De Brabantse Derby – NAC Breda v Willem II

Losing to NAC Breda might be no shame, you might say as they are, after all, a big named team.

Nooit opgeven altijd doorzetten, Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning, Combinatie Breda or NAC Breda to be precise.

North Brabant is the Dutch province with most professional football clubs in the Netherlands.

Each season many derbies are played in this part of Holland but few are bigger than the local derby football match between NAC Breda and Willen II Tilburg.

The cities of Breda and Tilburg are located just 20 kilometres apart.

This is a rivalry that originated in the 1920’s and matches between the two are referred to as the derby of Brabant.

An intense feeling of a cross-town rivalry, heightened by a feeling that it is city against city – one being perceived as a boring town and the other a cultural historic city.

It means a great deal of local pride is at stake.

Essentially the cities differ culturally with Tilburg being a newer industrial revolution type city. Against that Breda had long been an important cultural and military fortification since at least the late medieval period.

Breda has an important strategic location sitting between the large ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.

Tilburg is more just located in a no mans land between the cities of Breda and Eindhoven.

Given the esteem of the city and the traditions of the resident club (KNVB Cup winners in 1973 and National Championship winners in 1921) NAC Breda should be doing much better than they currently are in Dutch football.

The last five seasons have been spent in the second tier Eerste Divisie where they have never finished any higher than 5th.

What makes things that little bit harder for NAC fans is that this season Willem II are riding high at the top of the division. This is a league that has never been more competitive given it contains Groningen, ADO Den Haag and Roda JC.

If Breda has a reputation as a fortification then the local fans certainly lived up to the history of the city making the home ground a battle ground of noise when it came to match night. A small band of 300 Willem II fans were cramped up in the top right hand corner of the stadium bussed in from Tilburg some 90 minutes before the kick off.

Nine minutes in with the ticker-tape and yellow colours fading the visiting team took the lead dampening the Christmas spirit amongst the home supporters.

NAC were not performing anywhere near the level they needed to be at, with the team from Tilburg sitting in and looking highly dangerous on the counter.

On 33 minutes it was 2-0 to Willem II.

The visiting fans rejoiced in a team whom have been showing consistent form both home and away for a number of weeks.

Aside from a late attempt at crawling a way back into things the materials used for the pre-match display looked somewhat sad and forlorn as the final whistle went.

With Willem II half season champions and NAC struggling all be it respectfully located in the play off places, it might be an unhappy end of season at least for one half of the North Brabant rivalry.

On 12th January 1898, the original Willem II club was renamed Willem II after the Dutch king William II of the Netherlands. As Prince of Orange and commander of the Dutch army, he had his military headquarters in Tilburg and spent a lot of time in the city after becoming king.

If Willem II are to end this season’s Eerste Divisie as royalty of the division then not only will being Champions be appropriate for such a titled club, it will see the return of the crown jewels of Dutch football – Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord – to Tilburg’s Konig Willem II Stadium next season.