Rooire Marck was a lifelong Feyenoord supporter and a popular and much loved member of the club’s legendary supporter group known as Het Legioen. Sadly, Rooire had been battling cancer and had been told by doctors that he had little time left to live. After hearing this, Rooire had one wish which was to see Feyenoord once more… writes Andries Oosterveen.
Feyenoord is a club like no other in Holland or Europe for that. The predictable thing to do would have been to hold one minutes silence, write something in the programme or send a signed t-shirt with one or two players to the hospital. One of the many things that makes Feyenoord really special is that the fans turn up in large numbers no matter if the team is playing well or bad and even if it is just a friendly. The tickets always sell out within minutes.
It is a Feyenoord tradition that fans turns up in their hundreds if not thousands to the first training session of the new season. They put on a spectacular pyro show, sing songs and greet both new and returning players. This is not a family day out to the beach. However the 2013/14 season was not about the players but about Rooire Marck. Rooire was at the training session, on a hospital trolley with family and friends. He was too ill to even stand up. He watched from the side as supporters in the stands welcomed the players on to the field by setting off lots of flares. Rooire could not just lie there, so he summoned up all his strength and stood up with the roars of the fans and chants also motivating him. He applauded the players with a huge smile on his face and a tear in his eye. However, there was a nice surprise in store for him, planned by his fellow supporters.
His fellow supporters had not forgotten him and what he was going through and revealed a huge banner with a drawing of Rooire on it. At the same time, they hurled beach balls into the air and set off flares and smoke bombs in tribute to one of their own. They showed their support even more by singing the most passionate version of Liverpool FCs anthem “You Will Never Walk Alone“.
Despite the seriousness of Rooire’s illness, what happened next was amazing. As he walked with his family and friends to the opposite side of the stadium whilst holding a flag, the Feyenoord players came on to show their respect and tribute to one of their biggest fans. The whole squad lined up to shake hands and embrace the man who thought of them as heroes and presented him with his own t-shirt. Rooire then delivered a passionate speech to the players whilst thumping the Feyenoord badge on his shirt.
As he then got closer and closer to the fans, they roared louder and louder. More songs were sung for Rooire and the stadium was filled with smoke from more pyro in his honour. The chants of “Come on Rooire, Come on Rooire” filled the air. When he was almost 20 yards from the fans he pushed away his family and friends who had been supporting him and walked the final steps and blew kisses to the fans whilst again thumping the Feyenoord badge on his shirt. He then led the crowd in the chant of “Feyenoord Till I Die” and thanked them all for their amazing support.
Todays football is all about television deals, merchandising, making profits and keeping shareholders happy. Fans are just seen as customers sadly. The story of Rooire Marck is a strong reminder of what football is really about and again another reference as to why Feyenoord football club and its fans are the best in Holland and quite possibly Europe.