European Football

GOTP Country Special: The Netherlands

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HERE AT GOTP Towers, we are big fans of the Dutch – Total Football, Cruyff, Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV. No surprise that we’ve written quite a few pieces on our friends from across the Channel.

February 2015: Feyenoord – ‘cause Rotterdam is anywhere

In the 1960s, a geography field trip (if you lived in Thurrock) was a trip to Tilbury docks to look at one of the biggest container ports in Europe. At the time, Tilbury was in competition with Rotterdam, which gave the Essex town a slightly continental element to it. But while Rotterdam was a city with a port, Tilbury was most definitely a dock with a town, in the loosest sense of the world.

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February 2015: Great Reputations: Feyenoord 1970 – the overlooked Dutch masters

Despite Dutch football’s decline over the past couple of decades, the memory of Total Football still sends a tingle of excitement down the spines of football historians. But while everyone remembers Ajax and Cruyff, Rinus Michels and the European hat-trick, Feyenoord’s 1970 European Cup triumph has been somewhat forgotten by many.

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February 2015: PSV Eindhoven – still part of the family

Philips no longer owns PSV. The two parties were amicably “divorced” in the early part of the 21st century, although PSV was able to purchase their ground for a token sum as a result. “We are still part of the family and Philips remains our chief sponsor,” said one of the PSV representatives on a guided tour of the ground ahead of the club’s game with FC Utrecht.

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June 2014: Cruyff and me

When you’re 12 or 13 years old, you have heroes. You have infatuations. You want to emulate and imitate. In 1972, that might have meant sticking platform shoes on or glitter in your hair. Or pretending to be Dutch. To most people, Holland was a flat country with windmills and people wearing clogs. But in the early 70s, perceptions of the land of Edam cheese changed. A gangly, elegant and self-assured man called Hendrik Johannes Cruyff walked into the lives of football fans, not just in Holland, but across Europe. Until 1971, when his team, Ajax, won the European Cup at Wembley, Johann Cruyff was a name in World Soccer or Leslie Vernon’s column in Goal.

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March 2014: Singing De Ajax-Marsch

Cruyff, Neeskens, Rep, Krol, Haan, Keizer…names that roll off the tongue. Names that made Ajax the best team in Europe, arguably the world, in the early 1970s. Ajax wasn’t just a household cleaning product, or an Airfix model of a warship. It was the name of one of the most inventive and exciting teams ever to grace a football pitch. This team was definitely of its time and anyone who saw them in action was captivated by them. It was rock and roll football. “Total Football”.

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March 2014: Why is Amsterdam a one-club city?

The Dutch version of Spain’s “clasico”, “De Klassieker”  is Ajax v Feyenoord . It’s a derby that has attracted hooliganism, fierce rivalry and bitter words down the years. The two clubs were the standard bearers of “Total Football” in the 70s, providing the bulk of the Dutch national team at the time. The two cities are only 35 miles apart, which under Easy Jet or Ryanair rules, is probably classified as a local derby.

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