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  • Writer's pictureOscar Schulze Casademunt

FC Groningen surge into third place after last-minute winner against Helmond Sport

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

FC Groningen continue their impressive start and climb into a playoff place after nicking a

remarkable victory against Helmond Sport.


A group of football players celebrating on a football pitch
FC Groningen players celebrate after beating Helmond Sport © Damian Vos

FC Groningen continue their impressive start and climb into a playoff place after nicking a remarkable victory against Helmond Sport.


With the three points, the team, known locally as the Pride of the North, have leapfrogged fellow relegated side SC Cambuur into third place, a month before the two sides clash in Friesland.


FC Groningen’s second consecutive victory will give fans confidence after a stuttering start to the season, when they picked up just four points in the first three games. The three points will no doubt ease the sombre feeling around the club, following their disastrous relegation from the Eredivisie last season.


Maarten Siepel, 23, presenter of FC Groningen Kon Veel Minder Podcast, explains that supporters have big hopes for this season, which translates into high expectations. “Groningen should be expected title favourites,” he says, due in part to “the status of the club and the massive investments in the summer.”


This is in relation to FC Groningen's heavy outlay prior to the new season, with the club spending the second most on transfers in the league. They are second only to Jong Ajax, who are of course subsidised by the Amsterdam top flight club of the same name.


With this investment, however, comes expectation, not least from the fans. “Every loss is a potential crisis,” says Maarten, “with fans expecting results after the worst season in the club’s 52 years history.”


Last Friday’s away trip to Helmond teetered on the edge of such a crisis, with FC Groningen finding themselves all level against an opponent languishing in 15th place, in a match many had tipped them to win.


The award of a penalty against the Pride of the North was followed quickly by a red card, and then an emphatic Helmond equaliser from the spot. “Everyone was feeling depressed,” says Damian Vos, 20, social media reporter for the club, “we all thought we weren’t going to win and maybe even lose, because we had 10 players left.”


With almost the last kick of the game, however, FC Groningen defender Liam van Gelderen squeezed the ball past the goalkeeper’s near post to secure the win.


The last gasp winner made the sold-out away end erupt with elation, although Damian says he had to keep his excitement in check. “My job is to capture the goals behind the goal where it happened,” he explains, “I was sprinting and filming Liam’s celebration, while staying quiet, but in my head I was exploding from joy.”


A football stadium in Helmond
FC Groningen sold out the away end at the GS Staalwerken Stadion © Damian Vos

The nature of the win made the six-hour round trip to Helmond worth it, says Damian, even with challenging weather conditions. “It was raining all game, but with these kind of endings we don’t mind getting soaked,” he grins.


FC Groningen’s victory over Helmond Sport marks their third win in four matches and brings them to within one point of second-placed VVV-Venlo.


It is a position they will feel confident of defending, with their next fixture taking place at the Euroborg stadium against the visiting FC Den Bosch, who are currently hovering just above the relegation zone.


Damian cautions against complacency however. “We know the strengths of our team,” he says, “but in football, and especially in this league, everything can happen, so we shouldn’t underestimate any teams.”

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