Ajax versus Feyenoord – De Klassieker (‘The Classic’) – is the biggest match in Dutch football and one of world football’s fiercest rivalries. “While Amsterdam dreams, Rotterdam works”, goes the saying…in Rotterdam. The port team’s club Feyenoord has little time for Amsterdam’s artistry. This could be reflected in the way the two teams play – hard-working Feyenoord versus total football Ajax.
This fixture has produced fan casualties over the years, to the point where away fans have now been banned, producing an eerie one-sidedness in the ground.
To fully understand De Klassieker, or indeed Dutch football in general, read Ajax by Simon Kuper or Brilliant Orange by David Winner. Both are great insights from Amsterdam-based writers.
The atmosphere at Amsterdam ArenA
Without travelling fans it is impossible to get context on ferocity of the Ajax-Feyenoord rivalry, but the partisan Amsterdammers were in good voice throughout, led by the protagonists and drummers in the upper south stand. [Continues]
A huge banner was unfurled at the north end before kick off, which added to the spectacle, and even a couple of songs in English (albeit with thick Dutch accepts): “When they hear the Ajax sing, the Feyenoord run away AGAIN!…” and “If you all hate Feyenoord clap your hands…” [Continues]
The game itself was a massive disappointment. When I was growing up, the Ajax of Louis Van Gaal competed at a European level – Uefa Cup winners in 1992, European Cup winners in 1995. During this period, names to grace the Ajax red and white included Marc Overmars (now a half-time compere at Ajax), Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, and current management team Frank de Boer and Dennis Bergkamp. Feyenoord too were pretty good, winning the Uefa Cup in 2002.
This 2015 crop will struggle to make an impact at a European level. Both are in the last 32 of the Europa League but if they play like they did in this game they won’t add the trophy to their impressive respective cabinets.
How to get to Amsterdam ArenA
From Amsterdam Centraal station, take the no.54 metro towards Gein. It takes just 15 minutes to get to Bijlmer ArenA stop. The one before, Strandvliet, is also useful.
I used the brilliant Visit Ajax website to order my ticket to this hot fixture weeks in advance. You book online (I paid around €85 – the price varies according to opponent) and pick up tickets at the Welcome Centre at Gate E. You get a ticket, scarf and match day programme, so worth it.
Then you queue up to get though the gates, which can take a while as everyone gets a pat down. The atmosphere around the ground is very beery. Lots of broken glass, cans and pissoirs, while I heard a couple of firecrackers nearby.
Once inside, note that the drinks and food counters do not take cash. You have to buy tokens (minimum €10) or have a Dutch debit card.
All in all, Ajax has made it very easy for overseas visitors to enjoy watching the club while in Amsterdam.