Sparta Rotterdam is the oldest professional football team in the Netherlands, established on April 1, 1888.
Sparta is one of three professional football clubs from Rotterdam, the others being Excelsior (est. 1902) and Feyenoord (est. 1908), the latter playing in the Eredivisie.
Sparta was first founded in 1887. This club was disbanded shortly afterwards. On April 1, 1888, several ex-members of the old Sparta founded a cricket club called Sparta. In July 1888, a football branch of the club was established. In 1890 Sparta played its first real football match, and in 1892 Sparta disbanded the cricket branch. Sparta was promoted to the highest league of Dutch football on April 23, 1893. In 1897, Sparta withdrew from the competition after continuous dubious arbitration of Sparta matches. However, the club continued to exist, and in 1899, the board of Sparta visited a match of Sunderland A.F.C. Impressed with the red-white jersey of the English club, the board decided that Sunderland's colours (red-white striped jersey, black shorts) would henceforth be the colours of Sparta.
In 1905, Sparta initiated and organised the first home match of the Dutch national team, against Belgium. The match, won 4–0 by the Netherlands, was a rematch of a game two weeks prior, when the Netherlands beat Belgium 4–1 in Antwerp.
The first match at Sparta's new stadium, Het Kasteel (The Castle), in the Spangen area of west Rotterdam, was played on October 14, 1916. The stadium was renovated in 1999 and is still Sparta's stadium.
Until the 2002/2003 season Sparta Rotterdam had always played at the highest level, but they were relegated from the top-level Eredivisie in 2002. Sparta returned to the Eredivisie for the 2005–06 season. They were releated again in 2010. On 20 August 2010 they equalled Ajax's and Heracles's Dutch league record win when they defeated Almere City FC 12-1, Johan Voskamp scoring an Eerste Divisie record 8 goals on his debut.
Sparta has won six national titles (1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915 and 1959) and three national cups (1958, 1962 and 1966).
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