Sparta Rotterdam: the Netherlands’ Oldest Professional Football Club

Sparta Rotterdam Ultras
Source: Twitter

Founded in 1888, Sparta Rotterdam is the oldest professional football club in the Netherlands. The team is based in Spangen in the western part of Rotterdam. Sparta was originally a cricket club.

Club History

Sparta Rotterdam

Sparta came into existence in 1888 as a cricket club. Several students from the city of Rotterdam founded a cricket club known as Rotterdamsche Cricket and Football Club Sparta. In July 1889, the football branch started.

In 1890, Sparta Rotterdam started playing football. The club started 20 years earlier than city rivals Feyenoord. The first game the club ever played was against Kralingen. Sparta won by 6-0.  

Club Colors: Sunderland FC

In 1899, a delegation of Sparta Rotterdam officials visited a Sunderland football match. The Black Cat’s kit really impressed them. As a result, they settled on Sunderland’s colors of red-white striped jersey and black shorts. Henceforth, those remained the colors of the team from Sparta.

Due to their red and white colors, they are nicknamed De Rood-Witte Gladiatoren (The Red-White Gladiators) or De Kasteelheren (The Castle Lords).

Het Kasteel

Het Kasteel
Dick Aalders / CC BY-SA

The Sparta Stadium is known as Het Kasteel and was opened in 1916. Moreover, it was the first football stadium in the Netherlands. The unique name originated from a part of the famous stadium that looks like a castle. Hence, the name ‘Het Kasteel’. The Castle was renovated in 1999 and can now accommodate up to 11,926 seats.

The city of Rotterdam is the football capital of the Netherlands. Aside from Sparta, it is also home to Feyenoord and Excelsior.

Sparta Rotterdam Ultras: Spangenarem

Spangenarem is Sparta’s most active ultras. They have their own section in the castle. You will find them in section 16.

They can be seen with their red and white tifo as well as the flags and scarves. The Spangenarem are fierce rivals with arch-rivals Fayenoord’s Het Legioen ultras. When they meet it is always an electric atmosphere.

Even at their toughest time, the Sparta Rotterdam fans have stuck with their club and supported them throughout. They got relegated and came back but the fans still stayed and cheered on.

Win, draw, or lose, they are Sparta for life!

The Rotterdam Derby

The city of Rotterdam is the only Dutch city with three professional football clubs. The Rotterdam Derby refers to games of two of any of the city’s clubs. They include Sparta Rotterdam, Feyenoord, and Excelsior.

However, the derby has been watered down because of their performance. Excelsior has been up and down the top and lower divisions while Sparta Rotterdam hasn’t been able to stay on top like their main rivals Feyenoord.

However, when the two teams meet its always an electric affair.

Sparta Rotterdam vs. Feyenoord

The game between Feyenoord and Sparta Rotterdam is considered as the biggest game in the city because of the tradition that they share.

This rivalry is based on historical class differences. When Sparta Rotterdam was formed in 1888, football in Holland was a higher-class sport. Sparta’s rival, on the other hand, was formed 20 years later. It was in the middle of the lower-class district Feijenoord.

This huge difference in culture and upbringing bore a fierce rivalry that created a lot of friction between the two sides of the divide.

Old-Age, Rich Tradition, and the Modern Game

Sparta Rotterdam is the oldest football team in the Netherlands and they have not changed. They have stuck with their values and rich tradition.

Despite the influence of modern sport and the huge spending in the world of football, Sparta has managed to stay afloat with a minimalist budget.

Sparta Rotterdam is the true definition of an old team with class and rich tradition.

Midfielder @ Hooligan F.C.

Donald Maloba is a Kenyan football writer and former football player. He eats, sleeps, and breathes football. He supports AFC Leopards.

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