Football

In 1988, there were exuberant celebrations on the Dutch side in Nieuwstraat when the Dutch national team won the European Cup on 25 June. (Photo: W. Sevenich)

Football is a passion that also causes suffering, and Nieuwstraat was no exception.
The years 1974, 1988, and 1990 in particular are etched into many people’s memories.
Where there’s a boundary, those on the other side are seen as ‘the others’.
When a person’s team wins or loses, they undergo a human reaction: they share the team’s win or the team’s desolation.
For many, the temptation to express this emotion at the line which divides the fans of the participating teams is overwhelming.
In the past, Nieuwstraat was an ideal place to express Dutch or German national fervour. After international matches in particular, football fans gathered at the border, provoked their counterparts on the other side, shouted at each other, and became aggressive.
If the ‘Third Half’ on Nieuwstraat wasn’t enough to cause heated feelings on its own, then, as has been proven, the national press with journalists on the spot lent a hand by inciting instigators with money if necessary. For example, reporters from the Bild newspaper on the German side and reporter Mart Smeets on the Dutch side were well-known ‘chequebook journalists’.
After all, their logic was that there were hundreds of German and Dutch police officers present to keep the situation under control, so they had to give them something to do.
The exemplary police cooperation between the Dutch and German police these days includes a very productive training camp on Nieuwstraat.

Peter Dinninghoff

Il s’agissait d’une plaisanterie réciproque, mais avec un clin d’œil pour l’entourage immédiat. Après la victoire des Allemands en 1974, ce sont les Néerlandais qui ont fait la fête dans la Nieuwstraat en 1988. En 1990, il y a eu d’importantes bagarres revanchardes. La presse avait justifié la possibilité d’une répétition. On craignait donc une répétition en 1992, mais grâce à la forte présence policière, la situation est restée calme et les habitants ont démontré qu’ils faisaient la fête ensemble et ne se laissaient pas provoquer par des tiers.

1988 – The Elftal are European champions (Photo W. Sevenich)

After the riots at the 1990 World Cup, the police were well prepared for the following European Championship in 1992. When Germany and the Netherlands (1:3) met in the preliminary round group 2 on 18 June 1992, the police showed presence along Neustraße:

(Photo: W. Sevenich)

(Photo: W. Sevenich)

But the residents also showed how they celebrated together:

(Photo: W. Sevenich)

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eyewitness report

Contemporary Witnesses – Corine Schurer

In 1974, the Netherlands lost to Germany in the final of the World Cup. The Netherlands were great favourites and therefore very disappointed. The German customs officers provoked the Dutch border crossers by forming 2-1 with their fingers and laughing.

The result was that in the years that followed, local residents rejoiced whenever the German eleven made a misstep.

Then came the revenge in 1988. In Hamburg, at the European Championships, Germany was beaten in the semi-finals (2:1). There was a spontaneous public celebration on the Dutch side. The German side was shrouded in darkness. Blinds down and lights off. A few days later, the Netherlands became European champions.

In 1990, Germany got another rematch at the World Cup in Italy. Germany and the Netherlands faced each other again in the round of 16. It was a Sunday and there was a fair in Kerkrade. It was known among the population that a lot of police were present in the city, but not visibly.

From the early afternoon, the Dutch studio did sports reports from the Neustraße. The well-known presenter Mart Smeets reported “that it felt really scary” to be standing there although nothing was happening.

These kinds of reports were broadcast for hours, so that at some point motor clubs started to move. This degenerated into brawls in the late evening. What until then had always been just taunts now became a battle. Kerkrade then marked Smeets as persona non grata. – He apologised years later.

(Germany won that game 2-1, by the way).

In 1995 Roda JC finishes as 2e in the Eredivisie (1e Bundesliga NL). Exactly that weekend was the opening of the redesigned Neustraße. The team was then also honoured on the podium on the Neustraße.