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Official Review by Sander Kolsloot, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Stadion De Vijverberg has been the home of De Graafschap football club for ages. It has been undergoing several upgrades (putting on a roof for all stands, amongst other improvements), the latest being finished in 2000. It was built in 1954 as a home for De Graafschap, for their play in the Dutch Professional Football league. It can host up to 12,600 spectators.
Its location is nice in the green, countryside of the Netherlands, a region called ‘De Achterhoek,’ formerly and for some parts still a farmers region. Stadion De Vijverberg lies right on the outskirts of the city, very close to the woods.
The nickname of the football club is therefore: Superboeren (super farmers). At this moment (2012) they play in the second division of professional football, called the Jupiler League.
The club and its fans are renowned for their rather passionate fandom, so I was expecting something but came away a bit disappointed in that regard.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage section is typical for a Dutch football stadium. Beers, some wine, sodas and all for reasonable prices (about 2.50 euros).
The food concessions are located outside, where you can buy some snacks and fries.
The atmosphere in the stadium is rather average. When you walk up to the stadium, the setting is really nice. The location of the stadium adds to that, because it's so close to the woods. Everybody is walking together and that gives a nice and friendly feel to it.
I was sitting in the business section, where they had a large business club with (after the match) some kind of disco and a good bar. The feel was really laid back and relaxed. Once you walk into the stands, it's a really British Style stadium, with stands really close to the field, and no fences which gives it a cozy and small sensation.
When the players get to the field, the crowd gets somewhat lively, and the atmosphere is really good then. Compared to stadiums which host more fanatic fan bases, the atmosphere is rather average.
The neighborhood is really nice. The stadium is located in the rural part of the Netherlands, close to the center of Doetinchem. It takes a short ride from the city centre to get to the stadium, so there's plenty of time to grab a beer in one of the local bars. I recommend the Hattrick. You can also easily grab a quick meal in the city centre, in one of the cafes or restaurants. I would recommend Zusenzo, which has some nice bites.
De Graafschap fans can get really lively, but during the match I was there, they were rather timid and not as loud and present as what I am used to from many Dutch fans. Still, they make quite a bit of noise, and they have a small "ultras" section, which sings and drumrolls for the whole 90 minutes.
I think when they play their local rivals, the atmosphere will light up a little more.
Although Doetinchem is not very centrally located in The Netherlands, it has several train stations and to get to the stadium is fairly easy. It requires a short walk from the nearest station.
The return on investment is rather average. The atmosphere is ok, and the price is somewhat equal to that. Don't expect electricity in the stadium, as the fans here are not used to seeing perfect football. Only if neighboring clubs such as Vitesse, NEC or even Twente visit, the stadium will light up a little more, making for a better return on your investment.
Make a stop in nearby Varsseveld to check out the GUUSeum, named after Varsseveld's most famous native, Guus Hiddink, former coach of the Dutch, Korean, Russian, Australian and Turkish National Team and a successful club coach in Europe.
You can also get a tour through the stadium for about 7 euro.
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Doetinchem, The Netherlands 7001 BW
011 31 314 842 680
Doetinchem, The Netherlands 7001 CA
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