Go Ahead Eagles
Stadium – De Adelaarshorst, Deventer
Nickname; The Pride of the IJssel
Honours; Eredivisie-1916–17, 1921–22, 1929–30, 1932–33
Current Division; Eerste Divisie
Random Fact; Originally named Be Quick which is an even more bizarre name than Go Ahead they were forced to change their name as unbelievably some other Dutch mob had already taken Be Quick. The Dutch word and battlecry “voorwaarts” when translated means forward in English, but they didn’t get it quite right and came up with Go Ahead instead. The Eagles was added in the seventies after to go with the flag of the city and stadium name , which in English means the Eagles nest. This turning what was a strange name into something cool
When I was a nipper, I was a fully-fledged disciple of Eurogoals on Eurosport. I wouldn’t miss it. I would watch the repeats a lot of the time too. Watching football from foreign countries (out with European tournaments) back then was rare. If it wasn’t for Paul Gascoigne heading to Italy, then we would have had no live foreign fitba. Eurogoals provided highlights from throughout Europe on a weekly basis and it was fucking brilliant. The French teams with every inch of their shirts covered in sponsors, the flares, the managers smoking in the dugouts, the atmospheres in the grounds and the unpronounceable names. Stuff that was alien to my single figured in age self. Everything about it just seemed better. The football just seemed to have more flair. During it all there was always one team name that stuck out when Angus “Statto” Loughran mentioned it. I used to wait for them to come on just because I like the name as it was so different. A team name that sounded like a cartoon. That name Go Ahead Eagles.
As daft as it sounds, I went to Holland to Deventer for twenty-four hours back in January. Just to finally go and see the Eagles. What a great decision it turned out to be too. This because out of all my away day trips this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The best fans I have spoken to. The friendliest locals I have met. The greatest local pride I have witnessed. Easily one of my favourite towns I have ever visited. Quiet, peaceful and just a quality relaxed vibe to it. Absolutely my favourite fitba voyage I have had the pleasure of taking on. Funnily enough a lot of people didn’t even know which country Deventer was in let alone GAE were from there.
I left Aberdeen on the usual 6am KLM, the Euro groudhoppers choice. Come 11am I was in Overijssel. When I got off the train, I did the usual and had a get my bearings pint. An age-old tradition which involves the first pint of the day and a bit of google mapping (The airport Newcy Broon at five am doesn’t count as I’m in transit.) The cafe I chose was excellent. The two girls working were brilliant company and were very appreciative of me travelling from “Shcotland” to watch their team. So appreciative they broke their own booze selling law by serving me beer pre twelve o’clock. They were speaking to the locals and telling them about this random daft Scottish guy who was over to watch the Eagles and that led to Oldtimers out for a fine piece and a coffee with their wives approaching me wishing me all the best and “Go Eagles’!”. My third beer was on the house too. Doedel Cafe if you are ever in Deventer. The staff were absolutely lovely and you get a beer early if you are Scottish and heading to De Adelaarshorst.
From there I did the sightseeing bit that accompanies all my trips. This inclusive of walking the bridge over the river Ijssel. This bridge was used in “A Bridge Too Far” the 1977 epic with Gene Hackman, Sean Connory and Michael Caine. The film was set in Arnhem but the bridge in Deventer was used due to the fact that the bridge in Arnhem had been modified and wasn’t a true representation of the war time bridge. The Deventer bridge was still in original form. Once over it I continued walking for around twenty minutes which including accidentally trespassing onto a windmill powered sawmill (I think it was a saw mill) only to be stopped by a big dude who realised my error and wished well on my time in the town. After that I stopped for another beer just back over the bridge. Again, the staff were very appreciative of me heading over to watch their team. They were telling me if I my ticket was in B-Side I would love it. One of the girls was an avid hater of Ajax and pointed out that the people of Deventer support GAE and nobody else. From what I had gathered so far it seemed that way. After my latest refreshment I headed for the very gothic St Lebinus Church which dominates the skyline then onto St Nicholas Church which was across the Road from my digs
When I checked in to my hotel (Hotel Huis Vermeer) the reception girl was quizzing me on why I was in Deventer. Again, chuffed to find out I was there for GAE. The same goes for the munchery i had my tea in before the game (Restaurant de Keizer) where the chef came out to speak to me after the waitress told him I was over from Scotland. I think because Deventer is off the beaten track for tourism it catches people by surprise a bit that someone from as far away as Aberdeen would be there. As if Aberdeen is in Australia or something.
Once I graced De Adelaarhorsht I picked up my free ticket. Free as due to not having a Dutch postcode I could not order online this leading to the guy I spoke to on the phone being amazed I was coming in from Aberdeen to see their “great little club”. We had a chat and I explained about my football tourism. He was genuinely interested and said he will make sure the ticket was free. The lassie at the ticket office was asking about where I was from. When I said Scotland, she was another one to the surprised list. She told me I was in B side and would “love it”. The Ultras side.
In the supporters bar I was wearing a Dons tourie so people kept questioning me. (I was safe as I was wearing a GAE scarf. It was well needed as it was bloody baltic). I got chatting to a group and questions such as, “why are you here of all places?” “Scotland is far away?” “For a day, really?” were asked. But once the introductions were over that it was football chat. Speaking to dudes there and the whole local pride thing mentioned in the café was bang on. With one guy telling me “look on the streets and sport shops, there is no fucking Ajax, no fucking Feyenoord, no fucking PSV and no fucking Real Madrid. We like us and nobody else”. It was true I didn’t see a single bit of garb from any team bar GAE all day barring my own Dons tourie. If you were to walk around Aberdeen for a day you would see plenty of non-local shirts. In fact, you could walk round a wee place like Oldmeldrum and see an arsehole moneyball team shirt or a sevco shirt. But I’m going off on a tangent. I was also told “Zwolle are assholes” on numerous occasions. Obviously, this led to me neglecting to mention I was heading there in April for a game v Groningen. They seemed to be the main rivals. Vitesse were also mentioned too but lacking the venom of when Zwolle were mentioned. I still didn’t mention the fact that Vitesses GelreDome is high on my list of grounds to go to. The chat most of the time stemmed around how much they love their club and the model in which their club is built. They are completely debt free and one of three clubs in Holland that are in the black.
After a good few beers were hoovered, I headed in to B Side. Straight away I was enamoured with De Adelaarshorst, it had that old school cozy feel to it. Its only a 10k stadium so it feels small but that’s not a bad thing. Soon as you walk in it feels like you have been smacked in the face by Red and Yellow bomb but not in a South Stand at Pittodrie mismatched seats kind of way. In a good way as the seats, the paintwork, the flags, the fixings are all the colours of the team. Then you have the copious amounts of supporters decked out in the home shirt. After grabbing a beer, I pitched up in the B-Side but due to it being rammed I could only lean on the barrier at the front where I surprisingly got a better view than I thought I would. The songs were constant with a lot sang in English and the drummer banged away keeping the songs going. The atmosphere was hotting up. Then when GAE and Almere City appeared out of the tunnel I came as close to shitting my pants as I ever have at the fitba when a great bloody confetti cannon was let off covering the goals and box with streamers (held up the KO for five minutes until it was cleared). The game finally kicked off and I was treated to a decent showing of football from both teams. No hoofball on show with both teams neatly knocking the ball about. With GAE second in the league and Almere not to far away from the title hunt three points were important to both teams and it showed. With both teams forcing the issue creating numerous chances. But it was the home crowd who were silenced when Almere were awarded a dubious penalty at the B-Side end. This was the only time the drumming and singing ceased but the lull wasn’t for long as ten minutes later GAE equalised through van Moorsel who was the best player on the night. HT 1-1. Second half was much and such the same. Very even stuff, both teams with chances and a decent share of the possession but it was the Eagles who were to take the points when with 15 minutes to go when the big substitute Verheydt scored with his first touch. Made even better by the fact he had not been on the park more than ten seconds. Funnily enough he has since joined Almere City in the summer. That was that. Go Ahead Eagles 2-1 Almere City with the hosts staying in the title race. After a whole day of meeting the friendliest locals I have come across I was chuffed with the full-time result. I was wanting a home win all along.
From the stadium in a rare sensible act I headed straight to my hotel for a nightcap due to my 5.40am train to get me back to Schiphol on time. This involved walking past the Friday night life, but I resisted. On arrival at the hotel I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was to find out there was still another piece of Deventer hospitality to come when the barman gave me my first pint on the house as I was carrying a GAE scarf and programme. Truly an excellent city with excellent people and a great fitba team to boot. Shame I was not there for longer. I got off the train in Deventer at eleven in the morning on the Friday and by half past one on the Saturday afternoon I was watching Auchinleck Talbot knocking Ayr United out of the Scottish Cup in the Mither Tap while having a pre match pint before Aberdeen v Stenhousemuir. This was to end in a shite 1-1 draw. I should have stayed in Deventer