Gelredome, Eredivisie, 16/2/20
Stichting Betaald Voetbal Vitesse
Founded – 1892
Nicknames – Vitas, Airborne Football Club
Honours – KNVB Cup 2016/17
Random Fact– The clubs record European win is 4-0 against Dundee United in the UEFA Cup in 1990. (They won the tie 5-0 on agg)
Saved the best for last this trip. To start with, what a ground the Gelredome is. A stunning piece of architecture. Well ahead of its time. Retractable roof which was closed due to the weather, this meaning I have now seen my second indoor game.(Ajax v NEC the other) The place doesnt look like a stadium from the outside, more like a shopping mall but once inside it is a fantastic venue to watch fitba in. I am not a huge fan of new builds but this is my favourite newish ground that I have been lucky to have viewed a game in. As I was heading round to the supporters bar I passed the area where the pitch goes when not in use. A very innovative idea. I bet Ajax wish they had done similar given all their pitch issues over the years. The pitch rolls out of the stadium so its gets sunshine and aired. It was opened in 1998 and despite this is still well ahead of anything I have seen. Top ground. Another good addition is the walk of fame outside the main entrance. Bands who have played gigs have stars outside the main entrance. Iron Maiden, Kiss, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine to name a few.
I had time for a quick pint in the supporters bar before the game. Nice good sized place covered in Vitesse memrobillia. The best being the maps of Europe showing where they have played.
In terms of the game. It epitomised why I love fitba. The home side came flying out the traps and were comfortably in a two goal lead through Linssen and Matavz. The later being a rocket. It was inexplicably checked by VAR. I still cant work out why. At this point it looked bleak for Heerenveen. I fully expected Vitesse to put much more past them, then next thing I knew Heerenveen grabbed one back through Kongolo which clearly got their tails up. Then against all expectations Ejuke equalised on half an hour flipping this game on its head sending the fifty or so Heerenveen fans wild. Ejuke was the best player in blue and white. Built like a toothpick but a decent skillful player. The travelling supporters should have been sent even wilder when they were denied the chance of an unlikely comeback when the referee waved away what looked to be a stonewaller just before the half. Where was VAR in this instance. End to end, four goals, numerous chances, this was definately shaping up to be game of the season for me. Considering the tripe I was served up on Saturday night in Sittard this was very welcome. The second half was played in a similar fashion and the home side regained their lead in the fifty-fifth minute when Bryan Linssen grabbed his brace. Then VAR reared its head and the home team were given a penalty. (need to see the highlights to see what the issue was). That is what its there for but the incident was around thirty seconds prior to being pulled back. There was eight minutes injury time because of it too. This was the first time I have seen it in person and if I am honest. I’m not a fan. The resulting penalty was cooly dispatched by Tannane killing the contest. Heerenveen didnt chuck it but to comeback from two goals down again was a big ask. A great game in a great stadium. If you get the chance, get along to Gelredome. Well worth a visit. My favourite Dutch ground. I have to say I love the Netherlands. Absolutely my favourite country to watch fitba in. 18 grounds over there and counting.