On July 17th, Sheffield Wednesday will play a friendly match against Dutch first division club Go Ahead Eagles from Deventer in Holland.
Vital SWFC talked to Eagles super-fan Erik Haverkamp ahead of the Owls tour to get the lowdown on the club, the town, Eagles players and much more.
Could you give Owls fans an introduction to Go Ahead Eagles since this may be the first time we’ve heard of the club?
Go Ahead Eagles is a relative small club in Holland, founded back in 1902. At the start they were just called ‘Go Ahead’, but in 1971 the coach, the Welshman Barry Hughes (former player of West Bromwich Albion), added the word ‘Eagles’ to the club name. GAE plays in De Adelaarshorst stadium (translated: The Eagle’s Nest) which now has a small capacity of 6400, but it will be extended in a few years. The stadium once had a capacity of 24000.
GAE has won the Dutch title four times, back in the 30s (last title in 1933) and played once in the European Cup (now called the UEFA Cup) in 1965. They played against Celtic but lost twice.
The club is well known for their fanatical supporters and great (young) players. We produced players like Marc Overmars (who is now on the board of GAE), Jan Kromkamp (ex-Liverpool, now PSV), Bert van Markwijk (ex-coach of Bor. Dortmund in Germany), Henk ten Cate (now the coach of Ajax), Paul Bosvelt (ex Manchester City and now SC Heerenveen) and the now young star Demy de Zeeuw (AZ Alkmaar).
How is the team doing? How many fans come to a match? Who would you say are your big rivals?
The team is doing, compared to the past 3 years, very well. They’ve won a period-title (which means that you have to be the best club over 6 matches) and finished 7th in the league this year. They entered the play offs for promotion to the Dutch Premier League but were eliminated in the 1st round.
Next year the club wants to aim for a top 5 position and, with a bit of luck, promotion within 3 years. This year we almost had a great cup adventure but we lost at PSV Eindhoven 3-2: it was live on television and everybody could see how good GAE was! 😉
GAE this year had a few sold-out matches, which means the stand was loaded with 6400 supporters. The average number of fans coming to a GAE match was this year around the 4500 mark (in Holland a good crowd for the first division).
GAE’s biggest rival is FC Zwolle (in Deventer known as ‘Olle’). Zwolle is a town 40 km away from Deventer, so it’s a real derby. Unfortunately the match against Zwolle is so big that every match against them there are big riots, hundreds of military police in Deventer and a lot of arrests.
Another rival is FC Twente, but because they play Premier League and GAE has played in the first division for over 10 years that rivalry has cooled down (if you know what I mean).
Who are the Eagles players to watch out for?
Our striker and topscorer Sjoerd Ars (he scored 18 goals in his first season at GAE this year), winger Patrick Ax who has a great technique, and the central defender Marco Parnela (from Finland). Unfortunately we lost our best player in January: Frenchman Loic Loval went to Premier League club FC Utrecht.
Which other teams will you play in pre-season?
In the pre-season we also play against Ajax Amsterdam, SC Heerenveen and Excelsior Rotterdam (and some amateur clubs).
I understand we won’t be playing at De Adelaarshorst stadium (which looks great!) but one in Terwolde?
I don’t know why GAE-SWFC is not in the Adelaarshorst stadium: too bad, it would be great, a sold-out match. The match will be played in Terwolde at amateur club FC Terwolde (no stadium, but maybe they’ll build some stands for this match!).
Where in Holland is Deventer? Is it easy to find from the coast and from Amsterdam (most Owls will probably arrive via those routes!)?
Deventer is located in the east of Holland, but as you know Holland is a small country so by train you can reach Deventer in 70 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station. Every 30 minutes a train departs to Deventer (you need to take the intercity which goes through Deventer to Enschede). I think in Deventer you can take the bus to Terwolde (5km from Deventer). On second thoughts, get a taxi, it’ll be better to do that!
What are the good things to see and do in the area?
Go to the centre of Deventer to the main square, ‘De Brink’. It has around 20 cafés/pubs and some restaurants. Sightseeing in Deventer is a must for people who like old and historic buildings. Deventer has the oldest stone house in Holland. Deventer is located at the side of the Ijssel river. In the summer, it’s a great sight!
Those are quite some questions, but I love to promote The Eagles 🙂
You’ve done a great job! Many thanks, Erik, for taking the time to write to us. Owls fans, if you spot him on the Vital SWFC forum (nickname ‘Aguila’), be sure to say hello!