The season’s around Europe are all coming to an end and Lee Garrity has his finger on the pulse of the lower leagues. In a series of posts letting us know who’s going up and who’s going down from Europe’s lower leagues next top is the Netherlands.
RKC Waalwijk made an instant return to the Dutch Eredivisie by pipping FC Zwolle to the Jupiler League title in dramatic circumstances. The club from the North Brabant region of the Netherlands pounced at the death to overtake Zwolle who had led the table all season but a poor finish to the season meant only a play off place for the Blauvingers.
RKC will look to improve on last season when they were relegated from the top flight with just 5 wins and a whopping 29 defeats and with the vultures already circling around the crop of talented players that have been assembled at the Mandemakers Stadion, a difficult season will certainly lie ahead if the squad is broken up.
Zwolle will look towards a woeful run of 1 win in 5 games at the end of the season which began with a 3-0 home defeat to eventual Champions RKC as the reason they were forced to contest the play offs but the lead they had secured by the winter break should have been insurmountable. Sjoerd Ars (28) and strike partner Danny Schreurs (16) racked up an impressive 44 goals between them and will no doubt have alerted others as to their abilities in front of goal.
Helmond Sport surprised many this season to claim 3rd spot a fact not gone unnoticed by Willem II who have taken Coach Jurgen Streppel on a 4 year deal. A financial crisis and a 4 point deduction could stop BV Veendam claiming 4th spot following an impressive post winter break run which saw them defeated just 3 times in the 2nd half of the season. Also in the complicated play off mix were Volendam, Den Bosch, MVV, Go Ahead Eagles and Cambuur, they were joined by the teams finishing 2nd & 3rd bottom of the Eredivisie (Excelsior Rotterdam & VVV Venlo).
In the 1st round of playoff games Volendam defeated MVV & Den Bosch saw off Go Ahead Eagles whilst in the 2nd round Zwolle put Cambuur out on penalties and Helmond Sport beat Veendam. The 2 Eredivisie clubs joined at this point, VVV Venlo knocked out Volendam 4-1 on aggregate and Excelsior were victors over Den Bosch 6-4 on aggregate.
In the final round of fixtures VVV Venlo secured their top flight status by beating Zwolle 4-3 over 2 legs, a 2-1 win at Zwolle was followed up with a late goal by Ahmed Musa to earn 2-2 draw at their De Koel Stadium. The other final was slightly less competitive as Helmond Sport lost the first leg at home to Excelsior by 5 goals to 1 and despite taking a 2 goal lead in the 2nd leg Sport succumbed by 4 goals to 2 and 9-3 on aggregate so it remained just 1 up and 1 down with Willem II finishing rock bottom of the Eredivisie.
Fortuna Sittard trailed at the bottom of the table for most of the season but an upturn in form in the last 8 weeks saw them leapfrog Almere City & RBC Roosendaal to finish 16th. Almere, in their 1st season under their new name (formerly FC Omniworld) ended the season in bottom place with 25 points 1 behind Sittard & RBC although along with a clutch of other clubs City were deducted points for financial reasons and that was their downfall as they would have finished 3rd bottom on a level playing field.
RBC would also have finished above Fortuna had they not had a points deduction. It looked at first like RBC would have to declare bankrupcy, the rumours are now they could be saved. More will be known this Tuesday. If Roosendaal are declared bankrupt and like FC Haarlem before them cease to exist it will be sad news for all concerned and although I’m sure they will take little delight from it, Almere City will then not be relegated to the newly formed Topklasse.
On a brighter note FC Oss (formerly Top Oss) have been promoted back into the Jupiler League despite losing the play off between themselves as winners of the Sunday Topklasse and the winner of the Saturday Topklasse Ijsselmeervogels by an aggregate score of 4-0. The winners didn’t apply for promotion at the start of the season and as FC Oss did they claim the place in the 2nd tier.
Dordrecht claimed the scalp of NEC Nijmegen in the Dutch Cup whilst FC Zwolle knocked out Willem II although that was not much of a shock at the time as Zwolle were runaway leaders and Tilburg side were marooned at the bottom of the Eredivisie, on the other side of the coin renowned Dutch non league side Sparkenburg knocked out now defunct RBC Roosendaal on penalties as cup shocks were kept to minimum.
John Voskamp ended the season as top scorer, the striker hit 29 league goals for Sparta Rotterdam the striker who hit 22 for Helmond Sport the previous season became an instant hit at the relegated Rotterdam side hitting an incredible 8 goals on his debut in a 12-2 win over Almere City, Voskamp also hit 2 hat tricks in his 30 games for the club. 2nd top scorer was Sjoerd Ars of Zwolle with 28 whilst Melvin Platje hit 26 with 5 of those coming in 4 playoff games. Platje’s exploits in front of goal have earned him a move to Eredivisie side NEC Nijmegen whilst RKC Waalwijk’s 18 goal man Derk Boerrigter has signed for giants Ajax, Boerrigter was with the Amsterdam club as a youth player and after an unsuccessful bid in the January transfer window Ajax finally re-signed their man,