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GROUND // Sportpark Kaalheide - Roda JC Kerkrade (training ground, Netherlands)

Occasionally we come across stadiums we don't see that often in stories and pictures of other groundhoppers. The southern part of The Netherlands for instance has a lot of beauty rarely to be visited. In Kerkrade, the former stadium of Roda JC Kerkrade is still standing. While with other teams, this would have been demolished or completely abandoned, here Roda JC is classy enough to still use it as their training facilities.

Roda JC used to play here until the year 2000 and in their peak years the stadium could hold up until 25.000 people. They started building the stadium in 1946 and when it was finalized and opened in 1952 it was first used by Juliana. The name is derived from what the ground used to be before it was used for football, a waste area. Very remarkabely it was only in the 70s when the floodlights were first installed. They were inaugurated with a game against Liverpool. We could be proud to say that the last person to have scored a goal for Roda JC at Kaalheide was the Belgian player Peter Van Houdt. :-)

Roda JC Kerkrade was founded in 1962, but actually first saw the daylight in 1910 already. SV Juliana was the very first football team in Kerkrade. Along the next years, others teams were founded as well. In 1914 BVV Sparta was founded, changing their name into SV Bleijerheide in 1923. Three years later SV Kerkrade was the third team. Around WWII the football structure changed in The Netherlands and the result of that was the fact all three the teams suddenly played in the highest Dutch levels. In 1954 another team was created, being Rapid '54. But less than a year later Rapid '54 merged with Juliana to become Rapid JC. At the same time The other two teams, SV Kerkrade and Bleijerheide merged to become Roda Sport. The 50s would form the last decade with all of the teams in high league positions. In 1962 these teams also merged and became the currently known Sportvereniging Roda Juliana Combinatie Kerkrade, better known as Roda JC.

During the next couple of decades Roda JC would go from second division football to European successes and back, and afterwards the other way around again. Roda JC has seen pretty much everything, but always managed to stay somewhat in the higher divisions. In 2009 they even survived existence by getting out of another merger with MVV Maastricht and Fortuna Sittard.

Roda JC currently plays in the Parkstad Limburg Stadion, but most die hard fans will long for the good old days at Kaalheide. We are all so glad this stadium is still standing, although one of the stands and all of the floodlights have been torn down.


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