Last Saturday the derby of the East was scheduled in Lichtenvoorde. Home team Longa’30 took on neighbor RKZVC. The stakes weren’t just the derby. Both teams were in 1st and 2nd place before the game. The championship in the first division and promotion to the main division was therefore within reach. That would be a great stunt, especially for the tiny RKZVC. It turned out to be a hot evening at Sportpark De Treffer.

The battle for East Gelre

For most of the history of both clubs, RKZVC has been in the shadow of Longa’30. Longa’30 was founded in 1930, RKZVC followed only 15 years later in 1945. While Longa’30 with Lichtenvoorde can count on approximately 12,000 inhabitants, RKZVC has to make do with Zieuwent and only 2,000 inhabitants. This logically ensures that Longa’30 has more members. About 1100 people can call themselves members of Longa’30. The number of 330 members of RKZVC is meager in comparison. With all this information it seems only logical that Longa’30 can be called the club of East Gelre for fifty years.

Very often the derby of East Gelre was therefore not played in competition. For most of its history, Longa’30 was active in the third division, with a few outliers to the second division. RKZVC had to make do with long periods in the fourth division, with a few outliers to the third division. However, since about 10 years everything has changed in East Gelre. Both teams have started to advance during that period.

The rise

For Longa’30, this advance started in 2009. After the championship of the third division, promotion to the first division followed immediately. Although the club had not seen the first division since 1994, the title was immediately taken. With this, Longa’30 was allowed to call itself the first team from the Achterhoek in the main division. However, after three great seasons, the fairytale of the big league was over and Longa has been playing in the first division ever since.

For RKZVC, the advance started with a low point in club history. In 2008, the club was relegated to the fifth division. As long as the people in Zieuwent could remember, the club hadn’t played that low anymore. Within one season, the club was fortunately back in the fourth division. After promotion, relegation and promotion again, RKZVC played in the third division in 2014. From here she was allowed to watch as competitor Longa’30 managed to reach the Hoofdklasse. In 2015, however, a true football fairytale began for the inhabitants of tiny Zieuwent.

A second place in 2015 was followed by the championship of the third division. Although the club was never active in the second division, the championship was immediately won. A new highlight in the history of RKZVC had arrived with the promotion to the First Division. In addition, this promotion meant that the derby against Longa’30 would finally be played again.

A hot evening

Prior to the competition, Longa’30 was expected to play for promotion and RKZVC would have to fight against relegation. However, RKZVC managed to exceed all expectations. During the first derby of this season, Longa’30 was crushed 5-0 in Zieuwent. With four games to go, it is clear that both teams have exceeded expectations. RKZVC can count on a first place in the standings, followed by the orange and white team from Lichtenvoorde on one point. So the derby would not be played for honor alone. Saturday’s winner would come very close to promotion to the big league.

Since the match was so important, both groups of supporters had turned out great. The away supporters came from Zieuwent with about 75 tractors to Lichtenvoorde. Sports park De Treffer was packed with 4,000 football supporters from the entire region. Before the match, both the away and home fans showed themselves with a big pyro. These atmospheric actions even worked out so well that the match started a little later as the field was covered with a thick cloud of smoke.

The atmosphere and supporters were so great. However, the same cannot be said about football. With a good derby there is always bad football and that was certainly the case today. One goal from RKZVC in the second half was enough to get the full loot. With this victory, the football fairy tale of RKZVC is continued even further. A third championship in a row and promotion to the big league is close by for the small club from the tiny village of Zieuwent. Something even the most optimistic supporters could not have dreamed of four years ago.

Lars Smit
Leven lang verliefd op NEC. Helemaal gek van supporterscultuur, vergane glorie en amateurvoetbal.

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