Limburg is the most southerly province of the Netherlands and encompasses the eastern part of the historical region of Limburg. Limburg is different from the rest of the Netherlands as it has a partly hilly terrain unlike the rest of the country which is known for being very flat.
Limburg is also a historically Catholic region in contrast to the rest of Holland which is traditionally known as a Protestant country.
The capital of the Dutch Limburg is Maastricht, a place famous for its medieval old town and the namesake EU treaty which was signed here and which served to create the European Union. South Limburg or Zuid-Limburg starts with Sittard in the north and covers the southern tip of the country downwards to Belgium.
The major Belgian town of Liege sits only 35 minutes from Maastricht.
As well as Maastricht the region has numerous other picturesque towns and small villages. Not far to the east sits Germany, most notably the historic city of Aachen once Aix-la-Chapelle, which sits just across the border and is a key ingredient to the wider tourist trail.
Maastricht is home to a local club MVV Maastricht who currently play in the Eerste Divisie (second tier) of Dutch football. The club’s golden era was the 1970’s when the club were known for the notorious Angel Side supporters; a period when Dutch football was plagued by hooligan problems. Although they have struggled for some years hope still remains that MVV may get back to the top division once again.
Another city ‘Kerkrade’ is home to Roda JC the most successful of the Limburg clubs. Roda’s club honours include seven European campaigns and six KNVB cup finals of which two were won. To the north of Maastricht sits Sittard a place home to Fortuna Sittard another club which has had many illustrious players on its books but which has experienced mixed fortunes throughout its history.
Even further north, just west of the German border, is Venlo where VVV Venlo play at the compact De Koel Stadion.
The Roda JC and MVV Maastricht rivalry is considered to be the number one rivalry in the Province of Limburg – by both sets of supporters. These days however they don’t meet much given the two are playing in different divisions. During the 1990’s the rivalry between Roda JC and Fortuna Sittard intensified as both clubs were relatively successful during this period.
Due to the distances between Kerkrade, Maastricht and Venlo the rivalries between MVV, Roda JC and VVV are considered to be a minor by the majority of local fans especially those of Roda JC. Nevertheless with many of the clubs playing in the second tier the local derbies are keenly fought especially with all of the clubs struggling of late. Roda JC played in the Eerste Divisie for one season recently following relegation and the games against MVV were keenly fought.
Many of the Limburg clubs are products of earlier mergers. Fortuna Sittard were founded in 1968 after a merger between the Sittardia and Fortuna’54 while the current Roda JC are a merger between between Rapid JC and Roda Sport in 1962.
Surprisingly despite being a cradle of Dutch football, many of Limburg’s clubs came to close to merger in 2009 as a pooling of resources under a ‘FC Limburg’ label. Political pressure and a statement of intent came from some of the Limburg clubs with the new club to be based at Roda JC’s Parkstad Limburg stadium.
A project ‘steering’ group called ‘Top Football in Limburg’ was put together along with a business plan.
After news broke a range of demonstrations took place against the merger both inside and outside stadiums. A group of Fortuna fans started The ‘Proud of Fortuna’ protest group.
Then it got nasty as several of the prominent business figures and local politicians behind the merger were threatened. Manny of the demonstrations did get violent particularly at Roda JC with parts of the ground smashed up. Eventually the project was abandoned but not before the playing license of Fortuna came under threat in spring 2009 until this, like the merger, was also shelved.