Sometimes we go on a stadium journey and recently one of our journeys brought us to the cosy Dutch Limburg province, Sittard to be exact. We witnessed a game of Fortuna Sittard in their Fortuna Sittard Stadion, from the outside a modern bowl, but from the inside surprisingly a lot of soul and passion.
The current team started in 1968, but in fact goes way back. It was in 1968 when RKSV Sittardia and Fortuna '54 decided to merge due to financial problems. RKSV (Rooms-Katholieke Sportvereniging) Sittardia on itself already was a merger between RKVV Sittardse Boys and vv Sittard. RKVV Sittardse Boys was founded in 1902 (making them a pretty old team) as Spartaan and changed their name in 1926. vv Sittard was created in 1902 as well as SVC, changed their name in 1908 into Quick and later on in 1916 into VVS before taking their final name in 1917. The good results only started when the two teams merged in 1950. Between 1954 and 1968 the team played professional football going up and down between first and second division. In 1968 they were playing in first division.
Fortuna '54 on the other hand kind of had the same history. In 1954 they became a professional team and continuously played in first division, even winning two Dutch cups. In 1968 the two merged to become Fortuna-Sittardia Combinatie, which was later altered into simply Fortuna Sittard. The new team started in first division, but in their first year they didn't manage to stay and had to relegate to second division. Up until 1982 second division was their home, but that year they finally made it back to first division. A great era started.
The following 11 years the team would stay in first division and they would very often end their season in the first half of the table. In the Dutch Cup and even in Europe they managed to achieve very good results. In 1993 the tide changed and a relegation followed. Only two years later FSC returned to first division (thanks to players like Mark van Bommel and Fernando Ricksen) and again good results followed. Until 2002 that is, when they relegated back to second division.
The next 16 years would be years filled with disappointments and mainly working to resolve all of the financial problems. More than once they came close to bankruptcy, but every time they managed to find a solution and stay alive. In 2009/2010 the end was that close that there almost was an agreement with neighbouring Roda JC Kerkrade to merge to Sporting Limburg. The deal fell through and all fans (of both teams) were very relieved. As of 2013, after most of the stress and debts were worked away, the results started to come back as well.
Unfortunately in 2016 they, yet again, faced financial problems and a Turkish investor saved the team. With Sunday Oliseh as a coach their confidence returned and in 2018 they finally made it back to the big leagues. Sadly enough Oliseh had to go due to internal conflicts, but it seems Fortuna Sittard is back at the top of their game. Even now, in their first season in first division again, they are performing pretty well.
Since 1964 De Baandert (demolished in the meantime) was their home ground (the first years there was a ground sharing agreement with the Mauritsstadion (demolished as well now)), but in 1999 they moved into the newly built Fortuna Sittard Stadion. You can see at one side it has all of the modern facilities a first division team should have, but on the other side it shows the stadium was built in the 90s. There is just enough soul and passion to accommodate the wonderful atmosphere the fans create.