Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


September 2015

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Achilles ’29 (Holland)

Achilles ’29 are a professional football club from the football active town of Groesbeek in the Gelderland province in the east of The Netherlands, close to the city of Nijmegen. The club were formed on June 1st 1929 by thirteen boys around the age of twenty, as a team for Catholics.

Land was donated at the Heikant by Gerrit Derks in the north east of Groesbeek. By 1933 Achilles had won promotion to the top level of Nijmegen district football. The club were crowned as champions in 1935-36, which led to Ben Ostendorp writing the club anthem; "Samen togen wij ten strijd".- Together We Went to War.

Mr Ostendorp’s words were somewhat prophetic as three years later football was abandoned because of the outbreak of World War Two, with Groesbeek located on the front line close to the German border and the village at the time being evacuated.

As peace was restored the members of Achilles returned to find Sportpark De Heikant with craters and the buildings raised to the ground, but the club pulled together and were soon back in action. A second Nijmegen championship arrived in 1954, which led to ‘De Heikanters’ progressing to KNVB competitions.

By 1964 two further title wins led to the club reaching Tweede (second) Klasse football. After having a long spell known as RKSV Groesbeek to reflect the religious orientation of the club and the fact that the amateur association NVB had several Achilles teams registered. In 1969 the club successfully appealed to get their name back and added the ’29 suffix.

After forty years as club president Frans van Bernebeek stood down from his position in 1974 as the team toasted another league success and won promotion to Eerste Klasse. In 1978 the new Hoofdklasse was created at the top of the amateur game, with Achilles being placed in Zondag (Sunday) B.

Relegation was only just averted in 1989-90 under the leadership of Jan van Deinsen, with several other struggles over the following seasons. In 1994 Achilles were relegated for the first time in their history. Their spell in Eerste Divisie lasted six seasons before regaining their Hoofdklasse position in 2000. Unfortunately they were soon relegated once again, before regaining their status in 2002.

With the popular head coach Eric Meijers at the helm the club continued to progress, going on to win Hoofdklasse C ahead of big local rivals De Treffers in 2006. This act was repeated in 2008 when a packed De Heikant celebrated a win against De Treffers to clinch the title to add to a triumph in the Districtsbeker Oost (East District Cup).

2008 saw Achilles achieve publicity through their KNVB Cup exploits as they defeated RKC Waalwijk before going out at the quarter final stage 3-0 to a Louis van Gaal led AZ.

The 2009-10 season was played with places in the newly formed semi professional Topklasse for the following campaign at stake. Achilles finished fourth and made the step up to play their highest ever grade of Sunday football. The team also reached the last eight of the KNVB Cup following notable wins against Oss and then Heracles Almelo before RKC Waalwijk gained their revenge.

Achilles finished as runners up at the first attempt and lost out in the play offs for promotion. However, a second Districtsbeker Oost found its way to the clubs trophy cabinet. The 2011-12 campaign was one of great success as Achilles lifted the Super Cup for amateurs with a 2-1 victory over VV IJsselmeervogels. The team went on to win the Zontag Topklasse title before being crowned overall champions after defeating Saturday title winners SV Spakenburg 3-2 on aggregate. A third quarter final KNVB Cup appearance came following wins against Telstar and then MVV Maastrict before going down 3-0 at De Goffert in the local derby to NEC.

Jan van Deinsen returned to the club in June 2012 to replace successful head coach Meijers who departed to take up the reigns at Helmond Sport. This upheaval didn’t affect the team as they collected consecutive Super Cups, by defeating RKSV Leonidas and then winning the league. However, they were denied the overall title as vv Katwijk won the tie 3-0 over two legs.

Both Achilles and Katwijk had stated that they were not interested in taking up promotion to Eerste Divisie, but the KNVB had a problem as AGOVV and BV Veendam had withdrawn, leaving them with just sixteen teams. They solved this by relaxing the licensing necessities. Katwijk didn’t take up the offer but De Heikanters did as François Gesthuizen took over team affairs.

Achilles continued to build the club. The 2013-14 season saw them field eleven other senior teams, one women’s team and thirteen youth sides. Plans were announced to move from the current main pitch and to build around the artificial surface instead.

Achilles ’29 will play in the Eerste Divisie in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Monday 20th January 2014

I was in the small town of Groesbeek on a cold dull winter’s day in search of visiting some of the six football clubs that represented it. Five were amateur, but Achilles had joined the professional ranks. After calling in at Sportpark Noord I undertook a thirty minute walk before finding myself on Cranenburgsestraat and outside De Linde bar and restaurant. The ntrance to the ground was just past it.

To be honest there were no real signs of a second tier club being just behind the building. Beyond a decent sized car park I entered Sportpark Heikant in the corner of the main ground. The near goal was a few steps of open terracing backed by adverts and an electric scoreboard. The terracing continued round the far touchline and right down the side with a cover in the middle third of the pitch called The Egg Side, as patron Gerrit Derks kept his chicken coops on that side. Opposite were the club offices before a seated stand straddling the half way line. The changing rooms then continued around the far corner. Open terracing took up the space behind the far end.

It was a neat ground, but one that would struggle to reach Conference standards in the UK, although in fairness that reflects the silly sanctions imposed by our FA. It had been adapted with the relevant segregation barriers in position.

I left to go on another twenty minute walk to the home of rivals of De Treffers in the south of the town.

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