Just a few miles north of Amsterdam , you will find the charming fishing village of Volendam. A former seaport that once prospered on North Sea trade via the waters of the Zuider Zee (Southern Sea), today Volendam’s trade is tourism that arrives by coach or are deposited by Markermeer Lake cruise boats. Whilst these daytrippers cram the cobbled streets and waterfront in search of an old dutch world atmosphere, few are aware of an authentic dutch football experience that can be had a mere ten minutes walk away from where their coaches/boats are parked/moored.
FC Volendam or Het Andere Oranje (The Other Oranje) have just finished mid-table in 2011/12 season of the Jupiler League or Eerste Divisie. Football tourists should not expect voetbal in the Dutch second division to be of the quality of Ajax or Feyenoord . But, Eerste Divisie fixtures are always played on Friday evenings (8pm kickoffs), so as not to clash with Eredivisie fixtures. You also do not need to apply for a club members card or purchase an expensive ‘tourist ticket package’ for Eerste Divisie fixtures. So if you are planning a long weekender in Amsterdam, why not give the ‘Ajax Experience Tour’ (Price €17.50 for adult) a miss on the Friday and instead sample the ‘FC Volendam experience’ (Price starting €15 for adult). You can still be back in Dam Square, central Amsterdam for 11pm.
There are no trains service to Volendam, but Bus nos. 110 and 118 frequently depart from the bus station behind Amsterdam Central Station, for the 20 minute journey. Ask the bus driver for a €10 dayticket and get off at the stop, opposite Volendam’s VVV or tourist office ( 37 Zeetstraat). From here, simply follow the daytrippers to the waterfront or ‘De Dijk’.
There are a number of bars and restaurants on ‘De Dijk’ for a pre-match fish, chips and Heineken. Cafe Centraal (Haven 94a) , Cafe Sjaakies (Meerzijde 29), Cafe Motje (Dril 12) have all been recommended by locals. If there is some Dutch sounding pop music playing in the bar, this may well be the Palingsound or ‘Eelsound’ from Volendam’s most famous crooner, Jan Smit. The more adventurous of you may want also to chew on a smoked eel or be photographed in traditional Dutch dress . I just grabbed a waffle and jumped on the Marken Express (€8 adult return) for a short ferry across the Markermeer Lake to Marken. Here you will find a fishing village that is even quainter than Volendam, but not as busy.
FC Volendam play at Kras stadion (Sportlaan 10), which is tucked in a quiet residential area about ten minutes walk from ‘De Dijk’. Simply head back to the VVV office/bus stop on Zeestraat and you cannot miss the Kras stadion floodlights, as they are the tallest structures in Volendam. From the outside, the 6,200 capacity modern stadium is typically functional with everything from a bank to a fishing tackle shop, all operating from under its orange stands.
The only place to buy FC Volendam merchandise is the fan shop located at Kras stadion’s main entrance. The fanshop is only open on matchdays, 2 hours before kick off till 30 minutes after final whistle. Please note you will also need your match ticket to gain access to the Kras stadion main entrance and fan shop. The ‘Welkom bij Wedstrijd’, a handy pocket-sized 34 page match programme which is issued free as you enter the stadium , includes a list of FC Volendam merchandise, on offer at the fan shop. I understand a museum will in 2013 at Kras Stadion, under the theme of what makes Volendam special: “sports, tourism , humour, hard working and traditional clothing”.
Opposite the main entrance you will find the both the ticket office (Inlichtingen), where you can collect your match ticket and next door the small bar for the FC Volendam supporters club (Thuishaven). Inside you will find the members of the supporters group called the Pe side/Palingboeren/The Orange Army. Outside the Thuishaven was a basic floral tribute to FC Volendam’s most famous player, Dick Tol.
I did not see any away supporters (FC Eindhoven) drinking here as they were down at ‘De Dijk’ , under the watchful eye of a heavy police presence. FC Volendam do not seem to have any rivals and perhaps unique in Holland ,do not show any antipathy to their big neighbours, Ajax. On the contrary the rare meetings with Ajax were fondly remembered and created the best atmospheres experienced at the Kras stadion. FC Volendam has apparently also befriended supporters of both RKC Waalwijk and FC Zolle. Photos of the latter’s meeting earlier in the season can be seen on the excellent dutch website, footballculture.nl
My €15 ticket was in the ‘Jap Jonk-tribune’ and in the bar below the stand I picked up a photocopied teamsheet or ‘Opstelling’ with a beer, that I paid with euros rather than tokens. The ‘Pe Muhren-tribune’ to my right housed the noisy home support, whilst the upper tier of the ‘Dr Duin-tribune’ opposite appeared to be all corporate supporters. The away section was housed in NA and NB of ‘Jaap Bond-tribune’ to my left and there were more flags than supporters of FC Eindhoven. Their choreography when the players came out onto the pitch was excellent though.
Whilst FC Eindhoven were pushing for promotion , FC Volendam had nothing to play for in this last fixture of the season. Consequently, the evening was rightly dominated by a pre match end-of-season awards party and the chance to say goodbye to those players pulling on the orange shirt for the final time. Before kick-off, FC Volendam’s Jack Tuyp received an award for top scorer of the Jupiler League. During the match itself, I witnessed two of the strangest substitutions ever seen at a football match when two FC Volendam players were carried shoulder high off the pitch by their colleagues, to the applause of 4200 supporters in the stands and players, alike.
The first player substituted on 67 minutes was defender Barry Opdam who had played almost 400 professional matches at AZ Alkmaar, Red Bull Salzburg and finally FC Volendam. Such was Opdam’s popularity in dutch football , that over eighty AZ supporters attended this fixture and stood behind a huge banner stating “OPDAM, FOR ALWAYS OUR HERO”. This probably explained Opdam’s tears as he left the football pitch for the final time as a player. Then ten minutes later the same thing happened to midfielder Olaf Lindenbergh. In between all this, a football was played out and FC Volendam won 3-1, with Jack Tuyp getting goal number 20 for the season.
Getting a ticket: Fortunately, you do not need to apply for a club members card to attend Eerste Divisie fixtures. Simply email the club a few weeks prior to the fixture you are interested in attending. The club will then arrange for you to collect the ticket at the ticket office (Inlichtingen), located near the Main entrance. As always, bring a passport or other ID. You can also buy a ticket online at dutch language website https://fc-volendam.voetbalticket-shop.nl
Thanks to: Remco van der Ende at FC Volendam, Kevin Morris and Freek van der Kerkhof.