Some people may not now about the life of a football fan and what it takes to support your club week in, week out. I spoke with a football fan who travels every week to support his team.
Leo van der Kleij (23) is a Dutch man who lives in Groningen. He is a great fan of Feyenoord Rotterdam. Every week he makes the journey from Groningen to Rotterdam, to support his team. It almost takes him three hours to get there, but he enjoys it every week.
“Sometimes people ask me how I can still enjoy a journey of three hours to get there to watch a game of ninety minutes and then make the same journey back. But it is the passion and the joy in the stadium that keeps me going”.
Leo has a season ticket, which means he also goes to away games. That means an even longer journey, higher priced tickets and strong security. When I asked him what motivated him to go to away games, I really saw the passion in his eyes.
“When you go to an away game, it’s really you and your friends against an entire stadium. When you are there with 800 away supporters and you manage to ‘outsing’ (sing harder than the home supporters, red) the other side, that feeling is just wonderful”.
I asked Leo how his typical ‘matchday’ looked like. What time he got up and what time he got back home. The way he and his friends plan their days is quite interesting, because it’s not the football alone what makes them come back to Rotterdam every week.
“So basically I get up around 7.00 in the morning. Sometimes I don’t even sleep and go straight from the pub to the train station, does days are the tough ones haha. I board the train around 07.45. I usually drink my first beer in peace and silence. I get a lot of weird faces when I’m sitting there, alone and drinking a beer so early in the morning. My friends get on the train in Hoogeveen, which is a fourty minute ride for me and from there the fun really begins. We usually go with a group of eight till ten people. If everything goes smooth, so no train delays or anything, we arrive in Rotterdam around 11.30”.
But the games usually start at 14.30 right?
“Correct! When we arrive in Rotterdam, we always go to a little pub near the stadium, called M’n Oma. They sell pitchers of beer for ten euro and they have really nice snacks. Around 14.00 we make our way to the stadium. When the game is finished we have to go back to the train station but this is always chaos. 45000 people all want to leave the stadium at the same time and this never goes smooth. Sometimes it takes us a hour to get to the train station, which is normally a fifteen minute ride”.
During our conversation I didn’t get the feeling that Leo was bothered about his six hour traveling scheme every week. He almost made it feel like the journey itself was the best part of the day. Especially the journey back home, he told me.
“When we get in the train to get back home, there are always people who feel tired. A couple of beers always solve this problem. There are days when the trip back is actually more fun than the match itself. We’re always singing and laughing with each other. The beer is the main reason of this. When I get back home, I usually go straight to bed, because I have work the next day”.
Leo has followed Feyenoord across Europe. He attended games in England, Italy, Slovakia and even Ukraine. When I asked him about his best memory, he started glancing and spoke very passionate about a trip to England, for the Europe League.
“What a week, what a week. On Sunday we managed to beat PSV Eindhoven, at their stadium. On Tuesday we travelled to England, for the Europe League game against Manchester United. The game was on Thursday but all the Feyenoord fans were there earlier. The entire city of Manchester was invaded by Feyenoord fans. We lost the game 4-0, but we really didn’t care. The atmosphere was amazing.
Then we won against ADO Den Haag on the following Sunday. At the end of that season we were also crowned champions of The Netherlands. That was really my most memorable season!”