After sensational victory against Ajax

Hercules 'students' aim for a new feat against Cambuur

Herculesteam na de wedstrijd
Hercules players celebrating their win. Photos: Ingrid de Coo

Casper van Rietbergen, a Master's student in Urban Geography at UU, was jogging through the city centre the other day wearing a T-shirt he got from Ajax player Martha. Suddenly, he was met with a burst of insults from a passerby. How dare he run through the city wearing that shirt, didn't he know that those Amsterdam losers had been humiliated in Utrecht? "That was a really funny moment."

Casper plays for Hercules, the football team responsible for Ajax's downfall. He was on the reserve bench, from which he saw his team secure the victory in the final minutes after initially giving away a 2-0 lead.

Golden Boy
"Disbelief and euphoria." That's how he describes what he felt that evening. "I knew we were good players, but I didn't expect us to win against Ajax. When you overcome such a setback, everyone goes crazy."

UU Law student Mats Heus was sitting next to him on the bench, as a reserve goalkeeper. Psychology student Valentijn Beck ("the guy with the headband who had Brian Brobbey in his pocket") and Law student Tim Pieters were on the field.

Golden boy Pieters stole the show with two goals. After the match, he told TV reporters that he had finished writing a paper that same morning. Dutch newspapers extensively covered the fact that his roommates won a lot of money for betting on him. The next day, several camera crews were in front of the USC home where the student lives.

Cup Sensation
"Tim was our hero, as you can expect, and we were happy to give him all the attention. But we are not the drinking student team that some media outlets make us out to be. The team is very diverse in terms of age and what the players do in life. Most have also played for professional clubs."

At the same time, Casper, who has been playing for Hercules since his early childhood, understands why the biggest cup sensation in Dutch history captures the imagination. And sometimes his teammates contribute to that themselves. "Mats Grotenbreg, who scored the winning goal, recently told ESPN that he didn't have time to eat before the game and quickly grabbed something at McDonald's," he recollects, laughing.

Against Cambuur
For Casper, the celebrations after the victory were the signal to continue having fun for a little longer. "I extended that euphoric feeling until after New Year's. I didn't think about studying or about football for two weeks. I basically just partied."

But now all eyes are on the next round of the cup. On January 25, Hercules will try to secure a spot in the quarterfinals against Cambuur, from Leeuwarden. The Utrecht-based team believes they are ready after a short training camp in Spain.

"But it's not like we are the favourites now. Cambuur plays two divisions higher and will not underestimate us. Winning would be another big feat."

Casper van Rietbergen

Masterstudent Urban Geography Casper van Rietbergen na de wedstrijd tegen Ajax. (Foto: Ingrid de Coo)

Tags: voetbal