Monday, April 16, 2018
FC Emmen – Jong AZ (09-03-2018)
As part of our annual groundhop-weekend, my brother and I start out in the Northeast of The Netherlands, at the one (more or less) traditional professional football country I still had to see in my native country: FC Emmen. It only joined the professional league in 1985, as simply Emmen, and changed names in 2005, after splitting its amateur and professional branches.
We park just outside the stadium with the beautiful name De Oude Meerdijk. It was built in 1977 and renovated as a multi-function stadium in 2001. It can hold 8.600 people, but this Friday night it was officially half full (4.231), although it looked more like one-third full. We buy a ticket for the seated stand behind the goal for €10 and enter the stadium just before kick-off.
FC Emmen plays in the Eerste Divisie (Second Division), which is now called Jupiler League, after the sponsor. The opponent this night is Jong AZ, the youth team of AZ, which plays in the Eredivisie (First Division). Youth teams are the scourge of contemporary football, dominating second and third divisions in many countries, but having no supporters.
We are seated close to the loudest home fans, a group of a few hundred FC Emmen fans with banners. While the stadium looks new, it is old style, which means we are close to the pitch. This gives it a good atmosphere, even with a relatively empty stadium and no away fans. The excellent snacks also help.
In the 5th minute every stands and applauds for a minute. It seems to be a tribute to someone close to the club who recently died. That is also the most exciting to happen in the first minutes. In the 8th minute FC Emmen has a long attack, which leads to a corner, and a rebound that is finally headed from 2 meters… over the goal! In the 16th minute a shot from the edge of the box goes well over. By that time the home fans have already stopped singing.
In the 19th minute FC Emmen has an accidental attack, which leads to a midfielder shoot from 11 meters at the crossbar, and the ball bounces off the goal line. The play exists of slow attacks, little pressure, and few chances or fouls. In the 42nd minute FC Emmen has a free kick, which is headed wide from 5 meters. Half-time score: 0-0.
The second half starts much more exciting, with FC Emmen having two shots at goal in the first five minutes. After that the hosts have a (semi-)chance roughly every five minutes, which leads to what I think is the first goalie save of the game in the 70th minute!
After another few good shots by FC Emmen do not go in and it seems to be a 0-0 night. But then, in the 89th minute, Jong AZ gets a rare chance, and a shot from 12 meter is deflected by a defender and goes in: 0-1!
The stadium is in shock, and so is the home team, which makes a silly foul in the extra time, which leads to a penalty. The penalty is not very well taken, but goes in nonetheless: 0-2. This is also the surprising, and undeserved, final score.
Despite the really poor game, and the underwhelming atmosphere on the stands, FC Emmen is a fun groundhop, a bit out of the way (by Dutch standards), combining a modern stadium with an old-style feel.