The Rise of Vitesse Arnhem: FC Hollywood upon Rhine
100 years ago, Vitesse Arnhem lost a playoff final against Sparta Rotterdam and as such finished runners up in the race for the 1912/13 Netherlands Football League Championship. A century on, the trophy cabinet at the GelreDome Stadium lies vacant and still awaits Vitesse’s maiden top flight championship trophy. With only a few games remaining in the Eredivisie this year, Vitesse sit in 3rd position, just 5 points astray of league leaders and Dutch giants Ajax. Surprising many by being able to maintain their title challenge until the business end of the season, this may not be the year that Vitesse Arnhem finally fill the gaping void in their history and secure their first Dutch Championship, but they are gaining deserved recognition.
Vitesse’s golden era came at the beginning of the 20th Century as the club ended as runners up of the Netherlands Football League Championship for three consecutive seasons between 1913 and 1915. Since then, the closest Vitesse have come to securing the top league title was a third place Eredivisie finish in 1998. The achievements of the 97/98 season provided a degree of progress for Vitesse given that the club had fallen into bankruptcy in the mid-80’s and spent the majority of the decade playing their football in Holland’s second tier. The resultant drama on and off the pitch during this era earned Vitesse the unenviable nickname of “FC Hollywood upon Rhine”.