The Rotterdam derby

Rotterdam is the only city in Holland with three professional football clubs.  Eindhoven has only two clubs with PSV Eindhoven and FC Eindhoven.  Feyenoord is the most well known of the three but the other two clubs, Sparta Rotterdam and Excelsior also have interesting histories and have always played a huge role in ensuring the derby games are colorful, exciting and eventful.  The last game derby game was played between Feyenoord and Excelsior in 2012, sadly Sparta Rotterdam no longer play in the Eredivisie as they were relegated. However, Excelsior achieved promotion last season and the Rotterdam derby will return this year.

Feyenoord is located in the Feijenoord district of South Rotterdam and Excelsior is located in the Kralingen district of East Rotterdam with Sparta can be found in Spangen, a district in West Rotterdam in Delfshaven.  On a special note, Sparta is the oldest professional club in Holland, founded in 1888.  They have won six Eredivisie titles and three KNVB cups.  Excelsior sadly have won no trophies in the top flight but only some trophies in the lower divisions, but they were one of Holland’s first working class football clubs.

Traditionally the Feyenoord versus Sparta derby game is the biggest.  History and class differences have played a huge role in this.  Rotterdam unlike other Dutch cities is a working class town but while Feyenoord and Excelsior were founded in working class districts, Sparta was founded in a time in Holland when football was for the upper class only.

The Feyenoord versus Excelsior fixtures are a bit more low key now as since 1996 Excelsior has been the feeder club for Feyenoord.  Both clubs have also created a regional youth academy called Feyenoord Academy and have merged both clubs reserve teams.  Over the years Feyenoords youth academy players were able to gain important training and experience as a result.  But, for many Excelsior fans, who are strongly against the partnership, they feel that the club has sold its soul and thus for them it is a heated rivalry tho one which is not reciprocated by the fans of Feyenoord.

In the end, Rotterdam is a proudly working class town. As one Sparta fan once famously said: “Rotterdam makes all the money, the Hague divides all the money and Amsterdam wastes all the money“. 

These three football clubs bring some exciting fixtures to the season with their stadiums, fans, stories, backgrounds and colors.  The return to the Eredivisie for both Excelsior and Sparta can only be a good thing for Dutch football, the city of Rotterdam and the excitement of the league.


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