fulltime whistle was blown, and as is the custom, Bob Marly was pumped through the ArenA’s speakers with the 50 thousand strong Ajax crowd signing along.

Singing, don’t worry about a thing
Cos every little thing gonna be alright, I won’t worry
Singing, don’t worry (don’t worry) about a thing
Cos every little thing gonna be alright
Singing, don’t worry (don’t worry) about a thing, oh no
Cos every little thing gonna be alright

Author Info

Justin Cormick

Justin Cormick

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