The history of Feyenoord Rotterdam is one which has fascinated me as a football fan, and I aim to delve deeper by looking at some of the key aspects of one of the nation’s dominant sides.

  • By Oliver Fisher
  • Follow Oliver on Twitter

 feyenoord fansd

Tradition is undoubtedly a theme that resonates through the very core of football. Whether it be a stadium, a shirt style, a pre-match ritual or a terrace chant; tradition is always there. It gives football fans an immense sense of pride for their club to be associated with something, almost branding it if you will. Tradition is the encapsulation of decades, perhaps even more than a century, of historical evolution that heightens the sense of existence of the current club.

Feyenoord are no exception to this, and it is very interesting to see the way that they have evolved over the last 106 years. However, Feyenoord technically didn’t exist until 1912, when the club changed its name from the original Wilhelmina in 1908, to Hillesluise in 1909 and then Celeritas in 1910, before becoming SC Feijenoord in 1912.

The fact the club went through four name changes in it’s first four years of existence is a remarkable piece of history alone, and emphasises the idea that evolution occurs within the football world, helping sculpt the tradition that is the focal point of many clubs.

In 1912, after becoming SC Feijenoord, the Rotterdam side changed its uniform colours to red and white shirts with black shorts and black socks. Amazingly, this tradition has stuck until this very day, 102 years on from that point, and looks likely to continue well into the future. Sometimes, the most interesting parts of football history are how teams perhaps struggled to settle on a uniform colour, or experimented with team name or crest, and how once definitively decided, these remain for years to come with nobody wishing to alter the priceless history of the team.

De Kuip, Feijenoord’s home since 1937, has a history of it’s own. For example, it was occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War, and provided shelter for supporters in the 1953 North Sea flood. The stadium, same as the club, is weaved into the tapestry of Rotterdam culture and tradition, and for many fans of Feyenoord it is their second home. The possible new stadium is a topical issue and one I plan to discuss in further detail in another article, but nevertheless it is undeniable the role that the Stadion Feijenoord has played in the history of one of Europe’s biggest teams in one of Europe’s most fascinating cities.

Feyenoord have never been relegated since the conception of the Eredivisie in 1954/55, and on the way they have won 14 Eredivisie titles (including five pre-1954), 11 Dutch Cups, a European cup and 2 UEFA Cups. Needless to say, there is a tradition and an expectation of success in Rotterdam, with the club having been one of the powerhouses of the Dutch game since the beginning of it’s very existence. Supporters today see the success of past sides that their Fathers or Grandfathers witnessed; hoping the young team of today can replicate that success and send Feyenoord to catastrophic highs once again. Expectation, while simultaneously hope, are key themes at Feijenoord amongst the avid supporters.

Speaking of supporters, there is a tradition of high support in Rotterdam which has existed for generations. The club have had a fantastic away following for decades, the pinnacle of which was arguably in 1963 when around 3000 fans travelled on boat, train or car to Lisbon to see their team play Benfica in the European Cup. Perhaps it was in 1996, when Feyenoord took 15,000 fans to Monchengladbach. There is also a tradition of having fantastic home support too, with games at De Kuip regularly selling out with noisy supporters packed to the rafters to cheer on their team. A quarter of a million people showed up to celebrate the last Eredivisie title in 1999, and that statistic alone demonstrates how much the team means to the city.

After all, that is what football is about, right? Associating yourself with a team, be it geographic, family ties or admiration, and sticking with them to the bitter end. You may have to endure gut-wrenching lows, but on the other end there is the eternal hope of the dizzying highs of 1970 or 2002. Feyenoord is the team of the people of Rotterdam, and that will never change.

Back to the theme of tradition, and it is impossible to talk about Feyenoord without mentioning the opening day at De Kuip. Every season, fans from all over the Netherlands come to see their team train as the squad for the upcoming season is presented to them. Also, there are lots of promotional activities such as tours, chances to meet the players, band performances and other entertainment to make it a special day for the Feyenoord supporter. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all bouncy castles and fun slides, and the pyrotechnics on show are quite staggering, but it is a perfect example of how the club wants to connect with it’s supporters, and quite simply how the supporters crave further connection with their club. A fantastic and long-admired initiative, as well as a proud piece of tradition, it looks set to continue long into the future for sure.

Feyenoord are renowned for having some of the world’s best fans, and this view is strongly reinforced given the tradition I am about to mention. In 2013/14 it was all about Rooie Marck, a terminally ill supporter who came to the opening day despite not being able to even stand up from his hospital trolley. As the other fans welcomed their team onto the pitch, a giant banner was unveiled paying tribute to Rooie, singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as Marck struggled to hold back the tears. Then, remarkably, he got up and walked towards the supporters, and the players came over to embrace him. He thought of the players as his heroes, but that day, everyone thought Rooie was the real hero. Three days later, he sadly passed away, and the fans lined the streets of Rotterdam to say goodbye to their fallen comrade one more time.

With that message, Feyenoord supporters continued to show why they are, in my opinion, the best supporters in the world. The tradition lives on; once you are a Feyenoord supporter, you are part of the brotherhood, and that never changes. Feyenoord now = Feyenoord forever.

Dedicated to Rooie Marck, and other fallen Feyenoord supporters. Rest in peace, never forgotten.

Oliver Fisher (9 Posts)

Aspiring Sports Journalist and huge football fan, from Leeds, England. Follow @olifisher on Twitter