What’s in a name – The Netherlands

Have you ever wondered where a football club’s name comes from? Quite often they are straightforward in that they are taken from the location in which the team plays but some club’s name have much more interesting origins. This article, which will hopefully be one of a continuing series, looks at where the names of all professional Dutch clubs come from. It will examine how the clubs were formed and how they developed since their formation with regards to mergers and name changes.




ADO Den Haag

In the early part of the 20th century a group of boys in Den Haag played football every day after school at the foot of the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Jacobuskerk, the Haagsche Toren. In February 1905 they met at the “Het Hof van Berlijn” café which belonged to one of the boy’s father to form their own football team. They choose the name “Alles Door Oefening” (“Everything Through Practice”), shortened to ADO. The club went through many financial difficulties in its early years but by 1912 had recovered sufficiently that they became members of the NVB (the Dutch Football Association).

In 1971 the local council decided that ADO should merge with their Eredivisie rivals Holland Sport club, from neighbouring Scheveningen, to form a new club that could be capable of achieving European football. This new club was given the name FC Den Haag and would play their home games at ADO’s ground, Zuiderpark. The amateur section of the club continued under the ADO name up until 1996 when they again merged with FC Den Haag to form the new club ADO Den Haag.


AFC Ajax

Although the official formation date of AFC Ajax is recorded as 18th March 1900 the name of the club actually pre-dates that by seven years. In 1893 three students from the HBS school in Amsterdam – Floris Stempel, Han Dade and Carl Bruno Reeser – created a football club they first named Union but soon afterwards they changed its name to “Foothball Club Ajax”. The misspelt name was a result of an error during the filling in of the registration form. The name Ajax was chosen as the three school friends were very interested in Greek mythology as a result of the history lessons and were admirers of the great Trojan War hero Ajax in particular.

Initially the team played only friendly matches against their friends in Willemspark in the neighbouring town of Nieuwer-Amstel which was incorporated into the city of Amsterdam in 1896. Soon afterwards houses were built on the site of the team’s pitch leaving them without anywhere to play and so the three friends decided to form a new club instead and circulated a letter around their friends signalling their intentions.

On 18th March 1900 at the Café East Indies on Kalverstraat the new club AFC (Amsterdamsche Football Club) Ajax was registered, this time spelt correctly. Floris Stempel became the club’s first president with Dade as Vice-President and Reeser as Secretary.


AZ Alkmaar

The current AZ club was created on 10th May 1967 as a result of the merger between Alkmaar ’54 and FC Zaanstreek. FC Zaanstreek were from the village of Koog aan de Zaan, between Alkmaar and Amsterdam, and were formed in 1964 when they took over the license of local club KFC (Kooger Football Club). They took their name from the Zaanstreek region in which Koog aan de Zaan is located, Zaan being the river which flows through the region and “streek” being the Dutch word for “region”. Alkmaar ’54, as its name suggests, were founded in 1954 when professional football was introduced to the Netherlands for the first time and were initially part of the NBvB (the Dutch Professional Football Association), a rival to the KNVB (the Royal Dutch Football Association). Alkmaar ’54 actually took part in the first ever professional football match to be played in the Netherlands when they drew 2-2 with BVC Amsterdam in July 1954. The NBvB and the KNVB merged in November of that year.

In 1964 two brothers from the town of Zaandam, Cees and Klaas Molenaar who were local businessmen as well as being former KFC players wanted to create a powerful team within the Zaanstreek region as initially tried to merge KFC with the Zaandam club ZFC. However, this was unsuccessful and it wasn’t until three years later that they were able to form a successful merger between the former KFC team, now FC Zaanstreek, and Alkmaar ’54 to form the new club AZ (Alkmaar Zaanstreek) ’67.

Cees Molenaar died in 1979 but Kees remained as club director until 1985. The following year the club dropped the ’67 suffix and became simply AZ in order to denote their new era without the Molenaar brothers.


SC Cambuur

The Frisian city of Leeuwarden had had a professional football team, VV Leeuwarden between 1954 and 1964 before they turned amateur due to financial problems. To replace VV a new professional club SC (Sportclub) Cambuur was formed. The club’s name was taken from the name of the district of Leeuwarden in which their stadium is located, the Cambuursterhoek. In turn the district took its name from the medieval noble family, the van Camminghas, whose castle had previously been built on a spot near where the current stadium now stands. The club shield of SC Cambuur is taken from that of the van Cammingha family and comprises of a lying red deer surrounded by three black combs.


De Graafschap

With the introduction of professional football to the Netherlands in 1954 many towns and cities through the country expressed a desire to form their own professional club. Doetinchem, a city in the province of Gelderland close to the German border, decided they would join the party by creating the club BVC (Beroeps Voetbal Club – “Professional Football Club”) De Graafschap. Initially they were part of the NBvB but joined the KNVB when the two organisations merged in November 1954.

The KNVB stipulated that all their professional clubs must have an amateur section and so De Graafschap approached some of the local clubs with the idea of merging. Eventually they merged with VV Oosseld who became the amateur club with the professional club taking the new name VBV (Vereniging Betaald Voetbal – “Association of Professional Football) De Graafschap.

Graafschap is the Dutch word for “county”. Graaf means count or earl, i.e. a middle-ranking nobleman and “county” is derived from the region of land that was under the sovereignty of a count or earl. Graafschap is also another name for the Achterhoek region, in the eastern part of Gelderland, in which Doetinchem lies. The name is taken from the County of Zutphen which once occupied more or less the same area as the Achterhoek between 1046 and 1798.



Excelsior is a Latin word meaning “ever upward” or “always higher”. It is a comparative of the word “excelsus” (“high”). Despite what could be considered to be an elitist type name, in that it came from Latin, Excelsior were actually one of the first “working class” football clubs in the Netherlands. They were formed in July 1902 by a group of friends, many of whom worked in education, in Kralingen, a small village which had recently been added to the eastern suburbs of Rotterdam. It was one of these friends, Johan Blok, came up with the name RV &AV (Rotterdamsche Voetbal en Athletiek Vereeniging) Excelsior, usually shorted to simply Excelsior. It may well have come from the name of a previous club he had also helped to co-found which played on the Willemskade, on the northern bank of the River Meus.

The club played its matches on a piece of open ground called Woudenstein which had once been part of the estate of the 18th century country house Villa Woudesteyn. The villa was demolished in 1929. Apart from brief spells elsewhere Excelsior have played the majority of their home games at the Stadion Woudestein which today is located on the former playing field they had used in 1902. In 1989 the club changed its name to the current SBV (Stichting Betaald Voetbal – “Foundation of Professional Football) Excelsior.



Feijenoord is a district of Rotterdam located on the southern bank of the Nieuwe Maas River. It was part of the first expansion of the city south of the river. The district took its name from the former island of Fijenoord but as a result of sedimentation it is now part of the mainland. During the 19th century the district became an important centre for shipbuilding but this industry declined between the two wars. During the 1970s most of the district’s industrial buildings were replaced by housing and today it is home to many residents of a non-Dutch background although parts are currently becoming more and more gentrified.

In July 1908 a couple of boys who played football for the Wilhemina Church in Oranjeboomstraat in Feijenoord met at the “De Vereeniging” café and decided to form their own football team. Initially they named the club Wilhelmina after both their church and the current Queen of the Netherlands and played on a pitch at nearby Afrikaanderplein. After a number of name changes they were invited to join the NVB (the Dutch Football Association) in 1912 and changed their name again to SC (SportClub) Feijenoord. Five years later they moved to their name stadium Kromme Sandweg in the southern part of the Feijenoord district.

By the early 1930s the club’s success, including two league titles and a Dutch win, brought increasing numbers of spectators that the Kromme Sandweg was soon unable to accommodate and so plans were drawn up for a new stadium. This stadium, named Stadion Feijenoord (later to be more commonly known by the nickname “De Kuip” (the Tub) due to its shape) opened in 1937 but was actually just outside the border of the Feijenoord district in the neighbouring district of IJsselmonde.

Winning the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup meant the club was becoming increasingly well-known outside the Netherlands and so in 1973 the club decided to change its name to SC Feyenoord as it was felt that foreigners would have some trouble deciding how the “ij” digraph that is common in the Dutch language was pronounced. Four years later the amateur section of the club split off to form a separate entity which keep the SC Feyenoord name with the professional section taking the name Feyenoord Rotterdam. In 2010 SC Feyenoord once again became the amateur branch of the Feyenoord Rotterdam club.


FC Groningen

In 1915 the football club Unitas was formed in the northern Dutch city of Groningen by a group of students from the local university. They were far from being the first club from the city, that honour went to Be Quick who originated from 1887, but they quickly grew to be one of the most important in the region. Two years later they joined the Groningen FA and were forced to change their name as there were other clubs within the Netherlands already using the name Unitas. The new name they selected was GVAV (Groningen Football and Athletics Association). To reinforce their movement from simply a football club to one more association with other sports they also merged with a local athletics club, Rapiditas in 1921 to create the GVAV Rapiditas organisation. The football section continued using only the GVAV name whilst the athletics section kept only the Rapiditas name.

In 1939 they added the sports club gained a prefix to become GSV (Groninger Sportvereniging) GVAV Rapiditas. In 1965 it was decided to separate the professional and amateur sections of the football club with the amateur club continuing onward as GVAV Rapiditas whilst the professional were known as simply GVAV. By that time GVAV were the only professional club left in the city of Groningen after Be Quick decided to return to the amateur game in 1964. In 1970 GVAV were in trouble both on and off the pitch due to relegation from the Eredivisie after a decade and serious financial problems. They won immediate promotion back to the Eredivisie in 1971-72 but would return under a new name. It had been felt for a number of years that the name GVAV might be an obstacle to the club’s growth due to a lack of regional identity. Therefore it was decided to change the clubs name to FC Groningen.



The football club that is now known as SC Heerenveen was established in July 1920. Initially they were known as Athleta (Latin for “athlete”) but in 1922 changed their name to VV (Voetbal-vereniging – “Football Society”) Spartaan after merging with HBS, a team made up of students from a local school. When they joined the NVB in 1922 they were informed they as there were already several clubs that used the name Spartaan they had been registered as VV Heerenveen instead. In 1924 local club HVC merged with them as did another club VAC in 1936.

In the mid-1970s the club went through a period of financial turmoil and at one point were in serious danger of bankruptcy. To avoid this the amateur section of the club was split off and continued on as VV Heerenveen whilst the professional section became known as SC (SportClub) Heerenveen.


Heracles Almelo

In May 1903 two small clubs from Almelo, Hollandia and Inartie, decided to merge. The new club would be called Hercules, the demigod son of the Zeus – the king of the Greek gods, in order to follow the trend that was becoming increasingly common in the Netherlands of calling sports clubs after Greek heroes.

In 1906 they entered a request to become members of the NVB, which was subsequently accepted. However, there was already another club from Enschede with the name Hercules and so they were told to change their name. It was pointed out by a club member that Hercules was the Roman name of the god but in Greece he was known as Heracles and so this was chosen as their new name, more precisely AVC (Almelosche Voetbal Club) Heracles.

In 1974 it was decided to split off the amateur section of the club from the professional section. The amateur section would continue under the name AVC Heracles whilst the professional section took the new name SC (SportClub) Heracles ’74.

In the mid-1990s the club felt that their ground at Bornsestraat had become too small and outdated and approached the local council with plans for a new stadium. With much financial help from the council and local businessmen this new stadium was opened in September 1999. The previous year the council asked the club to change their name to incorporate the word “Almelo” in recognition of the role they had played in helped to build the new Polman Stadion. Therefore since 1998 they have been known as Heracles Almelo.



In the late 19th century all the football clubs that existed in the Netherlands were elitist entities that were formed by middle-class, educated boys who played on lush playing fields in wealthy suburbs. As time went on more and more working class youngsters started to play and one such group lived in the Lower City district of Nijmegen. The district was home to the poorest population of the city and was little more than a slum at that time. These boys played their game on the streets of the Lower City, one of these being the Waalkade which was part of the docks.

In November 1900 the boys decided to form their own football club, which they named Eendracht (“Unity”) after a motto on one of the gates of the city’s market square which said “Eendracht maakt macht” (“Unity is Strength”). The boys paid a fee of two cents per week which was used to buy equipment for the club. Eendracht is said to have been the first ever non-elitist football club in the Netherlands.

The main football club in Nijmegen at the turn of the century was Quick 1888, formed by local students in that year initially as a cricket club. After Quick merged with another local team, Velox, in 1906 former members of the latter decided to create a new club as they were unhappy with the elitist nature of Quick. This club, formed in 1908, would be NVV (Nijmeegsche Voetbal-vereeniging) Nijmegen who initially played their games on a site next to that used by Eendracht.

NVV found little success and two years later approached Eendracht with a proposal to merge the two clubs. In November 1910 this merger took place and the new club became known as NEC (Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie) which is the name still used today,


PEC Zwolle

In 1904 a football club was established in the Zwolle district of Assendorp with the name AVC (Assendorper Voetbal Club). After a number of name changes they settled upon the name EDN (Ende Desespereert Nimmer), meaning “And Never Despair”. Two years later another club was formed and took the name of the prince consort of the Netherlands at that time, Prins Hendrick (PH). They became members of the NVB in 1908, followed two years later by EDN.

EDN had been quite successful following their formation whilst PH had found it a bit of a struggle. Therefore it was decided, in June 1910 at the Hotel Koenders, to merge the two clubs in order to create a club that could more easily survive in the 2nd Class of the NVB league. This new entity was known as PEC (Prins Hendrik Ende Desespereert Nimmer Combinatie).

In 1969 PEC merged with their city rivals Zwolsche Boys who had decided to return to amateur status following 14 years of professional football. Two years later the club became PEC Zwolle in order to give higher promotion to their home city. In 1982 the club suffered great financial difficulties and almost went bankrupt before being rescued by local businessman Marten Elbrink. In doing so Elbrink restructured the club and to mark this changed its name to PEC Zwolle ’82.

However, the financial difficulties returned at the end of the 1980s and the club went bankrupt in March 1990. A new club, FC Zwolle, was then created to take the place of the old one. Shortly after gaining promotion to the Eredivisie in 2012 it was announced that the club’s name would return to PEC Zwolle in order to link the club to its past to a higher degree and to recognise the reputation the club achieved in the region when it went under this name.


PSV Eindhoven

Philips, a small company which produced various electro-technical products, was founded in Eindhoven in 1891. By 1910 it had grown into a large, successful company and in December of that year a number of its employees formed their own football team, the Philips Elftal (‘Eleven’). However, the club proved to be only short-lived as worker strikers and financial difficulties brought it to an end by the end of the 1912-13 season.

In August of that year the company organised a large celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from Napoleon Bonaporte’s French army in 1813. As part of the celebrations a sports organisation was created for the company’s employees. This was the Philips Sports Vereniging (PSV) with the Philips Elftal being resurrected to form the football branch of the club.

In 1916 the football club took the overall name of the PSV club and joined a proper league for the first time when it took part in the Brabant regional competition. In 1928 the football club allowed non Philips employees to play for them for the first time and as a result won their first ever Dutch title in the 1928-29 season.

The Philips company have remained close with PSV ever since it was formed and were introduced as the club’s first ever shirt sponsor in 1982. However, due to changes in the company’s marketing strategy they have refused to extend their current sponsorship contract which runs out in mid-2016 and so they will no longer be the main club sponsor after a period of 34 years. They will remain as the sponsor of the club’s home stadium, the Philips Stadion, which has been their home since it was first established as a sports field for the use of the company’s employees in 1910.


Roda JC

The club from Kerkrade that is today known as Roda JC is a combination of six clubs in total. Juliana, from the Kerkrade district of Spekholzerheide and named after the recently born Dutch princess, were formed in 1910. Four years later another club, vv Bleijerheide, were formed in the district of that name. Then, in 1926 vv Kerkrade, from the centre of the city, were created.

When professional football was introduced to the Netherlands in the 1954-55 season Rapid ’54, from nearby Heerlen, were formed in July 1954. In doing so they took many players from Bleijerheide which left that club severely weakened. As there were no suitable playing venues in Heerlen they were forced to share Juliana’s home ground, the 25000 capacity Municipal Sportpark in the district of Kaaiheide. Rapid ’54 took part in the league ran by the NBvB alongside nine other newly created teams whilst Kerkrade, Bleijerheide and Juliana participated in the KNVB competition which took place at the same time.

In November 1954 the NBvB merged with the KNVB and so both leagues were abandoned and a new competition began. Prior to the start of this new league it was decided to reduce the four Kerkrade clubs to two. Rapid ’54, who had a life of only four mouths, and Juliana created Rapid JC (Juliana Combinatie) who played their games in the Municipal Sportpark. Kerkrade and Bleijerheide formed Roda Sports who alternated their home games between the former’s Rolduckerstraat site and the latter’s Jonkerburgstraat ground.

At the end of the 1961-62 season Rapid JC found themselves relegated from the Eredivisie, which they had occupied since its first season in 1956-57. Roda Sport just missed out on promotion to the Eerste Divisie that season but that season proved to be their last. It was decided to merge Rapid JC and Roda Sport to form a new club, Roda JC, which would play in the Eerste Divisie for the 1962-63 season. To reward the local municipality, which had given the club financial help, “Kerkrade” was added to the club’s title in 2010 and so the current name is Roda JC Kerkrade.



FC Twente

In June 1906 a group of teenagers in Enschede formed a football club which they named Lotisco. A year later, when the club joined the local Twentsche Football Association, the name was changed to Excelsior and in 1910 the name became Enschede Boys. That same year another club was born in the city, Sportclub (SC) Enschede and the two teams became fierce local rivals. SC Enschede represented the more wealthy, middle-class members of the city’s population whilst De Boys were popular with the working class.

In the mid-1950s both clubs were suffering financial problems and the local municipality insisted that the two clubs should merge along with another team from Enschede, vv Rigtersbleek but the three team refused to do so. In 1956 a new football stadium, the Diekman Stadion, was opened in Enschede and all three of the city’s teams expressed their desire to move in. At that time SC were the more successful local club and so it was they who were allowed to play there.

After the end of the 1961-62 Rigtersbleek became an amateur club due to increasing financial problems whilst SC and De Boys were established Eredivisie and Eerste Divisie clubs respectively, albeit they were also suffering financial trouble. By 1965 the local municipality again put forward the idea of a merger between the two teams, and possibly also some of the other local sides such as Heracles from Almelo and HVV Tubantia from Hengelo. Eventually SC and De Boys decided to merge and in February 1965 a new club was born, FC Twente ’65. Twente being the region within the Dutch province of Overijssel where Enschede is located. The name of the city was left out of the new club’s title as it was hoped teams from other local towns and cities may also choose to join at a later date. Both SC Enschede and Enschede Boys would continue as amateur sides.

In 1980 the club dropped the ’65 suffix and became simply FC Twente.


FC Utrecht

Prior to 1970 the city of Utrecht had three professional football teams. Vv DOS (Door Oefening Sterk – “Strength Through Practice” were formed in 1901 and were the most successful of the three, winning the 2nd ever Eredivisie title in 1957-58. Velox, from the working class district of Tolsteeg, took their name from the Latin word for “fast” and joined the professional Dutch league in 1958. USV (Utrechtse Sportvereniging Elinkwijk) came from the northern district of Zuilen-Noord. USV managed a total of seven seasons in the Eredivisie between 1956 and 1970 but could finish no higher than 12th place whilst Velox’s highest position was 4th place in the Eerste Divisie in 1964-65.

By the late 1960s DOS, the largest of the three clubs, was suffering massive financial problems and had only narrowly escaped relegation from the Eredivise for a number of seasons. Both USV Elinkwijk and Velox had done well in the Eerste and Tweede Divisie respectively in the 1969-70 season but the municipality of Utrecht decided that in order to better guarantee the long-term future of football within the city the three clubs should be merged into one. And so, in the summer of 1970, FC Utrecht was born. The new club would play their home games at the Stadion Galgenwaard, formerly the home ground of DOS. DOS, USV Elinjwijk and Velox all continued to play at amateur level but only USV still exist today as DOS were disbanded in 2004 and Velox merged with another local amateur side SVVU in 1992.



Vitesse Arnhem

Vitesse, founded in 1892, are the 2nd oldest professional football club still in existence in the Netherlands, after Sparta Rotterdam who were formed in 1888. The roots of Vitesse actually pre-dated Sparta by a year as in 1887  a club with the name Arnhemche Cricket and Football Union Vitesse was formed by a group of youths who played their sport on the Rijnkade, overlooking the River Rhine in the city centre. They had chosen the name as they didn’t want to choose a word from the Latin or English languages as it was felt they were too elitist and so instead choose the French word “Vitesse”, meaning “speed”.

In 1891 the club disbanded as they were no longer able to find anywhere suitable to play cricket after a Velodrome was built on their usual playing field in the Klarenbeek Park. The following year a group of wealthy students resurrected the sports club, this time with the name AVC (Arnhemse Voetbal en Cricketclub) Vitesse. In the summer they played cricket and in the winter football.

In 1984 it was decided to split up the professional and amateur sections of the club. The professional section was renamed SBV (Stichting Betaald Voetbal – “Professional Football Foundation”) Vitesse whilst the amateur section became Vitesse 1892, which lasted until they went bust in 2009.


Willem II

In 1896 Gerard de Ruiter, who worked in the workshop at Tilburg train station, was a fan of football who wanted to form his own club in the city. After finding another twelve like-minded individuals the team Tilburgia was created in August of that year. In April 1898 it was decided to change the club’s name to Willem II to commemorate the Dutch King who spent much of his life in Tilburg and was responsible for building the city’s military barracks before his death there in 1849.

In the early 1970s the club went through a period of financial instability which resulted in its restructuring. In April 1972 the professional section of the club was renamed Sportclub Tilburg whilst the amateur section kept the name Willem II.  However, this change was short-lived due to it being unpopular and confusing and in December of the same year the professional team once more became Willem II.


Eerste Divisie


Achilles ’29

As their name suggests Achilles ’29 were formed in 1929. Their full name is actually RKSV (Rooms Katholieke Sport Vereniging – “Roman Catholic Sport Club”) Achilles ’29 which denotes their origin. The club was formed by a group of Catholic students in the Gelderland town of Groesbeek, close to the German border, who wished to form their own football team. They choose the name Achilles who, like Ajax, was a Greek hero of the Trojan War. Initially the club was a member of the RKVB (Roman Catholic Football Association), which was separate from the NVB (Dutch Football Association) and held their own national championship.

In 1940 the RKVB became part of the NVB and RKSV Achilles were forced to change their name to RKSV Groesbeek due to several other clubs in the NVB having the name Achilles. They were finally allowed to change their name back to Achilles in 1969 and added the ’29 suffix to signify the year of their foundation. They were promoted from the amateur Topklasse division to the professional Eerste Divisie in the 2012-13 despite losing the Topklasse championship playoff final to Katwijk, who hadn’t applied for promotion.


Jong Ajax, Jong PSV      

Both Jong Ajax, also known as Ajax 2, and Jong PSV are the reserve sides of Ajax and PSV respectively. They contain players contracted to either club who are youngsters who have recently been signed to a professional contract after having graduated from the youth teams or senior players who are coming back from injuries or have not been selected for first team duty.

Between 1992 and 2013 both teams played in the Beloften Eredivise, a competition comprising of reserve teams. In 2013 the KNVB decided to add new four teams to the Eerste Divisie following the bankruptcy of SC Veendam and AGOVV during the 2012-13 which had reduced the number of participants to 16. Initially it was decided that two amateur clubs would be promoted from the Topklasse Divisie alongside two reserve teams. Jong Ajax and Jong FC Twente were chosen for the latter two positions. Achilles ’29 took one of the amateur places but VV Katwijk, who won the 2012-13 Topklasse title, declined promotion and so it was decided to offer the final place to Jong PSV.

All three reserve clubs were ineligible for promotion to the Eredivisie and so cannot take part in the end of season playoffs should they finish in a qualifying position. At the end of the 2014-15 season Jong FC Twente withdrew from the Eerste Divisie as FC Twente disbanded their reserve side due to financial problems.


Almere City       

The city of Almere was built on polder land in the province of Flevoland which was reclaimed from the Ijseelmeer in the 1950s. The first house was built on the land in 1976 and eight years later it became a municipality for the first time. Nowadays it has a population of just under 200,000 is a popular living place for commuters working in Amsterdam about 20 miles to the west. In the mid-1990s the local council made plans to attract professional sport, including football, to the city. One local football team, Sporting Flevoland, was selected as a likely candidate to achieve this aim and today they exist as the Eerste Divisie club Almere City.

The roots of the current club can be traced back to 1954, long back to modern day city of Almere existed. BVC (Beroepsvoetbalclub) Amsterdam were formed in that year as a member of the newly created professional football association the NBvB. In 1958 BVC merged with another Amsterdam side, DWS (Door Wilskracht Sterk – “Strength Through Willpower) to become DWSA, the “A” standing for Amsterdam. They dropped the final letter to again become DWS in 1962 and two years later won the Dutch title one year after promotion, the only team to do so in the history of football in the Netherlands. In 1972 DWS merged with two other Amsterdam clubs, Blauw-Wit and De Volewijkers to form FC Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, in 1959 a group of supporters of BVC decided to start a new club to replace their old one. They called this club DVS (De Zwarte Schapen – “The Black Sheep”) after the nickname of BVC. In 1978 DVS merged with AVV Argonaut to become AZS (Argonaut Black Sheep). Between 1988 and 1992 they were known as FC Sloterpas as the district of Amsterdam in which they played. In 1992 the once more became DVS and moved to Almere two years later. In 1996 their name was changed again, this time to Sporting Flevoland.

When the local municipality decided to introduce professional sport to Almere in the mid-1990s a foundation with the name Omniworld Sport Marketing was created in 1998. This foundation approached Sporting Flevoland with the aim of creating a professional football club in the city. In 2001 the club became known as FC Omniworld. In 2005 the KNVB decided to increase the number of teams in the Eerste Divisie from 19 to 20 and FC Onmiworld were chosen as the new team after they met the three criteria for admission to the league. During the summer of 2010 the club changed its name to Almere City FC.


FC Den Bosch    

When professional football was introduced to the Netherlands in 1954 the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, more commonly known as Den Bosch, had one professional club, BVV (Bossche Voetbal Vereeniging). BVV were formed as NOAD in 1907 but became BVV in 1918 to avoid confusion with another team with the name NOAD, from Tilburg, who played in the same division. They were Dutch champions in 1948 when football was still amateur and were one of the founder members of the Eredivisie during its inaugural season in 1956-57.

The same season saw the introduction of both the Eerste and Tweede Divisies and another Den Bosch club were admitted as a member of the latter. RKVV Wilhelmina were a founded as a Roman Catholic team in 1897 and took their name from the Dutch Queen at the time of their creation. They became members of the KNVB when it merged with the RKVB (Roman Catholic Football Association) in 1940.

By the mid-1960s it was felt that the city of Den Bosch was unable to support two professional teams and a proposal was put forward that the two sides should merge. Instead BVV decided to split up their professional and amateur sections in 1965. BVV continued on as the amateur side whilst a new club, FC Den Bosch/BVV took over the professional licence. FC Den Bosch/BVV played in Tweede Divisie alongside their city rivals Wilhelmina in the 1965-66 season and managed to win promotion to the Eerste Divisie.

In the summer of 1967 Wilhelmina had had enough of professional football and decided to merge with FC Den Bosch/BVV, which was renamed FC Den Bosch ’67, whilst continuing as an amateur club under their old name. In 1988 they again changed their name, to BVV Den Bosch, and finally became FC Den Bosch in 1992.


FC Dordrecht     

The current club FC Dordrecht owe their origin to a group of cricketers who founded the Dordrechtsche Cricket Club (DCC) in August 1883. However, the growing popularity of football over the next few years led to the name being changed to the Dordrechtsche Cricket and Football Club (DCFC) in 1891. In fact football soon became so popular in the club that eight years later cricket was dropped completely and it became simply Dordrechtsche Football Club (DFC).

This name remained up until 1972 when the club was restructured with the professional and amateur sections being separated. The professional section then became FC Dordrecht whilst the amateur section continued as DFC Dordrecht. In 1979 a new organisation took over the club and in doing so decided that the club should now be known as DS ’79. The DS stood for Drechtsteden, the name of the region in which Dordrecht was situated.

In 1990 the club was taken over once more and the new investors changed its name again, this time to Dordrecht ’90. In 1990-91 they reached the Eerste Divisie playoffs but were unable to gain promotion. However Eredivisie club SVV, from Schiedam – a town to the west of Rotterdam, were going through financial problems and when plans for a new stadium in the town fell through it was decided they should merge with Dordrecht ’90. This new club was named SVV/Dordrecht ’90 and would take over SVV’s Eredivisie place in the 1991-92 season although the following season the SVV part was dropped and the club reverted to the Dordrecht ’90. Finally, in July 2002, the club changed its name to the present one of FC Dordrecht.


FC Eindhoven   

In November 1909 it was decided to combine two clubs from Eindhoven, Sparta and Eindhovia, to create a new club. This team took the name EVV (Einhovense Voetbal Vereninging). In 1921 another local side, Sparta Gestel, became part of EVV and the club’s name then became EVV Eindhoven.

In 1988 the professional and amateur sections of the club was separated. The professional club was renamed SC (Sportclub) Eindhoven whilst EVV Eindhoven continued on as an amateur club. The name then became SBV (Stichting Betaald Voetbal) Eindhoven in 1997 before settling on the current name, FC Eindhoven, in 2002.


FC Emmen          

In August 1925 two Emmen businessmen decided to create a new football team to replace three local clubs that had gone out of business a few months earlier. They called this new club NEC (Noordbarge Emmen Combinatie), Noordbarge being a small village close to Emmen where one of the former teams had been based. The team used players who had previously played for one of these three teams. Two years later the club changed its name to VV (Voetbalvereniging) Emmen.

Between 1925 and 1985 VV Emmen played only amateur football but in 1985 they were allowed to become the 19th member of the Eerste Divisie. They were thus only the 3rd ever club from the province of Drenthe to play professional football, after SC Drente (from the town of Klazienaveen, close to Emmen) who returned to amateur status in 1971. SC Drente had taken over the professional licence of VV Zwartemeer, also from Klazienveen, in 1965.

In 1988 the club, like many other Dutch teams had done previously, decided to split up its professional and amateur sections. VV Emmen would continue as an amateur side whilst the professional club became BVO (Betaald Voetbal Organisatie) Emmen. The final name change, to FC Emmen, took place in 2005.


Fortuna Sittard

The story of Fortuna Sittard begins in 1902 when two clubs were founded in the Limburg city of Sittard. First came VV Sittard, in April of that year, followed three months later by the Roman Catholic club RKVV Sittard Boys. In 1950 these two clubs joined together to create RKSV Sittardia. Four years later Sittardia, a member of the KNVB, participated in the first ever season of Dutch professional football.

In the nearby city of Geleen another professional club, Fortuna ’54, was formed in 1954 and took part in the rival NBvB competition. They were leading the competition when it was disbanded after 11 rounds due to the two competing football associations joining together. The two neighbouring clubs then took part in the restarted KNVB competition, both as members of the B Division. Fortuna ’54 were the more successful of the two, winning the Dutch Cup on two occasions (in 1957 and 1964) and spending all their seasons in the Eredivisie whilst Sittardia were more of a yo-yo club who alternated between the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie.

In the 1967-1968 both clubs filled the two relegation places in the Eredivisie and both were also suffering financially. So it was then decided to merge the two clubs. Thus, Fortuna Sittardia Combinatie (FSC) was born. However, the new club maintained the Eredivisie of its parent clubs due to the bankruptcy of the Rotterdam club XerxesDZB. Up until the middle of 1970 they played alternatively in both Sittard and Geleen before settling permanently in the former. From 1979 onwards they have been known as SC (Sportclub) Fortuna Sittard.


Go Ahead Eagles            

In 1902, in the Overijssel city of Deventer, two friends created what was then one of the first working class football clubs in the Netherlands, Be Quick. In 1905 they were admitted to the NVB on the condition that their name was changed to avoid any confusion with another club with the same name from Groningen. Thus from then now they became known as DVV (Deventer Voetbal Vereniging) Go Ahead.

In 1971 it was decided that the amateur and professional sections of the club would be separated. The amateur section continued on as DVV Go Ahead but the professional section decided a new name was required. The club’s coach at the time was the Welshman Barry Hughes. Hughes had noticed that Deventer’s coat of arm featured an eagle and so made the suggestion that the suffix “Eagles” should be added to the club’s name. He also insisted that the word should be in English, rather than the Dutch “Adelaars” so as to give the club more international recognition. In acknowledgement of the new name the club’s ground became De Adelaarshorst (“The Eyrie”).


Helmond Sport

The story of Helmond Sport began in October 1916 with the formation of SC Helmondia. Three years later came the creation of another Helmond club, Kolping (named after the German priest Adolf Kolping) followed by another, SDW (Samenspel Doet Winnen – “ Winning Through Teamwork”) in 1920. In 1927 Kolping and SDW merged to form Kolping/SDW.

1955 saw a restructuring of the recently introduced professional Dutch football league system with a second level Eerste Klasse added beneath what was then known as the Hoofdklasse. The city of Helmond would have two teams competing in the Eerste Klasse. One was the previously existing amateur side HVV Helmond and the second was a new club, created through the merger of SC Helmondia and Kolping/SDW. The new club was named RKSV (‘Roman Catholic Sport Organisation) Helmondia ’55.

In 1967 it was decided to separate the club’s professional and amateur sides. The amateur side continued on under the RKSV Helmondia ’55 name until 1985 when they became SC Helmondia ’55 and then simply SC Helmondia in 2001. The professional side settled upon the name Helmond Sport and replaced RKSV in the Second Division.




In 1902 a group of friends met in a café on the main square of Maastricht, the Vrijhof, with plans to create their own football club. This club was given the name MVC (Maastrichtse Voetbal Club) and was only open to players who were born within the city limits. Over the next few years further clubs came into being. The following year Maastricht got a 2nd football club, MVV (Maastrichtse Voetbal Vereniging), who shared MVC’s ground in the district of Amby.  This club was formed by players from outside Maastricht and so there was quite a rivalry between the two ground-sharers. Then, in 1904, two more teams arrived, Vitesse and Trapper followed by a fifth, Swift, in 1905. The latter club would join with Trapper in 1906.

Despite their rivalry it was decided to merge MVC and MVV in 1905. There was much debate over what the new name should be. Eventually a decision was reached and MFC (Maastrichtse Football Club) was the result. A further merger took place in 1908 when both Vitesse and Trapper became part of MFC’s structure to create a new club with an old name MVV. Over the next three years more local teams became part of MFC with HBS joining in 1909 and Concordia in 1911.

In 1978 the amateur section of the club was split off and continued on as MVV ’02 until its demise in 2004. In 2010 the club was in serious financial difficulty and looked unlikely to lose their professional license. However, agreements were finally met with the club’s creditors and so they were allowed to take part in the 2010-11 season, albeit with an 8 point deduction.


NAC Breda         

In July 1895 a group of sportsmen in Breda created a club with the name NOAD (Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorzetten – “Never Give Up Always Persevere”). The club played cricket in the summer and football in the winter and was the 2nd such sports club to be formed in the city, after Brabantia (formed in 1890). In November 1904 Breda received another team when ADVENDO (Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning – “Pleasant for Entertainment and Useful for Relaxation”) was born.

In 1912 an agreement to merge NOAD and ADVENDO was reached. The former’s official expressed their desire that the new club should keep the name of their club by combining both names (NOAD and ADVENDO) but this was overruled by the officials of the latter club. After much tense deliberations it was a suggestion was made to name the new club NAC (NOAD ADVENDO Combinatie) which was finally accepted. NAC were accepted into the NVB later that year. As both of the merged clubs have names made up of abbreviations the full name of the club thus can be expanded to Nooit opgeven altijd doorgaan Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning Combinatie Breda.


FC Oss  

In the late 1920s in the Noord-Brabant city of Oss three friends, Toon Steinhauser and the brothers Piet and Cor van Schijndel, could often be found playing football in the main square after school. In April 1928 they decided they would form their own football club and decided to give it the name KMD (Klein Maar Dapper – “Small But Brave”). They later found that the name had already been chosen by a number of other clubs and so, in 1931, decided to change the name to sv TOP (Sportvereniging Tot Ons Plezier – “For Our Pleasure”).

TOP had two seasons of professional football between 1955 and 1957 before returning to amateur status after performing poorly. In 1991 they decided to try again and submitted a request to the KNVB that they wished to re-join the professional league. After meeting all the necessary criteria they were allowed to join the Eerste Divisie for the 1991-92 season. SV Top continued on as an amateur club whilst the new professional club was known simply as TOP.

In 1994 the club became TOP Oss, to reflect their city of origin. Finally, in 2009, they took their current name of FC Oss. They were relegated from the Eerste Divisie to the amateur Topklasse division the following season but made an immediate return to professional football after winning the Topklasse title and have remained there since.


RKC Waalwijk  

The city of Waalwijk was home to a number of Roman Catholic football clubs in the early part of the 20th century. Two of these clubs were Excelsior (formed in 1909) and Hercules (formed in 1919). The two clubs merged into HEC (Hercules Excelsior Combinatie) in 1921. Two more clubs were created in 1934. The first was WVH (Waalwijkse Voetbalvereniging Hercules) and the second was WVB (Waalwijkse Voetbalvereniging) Besoijen, from the Waalwijk suburb of that name. In 1940 the Roman Catholic Football Association became part of the NVB and so it was decided to merge HEC, WVH and WVB to create one larger club. This club was RKC (Rooms Catholic Combinatie).

Between 1940 and 1984 RKC were only an amateur club but in the latter year they finally decided to enter professional football after winning the Dutch amateur championship in both 1981 and 1982. Prior to the 1995-96 season the club added “Waalwijk” to the club’s name.


Sparta Rotterdam

Sparta are the oldest professional football team in the Netherlands having been formed by a group of Rotterdam students in 1888. For the first few months of their existence they were a cricket club, RCC (Rotterdamse Cricket Club) only but in July 1888 it was decided to add a football section to become RC & FC (Rotterdamse Cricket and Football Club). They played their first proper football match in 1890 and two years later the cricket section was disbanded whilst the athletics department, established in 1889, continued.

In 1897 the club changed its name to RV & AV (Rotterdamse Voetbal and Athletiek Vereniging) Sparta in recognition of its new setup. Cricket returned to the club in 1910 and other sports such as tennis (1921) and baseball (1942) were also later added. In 1976 the professional football section of the club decided to break off on their own and became Sparta Rotterdam with the amateur football section continuing onwards as Sparta AV.



In 1954 professional football was introduced to the Netherlands for the first time. Two of the new professional clubs were VSV (Velseroorder Sports Vereniging), from the small town of Velserbroek, and IJVV (Ijmuidensche Voetbal Vereniging) Stormvogels (in English “Petrel”, a small seabird), from the neighbouring industrial town of IJmuiden.

Between 1957 and 1962 both clubs were established second tier clubs but both were relegated to the third-tier Tweede Divisie at the end of the 1961-62 season following a restructuring of the Dutch league system.

VSV actually won promotion back to the Eerste Divisie at the first attempt whilst Stormvogels finished in 10th place. However due to both clubs suffering from financial problems it was decided that the two clubs should be merged to form one new professional club. The organisation of the new club thought long and hard about what name it should now be known as. They rejected the names of Greek gods or geographical areas which most other clubs had chosen and instead looked to outer space for inspiration. In 1962 a new communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral. Its name was Telstar and to celebrate this that name was also chosen as the name, as SC Telstar, of the new football club that would be based in the town of Velsen-Zuid, after halfway between Velserbroek and IJmuiden.

Both VSV and Stormvogels continued on as amateur clubs. The latter once more became part of the setup in 2001 through a merger to create Stormvogels Telstar. The idea was to aid the club through players developed through the youth system but the expected benefits did not come to fruition and the two clubs separated again in 2008 with the club reverting once again to the SC Telstar name.


FC Volendam    

In 1920 in the Noord-Holland fishing village of Volendam a group of footballers who were unable to get a game for the team from the neighbouring village of Edam decided to form their own football team. They give this club the name Victoria and they played in a black and red kit. Three years later they changed their name to simply Volendam. In 1929 the club’s colours switched to the orange and black they still used today. Volendam is a strongly Catholic village and initially the team played only in the Catholic Football Association (RKVB) in which they won the national title twice, in 1935 and 1938.

In 1939 the club became RKSV Volendam in recognition of their Catholic roots but the following year the RKVB became part of the NVB and therefore RKSV joined the amateur Dutch football league system and eventually the professional league in 1955. In 1977 the amateur and professional sections of the club were split up and RKSV Volendam continued on as an amateur side. The newly formed professional club took the name FC Volendam which they continue to be known as today.



At the end of the 19th century three different football teams made use of the main market square in Venlo, the Gaasplein. These teams – Broerderschool, VITOS and THOR – were unorganised and consisted of anywhere between 10 and 20 boys who played regular games against each other. Eventually it was decided to try and form a more organised setup and a meeting was held on the pavement behind the City Hall. As a result the club “De Gouden Leeuw” (The Golden Lion) was formed. The team then went through a number of different titles, one of which was Valuas, named after the legendary chief of the Bructeri who lived in the region between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. In February 1903 the club received yet another new name, VVV (Venlose Voetbal Vereniging). In 1909 VVV absorbed both the VITOS and THOR clubs following in 1910 by another, Quick.

When professional football was introduced in the Netherlands in 1954 the first professional club in Venlo was not VVV but their city rivals Sportclub Venlo ’54, who were members of the newly created NBvB. Sportclub actually played in the first ever professional football match against Alkmaar ’54 in August 54. The NBvB then merged with the KNVB in November 1954 and it was then decided to merge Sportclub and VVV to create a new club, Sportclub Venlo ’03. In 1966 the amateur and professional sections of the club were separated. The amateur section continued on as VVV ‘-03 whilst the professional club became FC VVV. In 1986 the FC prefix was dropped with the club then becoming simply VVV. Finally, in 2003, Venlo was added to create the current name VVV Venlo.





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History of the Copa America – Part One : Beginnings

The 44th version of the Copa America is currently taking place in Chile. Next year will see the centenary of what is the World’s first ever continental football competition. The 2016 tournament will see the current ten members of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) play alongside six teams from the neighbouring CONCACEF confederation which covers teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean. The first Copa America in 1916, although it was then known as the South American Championship (it gained its current name in 1975), involved only four teams – Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. It would be another 40 years before the second continental football trophy, the Asian Cup, was created.

International football officially began in November 1872 when Scotland and England participated in a goal-less draw in Glasgow. In 1876 Wales became the third international team and in 1882 Ireland became the fourth. The 1883-84 saw the inauguration of the first ever international tournament, the British Home Championship, involving all four British teams. The tournament ran for 100 years before finally being disbanded in the 1983-84 season.

During the remainder of the 19th century organised football gradually spread throughout the rest of Europe and eventually, to other continents. In 1893 the Argentine Association Football League, now the AFA – Argentine Football Association, became the first organised football association in South America. Its founder was the Scottish-born Alexander Watson Hutton and it was expatriate Brits who played a large part in the development of football in other South American countries in the late 19th century. British immigrants had introduced the game to the continent in the 1860s and the first recognised football match was held in Buenos Aires in 1867 between two teams of railway workers.

Many football clubs started out playing other sports such as rugby or cricket and only later switched to football. The first game to be played in Uruguay may well have been played between teams representing Montevideo Rowing Club and Montevideo Cricket Club in 1881 and the first football only team, Albion FC were founded the following year by an English teacher at the William Leslie Poole School in Montevideo. The first Uruguayan league title was won by the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club in 1900. In this year the Uruguayan Football Association (UAF) was also created. The CURCC club was originally made up of employees of the British-owned Central Uruguay Railway Company and had initially played both cricket and rugby before changing sports to football in 1892. In 1914 the club changed its name to Club Atletico Peñarol, after the district in which it was located, and nowadays are the most successful club in the history of Uruguayan football with 49 league titles to their name.

In Peru the football section of the Lima Cricket club won that country’s first title in 1912 whilst another of the oldest clubs were Ciclista Lima, belonging to a local cycling club. Initially only clubs from Lima took part in the Peruvian League but later clubs from neighbouring Callao were added. Only in 1966 did teams from other parts of the country participate in the first Peruvian national league. The Football Association of Chile (FAC) was formed in 1895 following a meeting held in Valparaiso, organised by the English journalist David N. Scott. The first football club in Chile had been formed by students of the Mackay and Sutherland School, mostly children of British and Chilean aristocracy, in that city in 1882.

It was a Dutchman, William Paats, who is said to have introduced football to Paraguay. 18 year-old Paats moved from the Netherlands to the capital of Paraguay, Ascuncion, in 1894 and soon afterwards became employed as a Physical Education instructor at a local school. After a trip to Buenos Aires he returned to Paraguay carrying a football, something which was virtually unknown in that country. Before too long the sport had grown to become very popular, initially with member of the elite but later with people from all social statuses. In 1902 Paat formed the first club in Paraguay, Club Olimpia, and in 1906 there were sufficient clubs for the creation of both the Paraguayan Football League and the Paraguayan Football Association (APF).

Charles Miller, the son of a Scottish railway engineer, was born in Sao Paulo in 1874 then sent away to public school in England where he learned to play football and cricket. Upon his return to Brazil once his schooling was complete Miller brought with him two footballs and a set of rules. In 1901 he decided to create a league, the Liga Paulista, for the various teams which had been created by the many British and European immigrants found throughout the Sao Paulo region at the turn of the century. In the league’s first season Miller’s club Sao Paulo AC won the title with Miller himself being the league’s top goal-scorer. In 1914 the Confederação Brasileira de Desportos (Brazilian Sports Confederation) was created and was responsible for the organisation of all sport within the country. It was only in 1979 that an organisation solely responsible for football, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF), was formed.

Football in other South America took longer to establish. The first club in Ecuador was established by the Wright brothers, Juan and Roberto, who had lived in England and had played for the Union Cricket football side in Peru before returning to their home city of Guayaquil in 1899. Soon afterwards they created the Guayaquil Sports Club and over the next few years other clubs formed both in that city and in the capital, Quito. In Colombia the game was introduced around 1900 by English workers from the Colombia Railways Company who had been employed to build tracks linking the city of Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast, to various cities inland. Organised football didn’t arrive in Bolivia and Venezuela until the 1920s and was only played in a regional basis up until fairly recently.

Many British teams also toured South America at this time and initially the gulf between these clubs and the local sides was vast and many heavy defeats were suffered. Charles Miller’s old club Southampton visited Argentina and Uruguay in 1904 and easily won every match. Nottingham Forest tour of Argentina the following year saw them win every game, scoring 57 goals in their 8 games whilst scoring 3, although 13 of these came against a selection made up of local British players. Corinthians FC, another club Miller has once played for during his time in England, made two tours of Brazil, in 1910 and 1913. After their first trip they so impressed a group of local railway workers that they decided to form their own team named after the English club. Sport Club Corinthians Paulista are now one of the most popular, and successful, clubs in Brazil.

Exeter City toured Argentina and Brazil in 1914 and lost only 2 of their 11 matches. The first loss came in the first game of the tour, only 12 hours after they had got off the boat following their long voyage from England. The other loss, 2-0, came in their final match of the tour, against a Brazilian Select XI. This is believed to the first ever game played by the Brazilian national side. In 2004 Exeter City celebrated their centenary and, to celebrate, played a friendly against a team made up of former Brazilian legends, who won 1-0, in recognition of the part they had played in Brazilian football history. Over time the immigrants, often from the elite class, playing for many of the South American teams were replaced by talented native-born players and the standard slowly improved.

May 1901 saw the first ever international football match played in South America, indeed the first one played outside of the British Isles, when teams representing Uruguay and Argentina met in Montevideo with the latter winning 3-2. Many of these teams were either British immigrants or sons of British immigrants and there is some doubt over the official status of this match. The game between the two countries in July 1902, in which Argentina won 6-0 (still Uruguay’s biggest ever defeat) is often referred to as both sides official international debut instead. Uruguay and Argentina would go on to play each other regularly over the next few years in various different tournaments. The Copa Lipton – named after Sir Thomas Lipton, the Scottish tea magnate who donated the trophy – began in 1905 and was a tournament between teams made up of native born players from either country. The first Copa Lipton match was held in Buenos Aires and was won by Uruguay following a goal-less draw as they were the away team.

In 1906 another competition between the two countries was introduced, the Copa Newton, named after a director of the AFA, Nicanor Newton. As with the Copa Lipton the tournament was used to raise money for charitable causes such as looking after the poor children of each participant. Both cups were played once a year up until 1913, apart from 1910 when no Copa Newton took place, with the venue alternating between each country. On a number of occasions both cup took place simultaneously with one version of the Argentina and Uruguay teams playing in Montevideo whilst different versions took to the field in Buenos Aires.

Up until the 1929 both cups continued to take place regularly but after this date they occurred only sporadically. The Copa Newton was abolished in 1976 whilst the Copa Lipton lasted until 1992. Further tournaments between Argentina and Uruguay also existed. The Copa Premier Honor Argentina was played annually in Buenos Aires between 1908 and 1912 whilst the Copa Premier Honor Uruguay took place once a year in Montevideo between 1911 and 1924.

In 1910 the AFA announced plans to hold a football tournament, the Copa Centenario Revolución de Mayo, to mark the 100th anniversary of the May Revolution. This event, which took place in Buenos Aires in May 1810, marked the beginning of the movement that would eventually lead to the independence of Argentina from Spain in 1816. For this tournament the now traditional rivals of Argentina and Uruguay were joined by a new opponent, Chile. This was therefore the first ever South American international tournament to feature more than two teams. Chile made their international debut against the hosts in Buenos Aires two days before the tournament began and lost 3-1 despite taking the lead through Frank Simmons of the Badminton Football Club in Valparaiso.

The tournament format was that of a round-robin in which all three teams played each other once. Two venues within Buenos Aires were used – the Estadio Gimnasia y Esgrima and the home stadium of the Colegiales club in the Palermo district. In the first game Uruguay beat Chile 3-0, who then went down 5-1 to Argentina, for whom Juan Enrique “Harry” Hayes (the son of English immigrants) scored twice. Hayes also scored in Argentina’s 4-1 win over Uruguay in the final game of the tournament with another goal coming from Arnold Watson Hutton, son of the Scot Alexander Watson Hutton who had founded the AFA in 1893. This enabled Argentina to finish top of the table with two wins out of two.

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was created in 1904 to act as an international governing body for the fast growing sport of football. More and more international fixtures were being played around the world but and initially all of its members were from Europe. In 1909 South Africa became the first non-European country to join and Argentina was the first country from South America to become a member of FIFA in 1912. The following year Chile achieved provisional affiliation and this was followed by full membership in 1914.

A new international tournament also arrived in 1914 when the former president of Argentina and current ambassador to Brazil, General Julio Argentino Roca, had the idea of a cup that was to be played between his country and their northern neighbour Brazil. General Roca donated a trophy to the Argentine Football Federation (FAF), who had broken away from the Argentine Football Association in 1912 in order to create a rival league, one that wasn’t recognised by FIFA. For three seasons the FAF league ran alongside that organised by the AFA and thus between 1912 and 1914 Argentina had two different title winners.

Before the Copa Roca Brazil and Argentina played a friendly game in Buenos Aires which was won 3-0 by the home side, of of whose goals came in the first half. It is said that Roca told Argentina to ease off in the second half to prevent the visitors from taking a heavier beating which he felt would be disrespectful. This was Brazil’s first ever official international game, following their unofficial fixture versus the club side Exeter City the previous month. One of the Brazilians making his debut against Argentina was the forward Arthur Friedenreich, son of a German immigrant. Friedenreich would go on to win 25 caps for Brazil but he was much more successful in Brazilian club football and finished his career as one of the most prolific goal-scorers of all time with an estimated haul of 1329 goals in his 1239 games.

A week later the two teams met again in the the Estadio Gimnasia y Esgrima to decide the Copa Roca. After 13 minutes Rubens Sales, who was also coaching the Brazilian team alongside Sylvio Lagreca, put his team Brazil. This would be the only game Sales would play for his national team. Roca’s initial plan for the tournament was to play it once a year for three consecutive years with the first team to win it twice keeping the trophy permanently. However, The FAF merged with the AFA in 1915 and thus disappeared from the Argentine football scene with the result that the remaining two matches were never played. General Roca himself died only three weeks later at the age of 71.

Eight years later in, 1922, it was decided to resurrect the Copa Roca and this time the venue would be Sao Paulo in Brazil. Brazil’s 2-1 victory, with both of their goals coming from Alberto Gambaretto (known as “Gamba”), was their second consecutive win enabling them to keep the trophy outright. Despite this another fixture took place the following year and Argentina claimed the the first Copa Roca victory thanks to a 2-1 win. The cup returned again in 1939 after a break of 17 years and this time the format consisted of a number of games played in both countries with the overall winner taking the trophy until the following edition was played. Between 1939 and 1976 the Copa Roca took place eight times, at irregular intervals, with Brazil winning five outright, Argentina two outright and the two countries sharing the penultimate title in 1971.

In October 1913 an article was published in the newspaper La Argentina outlining plans for a new football tournament which was to be organised by the Argentina Football Association. This so-called “Copa America” would involve teams from Uruguay, Chile and Brazil alongside the host country and would be held in Buenos Aires on a date to be fixed later. The author of the article was Juan Claudio Susan, a former player, referee and current director with Estuadiantes and brother of club idol, and Argentina international, Maximiliano Susan. The three countries accepted the invitation to play in the tournament but it wouldn’t take place until three years later, in celebration of the centenary of Argentina’s independence on July 9th,1816.

By 1916 five South American countries – Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil had their own individual football federations, although only the first two were affiliated with the worldwide football governing body, FIFA. Paraguay had no national team at that point (they wouldn’t play their first international until 1919) and so had not received an invitation to the now called South American Championship. For the purposes of organising the Championship tournament the former president, of the Uruguayan Football Association (UAF), Héctor Rivadavia Gómez, proposed that delegates from football association of each of the four participants should get together.

On July 9th, the exact date of Argentina’s independence from Spain, a meeting was held in Buenos Aires which members of the FA’s from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil attended and agreed in principle that one governing body responsible for the organisation of football within South America should be formed. In December 1916 a meeting was held at the headquarters of the UAF in Montevideo which confirmed the formation of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL). It was the first ever continental football confederation and was another 38 years before the formation of the next, UEFA in 1954.

The four teams took part in a single round-robin group with all six games being held at the Estadio Gimnasia y Esgrima, in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires. The opening game, on 2nd July, saw Uruguay easily beat Chile 4-0 with José Piendibene scoring the first ever goal in the tournament. His later added another goal and Isabelino Gradin also managed a brace. Gradin was the great-grandson of slaves originating from Lesotho in Southern Africa and he and his team-mate Juan Delgado were the first ever black players to represent their country during an international tournament. Chile complained both before and after the game, that the result should be annulled due to the fact Uruguay had selected “Africans”. Once it was pointed out that the pair had been born in Uruguay the Chileans relented.

Chile fared ever worse in their second game against Argentina, losing 6-1, with Alberto Ohaco, Juan Domingo Brown and Alberto Marcovecchio all scoring twice. The third game saw Chile managed a 1-1 with Brazil and this was also the result in the game between Argentina and Brazil.  In the penultimate match Uruguay beat Brazil, playing in a green and yellow striped shirt, 2-1 with the opening goal coming from Arthur Friedenreich before Gradin and Tognola replied for La Celeste  (‘The Sky Blues’). Therefore the final game, between Argentina and Uruguay, would prove to be the title decider. Uruguay had 4 points at that stage whilst Argentina had 3 points and so needed to win.

The game took place on the 16th July and created much interest within Argentina and Uruguay. The Estadio Gimnasia y Esgrima was considered to be one of the best stadiums in South America but had a capacity of only 18,000. However, around 30,000 people turned up and even before the game had kicked off the atmosphere both inside and outside the group was unruly. After just five minutes of play many spectators flooding onto the pitch as the stands were unable to hold such numbers. In response the referee ordered the players to return to the dressing rooms. This led to the crowd becoming even angrier. Sections of the stadium were damaged whilst one of the wooden stands was set alight. Eventually there was no other cause of action available other than abandoning the match.

It was decided to replay the game the following day, this time at the Estadio Racing in the Avellaneda district as the Estadio Gimnasia y Esgrima was now unusable due to the damage it had attained the previous day. This game passed without much incident and the goal-less draw meant that Uruguay were crowned as the first ever South American champion. However, they received no trophy as one had yet to be created. Later that year the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs donated a trophy that had been manufactured at the La Casa Escasany jewellers in Buenos Aires at a cost of 3,000 Swiss francs. This trophy would be up for grabs for the first time the following year when, due to the success of the initial edition of the tournament, the South American Championship would be repeated.


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The Battle of Montevideo

The first European Cup took place in 1955 and later that decade an equivalent competiton to decide the best club in South America was proposed. A number of such competitions had taken place previously, in particular the 1948 South American Championship of Champions which included the national champions, or the nearest equivalent, of seven countries. The tournament, held in Chile, was won by Vasco da Gama of Brazil and was considered a big success.

At the 1958 Congress of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) in Rio de Janeiro the President of UEFA, Henry Delaunay, put forward a proposal for a competition between the top clubs in Europe and South America, the Intercontinental Cup. But first a competition to decide the top South American side would be required. After numerous discussions between the various Confederation members it was agreed at the next CONMEBOL congress in Buenos Aires to create a tournament named after the important figures – Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin, etc. – who had been involved in the wars of independence against Spain in the early 19th century. And so the Copa Libertadores was born.

The first Copa Libertadores was won by Uruguayan club Penarol, thanks to seven goals from their star striker Alberto Spencer of Ecuador. They would go on to play the great Real Madrid side featuring the likes of Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano, who had won the European Cup every season since its introduction. Real won the first every Intercontinental Cup thanks to a 5-1 win in Madrid following a goal-less draw in Montevideo. The first six  editions of the competition saw the involvement of some other great teams –Benfica, Santos, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Independiente – and players – Pele, Eusebio, Rivera, Mazzola and the standard of the football played was generally very high.

In 1966 the Copa Libertadores was expanded and runners-up were also allowed to participate. This decision upset the Brazilian FA clubs who argued the competition should be only for national champions. In protest they declared that their clubs, including Pele’s Santos, would not in involved in that year’s competition and instead decided to play friendlies, which were a lot more lucrative. The Brazilian clubs were also unhappy at the increase in violence used by many of the teams from Argentina and Uruguay, in particular.

The 1966 World Cup would also see the Argentina national team described as “animals” by England’s manager Alf Ramsey following a tempestuous meeting between the two countries in the quarter-finals in which Argentina’s captain Antonio Rattin was sent off.

The following year’s Copa Libertadores again saw Santos, the Brazilian runners-up, refuse to participate. This made Argentinean champions Racing Club’s path to the title slightly easier than it would otherwise have been and they won their 1st continental title, and Argentina’s 3rd in four seasons, following a 2-1 play-off win over Nacional of Uruguay in Santiago, Chile, following two goal-less draws in the home and away legs. In doing so they would travel to Scotland to face Celtic of Glasgow, who had become the first British club to win the European Cup.

Racing Club, from the city of Avellaneda which was located within the Greater Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, were one of the traditional “big five” of Argentinean football along with Boca Juniors, River Plate, San Lorenzo and Independiente. The latter club also come from Avellaneda and were Racing’s big rivals. No club outside of these five had won a national title since a professional league was introduced in 1931. Racing won three consecutive titles between 1949 and 1951 and then in both 1958 and 1961 (resulting in the 1st appearance in the Copa Libertadores). However, with 14 games remaining in the 1965 season they were last in the Primera Division and club legend Juan Jose Pizzuti became their 7th manager in little over a year. Over the remainder of the season his team were unbeaten and somehow managed to finish in 5th place.

In 1966 Racing were also unbeaten in their first 25 games before losing 2-0 away to River Plate. This unbeaten streak of 39 games was a record that would last until 1999. The defeat by River Plate was the only one they suffered that season and they won the title with two games to spare, finally finishing five points clear of River Plate having scored 70 goals, and conceded 24, in their 38 games.

Pizutti team include the Argentina international Roberto Perfumo and Nelson Chabay, part of Uruguay’s 1966 World Cup team, in defence and Humberto Maschio (who played for Italy in the infamous “Battle of Santiago” versus Chile in the 1962 World Cup, as well as for his native Argentina) up front. Other members of the team – Alfredo Basile (who would go on to manage Argentina’s national side on two occassions), Juan Carlos Rulli, and Juan Carlos Cardenas – would go on to win international caps in the next few years. The following season they were further strengthened by the arrival of striker Norberto Raffo from Banfield and Brazilian midfielder João Cardoso. Raffo would finish at the top-scorer in the 1967 Copa Libertadores with 14 goals

Celtic were, along with their great Glasgow rivals Rangers, one of the traditional Old Firm clubs that dominated Scottish football. However, prior to the 1965-66 season they had won only one title, in 1953-54, since 1938 and their 20 titles trailed well behind Ranger’s 34. They had recently appointed Jock Stein, a former Celtic player, as manager. Stein, the first Protestant to manage the traditionally Catholic club, and only their 4th ever manager, achieved instant success, winning the 1965-66 Scottish title by finished 2 points ahead of Rangers as well as the League Cup. This would be the first or nine consecutive Scottish titles they would win.

The following season they broke all kinds of records. As well as retaining their title Celtic won the four other competitions they entered in the 1966-67 season, scoring a world record 196 goals in the process, with the majority coming from Stevie Chalmers, Joe McBride and Tommy Lennox. Domestically they were victorious in the Scottish Cup, League Cup and Glasgow Cup and they would also make their debut in the European Cup that season. After straight-forward wins over FC Zurich and Nantes in the first two rounds Celtic had narrower victories against FK Vojvodina of Yugoslavia and the Czech side Dukla Prague in the Quarter Final and Semi Final respectively. This set up a final against the Italian giants Inter Milan, twice winners of the European Cup and strong favourites to add a third title.

Joe McBride missed the Lisbon final due to a knee injury and resulted in him missing most of the second half of the season whilst Inter were at full strength. The Italians took the lead after only seven minutes through a penalty which was converted by Mazzola but second half goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers took the European Cup to the British Isles for the first time in its history. All but one member of Celtic’s squad, or the “Lisbon Lions” as the team become known, were born within 15 miles of their home ground with Bobby Lennox being the odd one out due to his birthplace of Saltcoats, 30 miles from Celtic Park.

The first leg of the 1967 Intercontinental Cup was played in front of 100,000 spectators at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 18th October. The only change in Celtic’s line-up from the European Cup final was John Hughes instead of Stevie Chalmers. Racing also had only one change from their Copa Libertadores play-off. It was a close affair that was settled by a 67 minute header from Celtic’s captain Billy McNeil. In the act of scoring McNeil received an elbow to the face which left him with a black eye in the days that followed. Racing’s players conducted similarly violent tactics throughout the match with tripping, elbowing, kicking and even spitting commonplace, even when Celtic didn’t have possession. At half-time Celtic’s winger Jimmy Johnstone returned to the dressing room with his hair soaked with Argentine spit. Celtic manager Jock Stein was forced to enter the field of play to remonstrate with the referee at Johnstone’s treatment, to no avail.

Just prior to the 2nd leg in Avellaneda Celtic were forced to play in the Scottish League Cup final, where they won 5-3 over Dundee United. The SFA also allowed Jimmy Johnstone, who was serving a 21-day domestic ban, to travel to South America. The few Celtic fans that travelled to the match were urinated upon by Racing Club fans in the upper tier. Celtic’s keeper, Ronnie Simpson, was then hit by a missile, either a brick or a metal bar which split the top of his head open resulting in him having to be replaced by back-up John Fallon. Simpson later alleged that it had not been thrown by someone in the crowd but by a photographer on the pitch.

Bertie Auld had been injured in the League Cup final and was replace by Willie O’Neill whilst Chalmers returned in place to John Hughes. For Racing Chabay played instead of Diaz and with centre-half Mori being taken ill Rulli was forced to drop into defence with Mori’s spot being taken by Cardoso. Halfway through the first half Celtic were awarded a penalty which was scored by Tommy Gemmell. They then had what looked to be a perfectly valid goal by Johnstone disallowed before Raffo equalised for Racing after 33 minutes. Cardenas added a second early in the 2nd half and the final score remained 2-1. Despite the win the Racing fans invaded the Scottish dressing room after the final whistle and both inside and outside the stadium Argentineans fought with Uruguayans who had attended the game in order to support Celtic.

As the away-goal rule was not in place at that time (Celtic would have won if it had been) the 2-2 aggregate score meant a third game would be required. It was decided that the location for the deciding play-off, to be played three days later, should be in what was supposedly a neutral venue, the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, Uruguay. Celtic chairman Bob Kelly wanted his team to fly home rather than play the match after what had happened in the first two legs but the rest of the board, and manager Jock Stein, preferred to stay rather than face being labelled cowards. Stein stated “We don’t want to go to Montevideo or anywhere else in South America for a third game. But we know we have to.” After what would become known as “the Battle of Montevideo” he probably wished he hadn’t bothered.

Uruguay and Argentina, as well as being neighbours, had a long football rivalry. The Estadio Centenario was the scene of the first World Cup final in 1930 when Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2. Uruguay had also just beaten Argentina in the final game of the 1967 Copa America at the same stadium which meant they overtook their southern neighbours to win the title by a point. Clubs from each country had also met in the final of the previous four Copa Libertadores with Racing’s win over Nacional a few months previously putting Argentinean clubs ahead 3 to 1 in terms of titles. In doing so they had achieved a goal-less draw at the Estadio Centenario.

Despite this relations between the two countries were good and they shared many economic, cultural and political and military ties with each other. Furthermore, there had been considerable immigration between the two countries since 1960. 30,000 Argentineans travelled the short distance across the River Plate to the Uruguayan capital and many of them paid a visit to Celtic’s hotel, the Victoria Plaza, in the early hours of the morning where their antics kept many of the Scots awake. When the players had first arrived at the hotel they were forced wait around for a number of hours as their rooms were not ready. Prostitutes had also allegedly been sent to the hotel by associates of Racing Club with the intention of soliciting Celtic’s players but after Jock Stein got wind of the plans and briefed his players of the situation the ruse was thwarted.

The rest of the 65,000 crowd in the Estadio Cenetario was made up of Uruguayans and both teams attempted to get the neutrals on their side by walking onto the pitch, which was in very poor condition, with Uruguay flags. Celtic, in their famous green and white hooped jerseys, had bought the biggest flag they could find but were met by almost total silence. They later found out that Racing’s players, in their light blue and white stripes, had carried a flag that was even larger.

Racing’s line-up was unchanged from the second leg whilst for Celtic Auld and Hughes replaced Chalmers and O’Neill. After their treatment in the previous two games Celtic this time decided to sink to Racing’s level and get their retaliations in first. Rodolfo Perez Osorio, from Paraguay, had been appointed referee for the game and was called into action after only four seconds when Racing’s Maschio was fouled immediately after kicking off. Celtic’s John Hughes then took out three opponents with a waist-half tackle before Chabay of Racing delivered a vicious kick to Johnstone’s belly.

Halfway through the first half Osorio called both captains, Oscar Martin of Racing and Billy McNeill of Celtic, together and told them any further fouls would be punished with him sending players off. His threats didn’t work and Osorio was soon out of his depth at the violence that played out in front of him with Celtic’s players certainly playing their part in the hostilities, although most of it was of a retaliatory nature.

After 35 minutes Johnstone was fouled by a viscous late tackle by Rulli which resulted in a five minute long melee involving numerous players from both sides. John Clark approached both Rulli and Alfio Basile with his fists up in the stance of a boxer but, in a case of mistaken identity, Bobby Lennox was sent from the field by Osorio along with Basile leaving both teams with ten men. Jock Stein kept sending Lennox back onto the field as he had had no involvement in the clash but Osorio kept sending him back off until eventually Lennox had to be escorted to the dressing room by one of riot policemen had entered the field of play to try and restore calm.

With only two minutes played in the second half Johnstone, one of the few players who was still showing some real skill in the match, became the 2nd Celtic man to be dismissed. After passing the ball to Wallace he was about to receive the return pass when he was taken out by Oscar Martin, who threw himself at Johnstone’s waist. Both players fell to the ground and as the struggled to get back up Martin suddenly started rolling about as if he had received a blow. Osorio immediately sent the Celtic winger from the pitch despite Johnstone insisting he hadn’t touched his opponent.

Racing now started to take real advantage of their numerical advantage and Rulli, freed of his previous role as Johnstone’s marker, became more and more influential in midfielder. In the 56th minute Cardenas, nicknamed “El Chango” (Spanish slang for “monkey” which was a common nickname for someone from the north or Argentina), sped past Hughes and Gemmell and put Racing ahead with a superb left-footed missile of a shot into Fallon’s top corner. After a moment of stunned silence the section of the crowd from the southern side of the River Plate burst into joyous celebrations whilst those from the northern side bombarded the pitch with a multitude of objects.

Celtic still hadn’t given up however and just a minute later Wallace had a great chance to equalise but Racing’s defence held firm. Cardena then could have sealed the game with his second goal but, after being set up by Raffo’s brilliant pass, he fell over and missed the chance when it looked easier to score. With a quarter of a hour left the time-wasting antics employed by Racing’s keeper Cejas became too much for John Hughes to bear and after punching Cejas in the stomach he then stamped on his foot resulting in the keeper falling to the ground. He followed up by kicking out at Cejas and the referee had no choice but to let Hughes join his two other team-mates in the dressing room.

He was soon followed by Rulli, Racing’s second dismissal, for what looked to be a fairly innocuous foul compared to those that had gone before. Tommy Gemmell somehow escaped punishment after kicking Rulli in the nether region but Bertie Auld didn’t, and became the sixth player to be sent off just before the final whistle. However, after Osorio told him to leave the field Auld simply ignored the referee and refused to leave the playing area. Osorio, who had now completely lost the plot, allowed him to remain for the full 90 minutes and later said he had allowed Auld to stay “to avoid any further trouble”. The final foul count was 30 against Celtic and 21 against Racing.

The Uruguayans in the crowd had initially been either neutral or had sided with Racing, due to shared South American loyalties against the Europeans. However, Celtic’s treatment in the first half led to more and more of them transferring their support to the Scottish team and this continued in the second half until by the end of the match they were showing outright hostility towards the team from Argentina. At the end of the game Racing attempted a lap of honour but were bombarded by the Uruguayan fans whose allegiance was now entirely with Celtic.

In the tunnel Racing’s defender Perfumo was approached Celtic’s captain Billy McNeill, and fearing some kind of retribution from the big, blond defender after what had gone on previously put himself on his guard. Instead McNeill extended his hand towards Perfumo with no sense of malice. Surprised Perfumo grabbed McNeill’s hand tightly then they exchanged shirts. Perfumo admitted that McNeill’s humility brought tears to his eyes as he thought of the hurt the Scot must have been suffering at that moment. Before departing McNeill smiled and wished Perfumo “good luck” in Spanish.

The Argentinean press criticised Racing’s tactics whilst giving very little condemnation to Celtic, admitting that they had little choice but to play as they did in Montevideo. One newspaper, Clarin, said Racing’s win had been a “bittersweet victory” with another, Cronica, describing the game as “not football, but war.” Every Celtic player who had played in the game were fined £250 with Celtic’s chairman Bob Kelly commenting that “for the reputation of British football the players must suffer for their conduct.” Billy McNeill accepted the fines on behalf of his players despite being innocent of any misdemeanours. On the other hand Racing’s players, who returned home to a hero’s welcome, received bonuses of £2000 plus a new car.

The debacle was also said to have cost Jock Stein a knighthood. He was originally due to receive the honour following Celtic’s European Cup as would happen to Matt Busby after Manchester United’s win the following season. But red tape meant that it wasn’t possible for him to receive the award prior to the events in Montevideo. A letter sent by the Scottish Office to the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson a few years later explained that his name had been removed from the honour’s list after “the unfortunate events in South America”. Stein would be awarded a CBE, one rank below a knighthood, in 1970 after Celtic reached a 2nd European Cup final, despite losing to Dutch club Feyenoord.

The reputation of the Intercontinental Cup, and Argentinean clubs, fell even further over the course of the next three seasons after Estudiantes were involved in scandalous matches against Manchester United, AC Milan and Feyenoord in which the likes of United’s Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton, Milan’s strikers Pierino Prati and Nestor Combin, born in Argentina but capped for France, and Feyenoord’s bespectacled defender Bjorn van Daele received particularly vicious treatment. Eventually European teams began to boycott the competition, especially if clubs from Argentina were involved. In 1980 the format changed from home and away legs to a single match that was played in Tokyo, Japan. In 2005 the Intercontinental Cup was replaced by the current FIFA World Club Cup. It has not been missed.

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Denis Neville

Denis Neville was a defender who played for Fulham between 1932 and 1946. His career at
Fulham was interrupted by the war during which he was active with the British army in
Africa and Italy. After his playing career had ended he began his coaching career with
Danish club Odense and then coached the Danish football team in the 1948 Olympics which
claimed the bronze medal. Next he had spells in Italy with Atlanta and in Belgium with
Berchem Sport before working in India for the English FA.

In 1955 he joined Sparta Rotterdam. Sparta had enjoyed a period of glory in the early 20th
century winning five Dutch titles between 1909 and 1915 under Edgar Chadwick but had
had little success since then. In the time with the club Neville would transform them into
one of the top clubs in the country and win three major trophies.

In his first season with the club Neville led them to the Hoofdklasse A title but Sparta
finished in last place in the four team title play-off. In 1956-57 Sparta finished 8th in the first ever Eredivisie season but dropped to 9th the season after. They did win the Dutch Cup that season though following a 4-3 win over Volendam in the final. In 1958-59 Sparta performed consistently well throughout the season and after the penultimate round of matches were top of the Eredivisie having lost only three games.

Their final fixture was away to Amsterdam side DWS/A in the Olympic Stadium. Ad
Verhoeven put Sparta ahead then Joop Daniëls (top scorer that season with 23 goals) added two more before an own goal by the DWS/A goalkeeper made the final score 4-0 ensuringthat Sparta finished three points ahead of 2nd place Rapid JC. It was their first Dutch title for 44 years.

Sparta’s title meant that they qualified for the 1959-60 European Cup and in the 1st round of that competition they needed an extra game to overcome Swedish club IFK Gothenburg
after two 3-1 results. In the Quarter-finals they were drawn against Scottish champions
Rangers and in the home fixture, despite two goals by Piet de Vries, lost 3-2. In the return
match they came away from Glasgow with a 1-0 win thanks to Tonny van Ede’s goal eight
minutes from the end. As there was no away-goals rule then an extra game was needed to
decide the tie and this was played two weeks later at Highbury, home of Arsenal.

Sparta took a sixth minute lead through Verhoeven but the same player then put through his own net and Rangers added two more goals (including another own goal) in the second half. Tinus Bosselaar pulled a goal back with fourteen minutes left but Sparta couldn’t find an equaliser and went out of the competition.

In the Eredivisie Sparta were very disappointing and could not find anything close to their
previous season’s form, subsequently ending up in 7th place sixteen points behind 1st place
Ajax. They improved in 1960-61, finishing 4th, but were still well behind city rivals
Feyenoord, who took the title. In 1961-62 they slipped to 9th place but added a second Dutch Cup to their trophy cabinet thanks to a 1-0 win over 1st Division DHC after an extra-time goal by Piet van Miert. They also reached the Quarter-finals of the Intertoto Cup where they were thrashed 6-1 by Czech club Slovan Bratislava.

In Neville’s final season with Sparta they claimed 3rd place, only three points behind
champions PSV. Neville then decided to leave the club and move to 1st Division SHS. He
was replaced by the Scot Bill Thompson. Sparta would go on to win the Dutch Cup for the
third time in 1966 but after Neville left they never again reached the heights they had during his time in charge.

At SHS Neville did well in his first season with the club just missing out on promotion to
the Eredivisie by one point. In 1964-65 SHS (now re-named Holland Sport) dropped down
to 13th place. In September he also took the job of Dutch national coach on a temporary
basis until he was replaced by Georg Kessler in November 1965. In the 1965-66 season
Holland Sport again disappointed, finishing 11th, and at the end of the season Neville left the club and returned to England where he had a spell with non-league Canvey Island FC.
In 1978 Neville returned to the Netherlands and managed the 4th Class amateur club TOGB from Berkel en Rodenrijs, a small town just north of Rotterdam. He died in a Rotterdam nursing home in 1995 at the age of 79 and six years later had a stand in Sparta’s Het Kasteel (“The Castle”) ground named after him.

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The Decline, Fall and Rebirth of the Intercontinental Cup.

here had been numerous attempts at organising continental club competions in the past. The Mitropa Cup, which began in 1927, involved clubs from Central and Eastern Europe and would continue, in various formats, up until 1992. The Cup of Nations was a tournament organised by the Swiss club Servette in which the champions, or in a few cases cup holders, of many of the leading European nations (excluding the British nations who were not part of FIFA at that time) participated in a knock-out competition. The final saw Ujpest of Hungary win 3-0 over the Czech side Slavia Prague thanks to a hat-trick from János Köves.

It was actually a South American club competition, the Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones, held in Chile in 1948 that first put the idea of a European wide club competition into the mind of Gabriel Hanot, editor of the French sports magazine L’Equipe. This Championship of Champions had brought together the title winners of seven different South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay) in a round-robin tournament. The winners were Vasco de Gama of Brazil, just ahead of Alfredo di Stefano’s River Plate. Despite the great success of the tournament, with attendences averaging almost 40000 and a revenue of over $9 million, it was only a one-off. Hanot approached UEFA with the idea of a similar tournament involving European clubs and after some persuasion the European Champion Club’s Cup was created, beginning in 1955.

At the 1958 Congress of the South American Football Confedaration (CONMEBOL) in Rio de Janeiro the President of UEFA, Henry Delauney, put forward a proposal for a competition between the top clubs in Europe and South America. But first a competition to decide the top South American side would be required. After numerous discussions between the various Confederation members it was agreed at the following year’s congress in Buenos Aires to create a tournament named after the important figures – Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin, Bernado O’Higgins, Ramon Castilla, etc – who had been involved in the wars of independence against Spain in the early 19th century. And so the Copa Libertadores was born.

The inaugural champions of the Copa Libertadores were Penarol of Uruguay, led by their legendary striker Alberto Spencer of Ecuador, thanks to their 2-1 aggregate win over Club Olimpia of Paraguay in June 1960. Just two weeks later Penarol and Real Madrid, champions of Europe having won every edition of the European Cup since its inception, played out a goal-less draw in the first ever Intercontinental Cup match in Montevideo. In the return match in Madrid ran riot and were 3-0 up inside eight minutes thanks to a brace from Ferenc Puskas and another from Alfredo di Stefano. The final score was 5-1 to Real who then crowned themselves “World Champions” until FIFA informed them that as only two of the FIFA confederations had taken part they were unable to nominate themselves so.

The following year Penarol were back and this time faced Benfica, who had finally managed to break Real Madrid’s stranglehold on the European Cup. In Lisbon Benfica won by the only goal but back in Uruguay Penarol thrashed the Portugese 5-0 with two goals apiece from Spencer and the Peruvian Juan Joya. At that time goal aggregrate scores weren’t used to separate teams and instead a team would receive 2 points for a victory. So a play-off was required, to be played once more at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. Jose Sasia put the home team ahead then  Benfica equalised with a penalty from the 19 year-old Eusebio before Sasia added a second goal just before half-time. With no more goals in the second half Penarol had taken the Intercontinental Cup to South America for the first time.

Benfica also won the European Cup in 1961-62 and would go on to meet the great Brazilian side Santos in Septemer 1962 in two games that had now achieved worldwide attention. Santos won 8-4 on aggregate thanks to five goals by Pele, a performance which he ranked as the best of his career, and would retain the trophy the following year after a 1-0 playoff victory over AC Milan following two 4-2 wins for each team. The increased significance of the competition lead to CONCACAF, the federation for North and Central American countries, expressing their interest to take part but were turned down.

The 1964 edition of the Copa Libertadores was the first one in which a team from all ten CONMEBOL member nations participated, thanks to Venezuela’s debut in the competition. Independiente took the trophy to Argentina for the first time but were beaten by Inter Milan over three games. The same two teams met again in 1965 and once more Inter Milan were victorious after Sandro Mazzola’s brace helping Inter to a 3-0 in Milan following by a goal-less draw in Buenos Aires.

In 1966 runners-up were also allowed into the Copa Libertadores, a decision which resulted in Brazilian clubs, including Pele’s Santos, refusing to take part in protest. Brazil were also unhappy at the increase in violence used by many of the teams from Argentina and Uruguay and this sense of injustice grew even further after the 1966 World Cup in which they received much physical mistreatment from the three European teams they played against and exited after the group stage. Penarol, who had just began a run of 56 league games undefeated,  won the Copa for the 3rd time then beat Real Madrid 2-0 both home and away for their 2nd Copa Intercontinental title, with Alberto Spencer scoring three of the four goals.

The 1966 World Cup had also seen the Argentina national team described as “animals” by England’s manager Alf Ramsey following a tempestuous meeting between the two countries in the quarter-finals in which Argentina’s captain Antonio Rattin was sent off. The following year’s Copa Libertadores again saw Santos, the Brazilian runners-up, refuse to participate and then were joined by Penarol. This made Argentinian champions Racing Club’s path to the title a lot easier than it would otherwise have been. In doing so they would return to Great Britain to face Celtic of Glasgow, who had become the first British club to win the European Cup. In fact Celtic won all five competitions they entered in the 1966-67 season, scoring a world record 196 goals in the process.

The first game, at Hampden Park in front of over 100,000 fans, in October of 1967, was a close affair which was settled by Billy McNeil’s 67th minute header. In the act of scoring McNeil received an elbow to the face which left him with a black eye in the days that followed. Racing’s players conducted similar tactics throughout the match with tripping, elbowing, kicking and even spitting commonplace, even when Celtic didn’t have possession. At half-time Celtic’s winger Jimmy Johnstone returned to the dressing room with his hair soaked with Argentine spit. Celtic manager Jock Stein was forced to enter the field of play to reminstrate with the referee at Johnstone’s treatment, to no avail.

Just prior to the 2nd leg in Buenos Aires Celtic were forced to play in the Scottish League Cup final, where they won 5-3 over Dundee United. The SFA also allowed Jimmy Johnstone, who was serving a 21-day domestic ban, to travel to South America. The few Celtic fans who travelled to the match were urinated upon by Racing Club fans in the upper tier. Celtic’s keeper, Ronnie Simpson, was then hit by a missle, either a brick or a metal bar, thrown from the crowd which split the top of his head open resulting in him having to be replaced by back-up John Fallon.

Halfway through the first half Celtic were awarded a penalty which was scored by Tommy Gemmell. They then had what looked to be a perfectly valid goal by Johnstone disallowed before Raffo equalised for Racing after 33 minutes. Cardenas added a second early in the 2nd half and the final score remained 2-1. Despite the win the Racing fans invaded the Scottish dressing room after the final whistle and both inside and outside the stadium Argentinians fought with Uruguayans who had attended the game in order to support Celtic.

As the away-goal rule was not in place at that time (Celtic would have won if it had been) the 2-2 aggregrate score meant a third game would be required. It was decided that the location for the deciding play-off, to be played three days later, should be in what was supposedly a neutral venue, Montevideo in Uruguay. Celtic chairman Bob Kelly wanted his team to fly home rather than play the match after what had happened in the first two legs but the rest of the board, and manager Jock Stein, preferred to stay rather than face being labelled cowards. Stein stated “We don’t want to go to Montevideo or anywhere else in South America for a third game. But we know we have to.” After what would become known as “the Battle of Montevideo” he probably wished he hadn’t bothered.

30,000 Argentinians travelled the short distance across the River Playe to the Uruguayan capital and many of them paid a visit to Celtic’s hotel in the early hours of the morning where their antics kept many of the Scots awake. The rest of the 65,000 crowd was made up of Uruguayans and both teams attempted to get the neutrals on their side by walking onto the pitch with Uruguay flags. Celtic had bought the biggest flag they could find but were met by almost total silence. They later found out that Racing’s player had carried a flag that was even larger.

Rodolfo Perez Osorio, from Paraguay, had been appointed referee for the game and was called into action after only four seconds when Racing’s Maschio was fouled immediately after kicking off. Celtic’s John Hughes then took out three opponents with a waist-half tackle before Chabay of Racing delivered a vicious kick to Johnstone’s belly. Halfway through the first hald Osorio called both captains together and told them any further fouls would be punished with sendings off. His threats didn’t work and Osorio was soon out of his depth at the violence that played out in front of him with Celtic’s players certainly playing their part in the hostilities, although most of it was of a retaliatory nature.

After 35 minutes Johnstone was fouled by a viscous late tackle by Rulli which resulted in a melee involving numerous players from both sides. John Clark approached both  Rulli and Alfio Basile with his fists up but, in a case of mistaken identity, Bobby Lennox was sent from the field by Osorio along with Basile leaving both teams with ten men. Jock Stein kept sending Lennox back onto the field as he had had no involvement in the clash but Osorio kept sending him back off until eventually Lennox had to be escorted to the dressing room by a riot policeman.

With only two minutes played in the second half Johnstone became the 2nd Celtic played to be dismissed following an apparent elbowing of his marker. In the 56th minute Cardenas put Racing ahead with a superb left-footed shot into Fallon’s top left corner. John Hughes was then sent off with 15 minutes to play after two kicks on Racing’s keeper Cejas and he was soon followed by Rulli. Tommy Gemmell somehow escaped punishment after kicking an opponent up the backside but Bertie Auld didn’t, and became the sixth player to be sent off just before the final whistle. However, Auld refused to leave the playing area and Osorio, who had now completely lost the plot, allowed him to remain for the full 90 minutes.

At the end of the game Racing attempted a lap of honour but were bombarded by the Uruguayan fans whose allegiance was now entirely with Celtic. The four dismissed Celtic players were fined £250 whilst Racing’s players received bonuses of £2000 plus a new car. The debacle was also said to have cost Jock Stein a knighthood. He was originally due to receive the honour following Celtic’s European Cup win but a letter sent by the Scottish Office to the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson a few years later explained that his name had been removed from the honour’s list after “the unfortunate events in South America”.

1968 saw an Argentina v Great Britian rematch with Estudiantes and Manchester United winning their respective continental trophies. Estudiantes, from the city of La Plata which was around 50km from Buenos Aires, had been transformed from a lower table team into one that would win three consecutive Copa Liberatadores trophies in the late 1960s. Their coach Osvaldo Zubeldia promoted many of the talented U19 squad that had gained the nickname “The Killer Juveniles” into a team that became the first outside of the traditional “big five” club in Argentina to win a national title. Zubeldia’s style of play, although very successful, gained the epithet “anti-football” by his critics due to its reliance on time-wasting and the physical violence used by many of his players. Manchester United had recovered from the Munich disaster ten years previously to win England’s first European Cup with a team featuring 1966 World Cup winners Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles, who had both played in the controversial game against Argentina, along with superstars Denis Law and George Best.

United were very popular in South America and received a warm welcome in Argentina for the first leg, although Estudiantes’s decision not to attend an official reception in honour of the English team did not go down to well with their manager, the recently knighted Sir Matt Busby. Prior to the game Stiles also received much adverse publicity in the local press where he was described as “an assassin” and “brutal”. As trouble was expected over 2000 police attended the game, played in Boca Junior’s La Bombonera stadium, along with just over 25,000 fans. But most of the violence came from the home players, not from those watching.

No doubt as a result of his press coverage Stiles, in particular, came in for much attention from Estudiante’s players, especially from their tough midfielder Carlos Bilardo. A number of kicks, punches, spits and headbutts rained in on the little midfielder who, for the most part, simply ignored the treatment despite suffering from double vision as a result of Bilardo’s violence. Law and Charlton were also major targets for the the Argentinians with the former having his hair pulled and receiving pinches whilst the latter suffered a head wound that would require stitches. Marcos Conigliaro scored the only goal of the game halfway through the first half. Eleven minutes from the end Stiles was sent off, not for retaliation but for dissent after flinging his arm in the air in disgust after being flagged offside.

For the second leg at Old Trafford, in front of over 60,000 fans, Stiles was suspended following his sending off in the first game. Estudiantes then stunned the home crowd by taking the lead through Veron after only seven minutes. This went that United would need to score three times to win the tie, or twice to take it to a playoff in Amsterdam. Although the amount of violence was somewhat reduced from that used in Buenos Aires there were still numerous incidents throughout the match. Brian Kidd was stamped upon whilst on the ground while Denis Law needed four stitches following clash with opposing keeper Poletti.

In the 88th minute George Best punched Jose Medina in the face then pushed Nestor Tognari to the ground resulting in the mercurial Irishman being sent off, along with Medina who was pelted with coins as he left the pitch. A minute later Willie Morgan equalised for United but it was too late and at the final whistle Estudiantes celebrated their victory. United’s keeper Alex Stepney punched one of the celebranting players whilst the Old Trafford crowd threw various objects at that resulting in the celebrations being cut short.

In 1969 Estudiantes were up against AC Milan and the reputation of the Intercontinental Cup, already suffering after the previous two editons, would sink even further following a number of scandalous events. In the first leg Milan won easily 3-0 in the San Siro with two goals from Sormani and one from Combin in a game that passed largely without incident. Things were much different back in Buenos Aires however. As they were warming up the Milan players were pelted with footballs by the home team and they then had hot coffee poured onto them as they emerged from the tunnel for the kick-off.

The violence continued throughout the game with the Chilean referee Domingo Massaro turning a blind eye to it. It was even alleged that Milan’s players were pricked with needles. Milan striker Prati, who had scored a hat-trick in their 4-1 win over Ajax in the European Cup final, was knocked out in one heavy clash after quarter of an hour but, despite suffering concussion and amnesia, played on for another 20 minutes before being replaced by Giorgio Rognoni. By that time Milan had added to their first leg lead with a goal from Gianni Riveri, who had earlier been punched by Estudiantes keeper Poletti, after half an hour which meant the tie was effectively over. Conigliaro and Aguirre Sanchez scored two goals in a minute just before half-time but the home team were unable to score the extra two that would have resulted in a play-off.

Nestor Combin, Milan’s other striker, had been born in Argentina before deciding to play for France and was particularly targetted by his former countrymen. He was kicked by Poletti before having his nose broken by Ramon Sanchez’s elbow. Despite being covered in blood Combin was refused permission to leave the pitch by Massaro but eventually fainted and had to be removed on a stretcher. Unbelievably, at this point he was arrested by the local police on a charge of draft dodging as he hadn’t partaken in the military service that was compulsory in Argentina. After spending the night in a cell he was released the next day after explaining that he had fulfilled his military duty as a French citizen.

Afterwards the contrite local press conceded that Alf Ramsey may well have had a point when he had referred to the Argentinian players as “animals” in 1966. The president, Juan Carlos Ongania demanded that those involved should be punished and subsequently the Argentinian FA banned Poletti from football for life whilst banning Suarez for 30 games and Eduardo Manero for 20. All three were also jailed for a month and Suarez and Manero received five year and three year international bans respectively.

These three players would therefore miss the 1970 International Cup fixtures against Dutch club Feyenoord. After a 2-2 draw in Argentina Feyenoord won the trophy thanks to substitute Bjorn van Daele’s second-half goal in Rotterdam. At the final whistle the celebrating van Daele had his glasses ripped from his face and stamped upon by Estudiantes defender Oscar Malbernat. Malbernat later claimed that he did so as he considered glasses to be a danger and that the wearing of them had been banned in South American football for that very reason.

In 1971 Ajax refused to face Uruguayan club Nacional, who had broken Estudiantes’ grip on the Copa Libertadores, due to fears over their violent style of play and so runners-up Panathinaikos of Greece took part instead. Ajax did agree to play in the 1972 edition, however, against Independiente but probably wished they hadn’t bothered. Prior to the game in Buenos Aires Ajax’s star player Johan Cruyff received death threats from the home fans and after scoring in the 5th minute was tackled so viscously by Mircoli that he was unable to continue. At half-time the Dutch team wanted to abandon the game due to the abuse they had received during the first-half but were persuaded to continue by their coach Stefan Kovacs.

After winning their third consecutive European Cup Ajax again refused to take part in 1973 and runners-up Juventus also initially turned down the request to replace them before finally agreeing to do so after lengthy negotiations. Even so, only one game was played with Independiente winning 1-0 in Rome’s Stadio Olympico.

The European club’s reluctance to participate in the competition increased during the remainder of the 1970s, particularly if Argentinian club’s were involved. They felt the poor financial rewards and spectactor disinterest in the Intercontinental Cup made the trips to South America not worthwhile, especially as they were also likely to suffer physically in doing so. Bayern Munich, like Ajax, also won a hat-trick of European Cups in the mid 1970s but only played in the 1976 edition of the Intercontinental Cup when Brazilian club Cruzerio qualified. In 1974 European Cup runners-up Athletico Madrid took part, and won, whilst in 1975 no matches took place, ostensibly because of scheduling problems for Bayern.

Liverpool won the European Cup in both 1977 and 1978 and would have faced Boca Juniors both times but also refused to take part with Borussia Moenchengladbach replacing them in 1977 and the contest being cancelled the following year as Boca refused to play against Belgian side Club Brugge. The status of the competition was now extremely lowly and only 5000 fans turned up to watch Malmo (beaten by Nottingham Forest in the European Cup) play a terrible game against Olimpia of Paraguay in 1979.

The writing now now on the wall and in 1980 the format of the Copa Intercontinental was finally changed. Japanese motoring giants Toyota decided to sponsor the competition and it was agreed that rather than home and away ties one single game, to be played in Tokyo, should decide the winner of the trophy. Teams were now legally obliged to take part and the competition achieved some sort of rebirth during the 24 years it was played in Japan before playing replaced by the FIFA World Club Cup in 2005 which featured champions, and runners-up, from all FIFA’s confederations.


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The 1964 Estadio Nacional Tragedy

Throughout the global history of football there have been a number of tragic stadium disasters that have resulted in the death of many supporters who attended a game of the team they loved and never returned. The terrible events of Hillsborough in 1989, Heysel in 1985 and Ibrox in 1971 are well-known but in 1964 the worst ever football disaster took place in the Estadio Nacional stadium in Lima, Peru. At least 328 people died in the disaster with over 500, some reports claim up to 4000, being injured.

As part of the qualifiers for the 1964 Olympic football tournament in Tokyo seven South American teams (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay) took part in a round-robin competition held in May of that year in Lima. As the Olympics only allowed young, amateur footballers to compete at that time it was difficult to assess the strengths of the participating teams but as usual Argentina and Brazil were expected to do well whilst Peru had taken part in the previous Olympic football tournament in Rome and there were high hopes that home advantage would help them qualify once more.

By 24th May the tournament was well under way and when the hosts Peru met Argentina a fine match was expected. Argentina had won their four previous games to lead the table whilst second placed Peru had won two and drawn one and looked to have a good chance at finishing in the top three and claiming at least a playoff spot. Around 50,000 spectators had packed into the Estadio Nacional for mid-afternoon kickoff. Many of them had also attended the “Las Seis Horas Peruana” motor-race at the nearby Campo de Marte park earlier that day.

The Peruvian team was made up mainly of amateurs from clubs in the Lima region and contained nine debutants with the other two players having made their debuts in Peru’s previous game, the 2-0 win over Uruguay. After a goal-less first half Argentina took the lead in the 60th minute thanks to Nestor Manfredi. With six minutes to go it appeared that Peru had equalised through Victor “Kilo” Lobaton after he had raised his foot to block defender Andrés Bertolotti’s clearance. But to the amazement of the partisan crowd the Uruguayan referee, Angel Eduardo Pazos, disallowed the goal as he claimed that Lobaton had fouled his opponent.

Frustration soon turned to fury and one fan Victor Vasquez, a violent local gangster known as “El Negro Bomba” (“The Black Bomb”), climbed over the wire-meshed fence and ran onto the pitch to confront Pazos to widespread applause from the other spectators. He was soon joined by another fan, German Arroyo Cuenca, and then by many more. In retaliation the National Police Force of Peru severely assaulted the invaders with truncheons and set their dogs upon them. Somehow Vasquez managed to escape but Cuenca was carried off the field by a number of policemen who held him by the hands and feet.

The players of both teams quickly made their way into the tunnel with the atmosphere within the stadium quickly became even more inflamed as the spectators witnessed the violence being played out upon the pitch. Incensed fans tore down the fences and flooded onto the grass firing bricks and bottles at the police whilst elsewhere in the stadium small fires broke out. Jorge de Azambuja, the police commissioner, gave the order for tear gas canisters to be fired into the crowd. He said later “’I ordered throwing tear gas into the stands. I can not say how many. I never imagined the dire consequences.”

Panic now set in amongst the spectators and hundreds attempted to flee from the stadium to escape the clouds of tear gas which burnt their eyes, nose and lungs. Most of these had been in the North Stand of the stadium which had received the most canisters of tear gas.

Unfortunately the police had ordered the doors to be locked to prevent people leaving the stadium, in the hope that eventually they would calm down and return to their seats. As more and more people piled into the tunnels beneath the stands it proved impossible for those only there to escape and soon bodies started to pile up at the locked exits as people succumbed to internal bleeding and asphyxiation. Ironically it was those who chose to remain in the open stadium that were saved.

The Peruvian players had left the stadium without knowing the full extent of what had happened and returned to their training facility. As they listened to news reports on the radio throughout the rest of the day the death-toll continued to rise and rise until it eventually reached 328.

Other fans who had managed to escape from other parts of the ground run amok through Lima in a furious rampage. Shops were looted, cars were overturned and many local businesses and homes were vandalised. Two policemen were murdered by fans who held the police responsible for the disaster while several police cars were attacked, injuring their occupants. It was only at 8:30 in the evening that the trouble finally subsided.

In the aftermath the stadium was closed for 60 days whilst changes to its design were carried out. As a result the capacity was reduced from 53,000 to 45,000. The president of Peru declared a state of emergency that lasted a month and also ordered that there should be seven days of mourning for the victims.

The investigation into the disaster was led by the judge Benjamin Castañeda. His report, alleged that the actual death toll was much higher than the official figure of 328 and that many more had been killed by gunfire by the police in an attempt to control the crowd than by asphyxiation. He speculated further that the bodies of these extra victims had been buried in a mass grave located in Callao but no proof of this has ever been found. Castañeda also claimed the events were the result of a “sinister conspiracy” and accused the interior minister, Juan Languasco, of engineering the tragedy in order to “subjugate the people” in retaliation for the growing public unrest within the county. Castañeda was later fined for submitting his report six months too late and also for failing to attend any of the 328 autopsies as he was supposed to have done. The findings of report were also thrown out. No proof of the conspiracy has ever been uncovered and Languasco never faced any charges

Victor Vasquez, “El Negro Bomba”, was arrested two days later and spent many years in the notorious El Fronton prison, located upon an island just off the coast of the neighbouring city of Callao. Eight years later Commander Azambuja, who retired from the police force shortly after the disaster, received a 30 month jail sentence for his part in the tragic events. Angel Eduardo Pazos, who disallowed the goal which sparked the initial pitch invasion, continued to be a FIFA referee until 1975 and then referred for three more years in the Uruguayan league until his retirement in 1978.

From the Peruvian debutants who took part in the game five of them never played for the Peruvian national team again after that day. Among the others was Hector Chumpitaz, one of Peru’s greatest ever players who would go on to win over 100 caps for Peru and captain them during the 1970 and 1978 World Cups as well as during the victorious 1975 Copa America tournament. Guillermo La Rosa would also go on to have a long international career playing in both the 1978 and the 1982 World Cup. Of the Argentineans only Roberto Perfumo went on to future stardom playing in both the 1966 and 1974 World Cup finals with Argentina.

Despite the match being abandoned in the 85th minute the result stood. The remaining five matches in the South American qualifiers were cancelled so Argentina was the group winner with five wins out of five and qualified directly for Tokyo. To decide the second qualifier a play-off was arranged on 7th June in Rio de Janeiro between 3rd place Peru and 2nd place Brazil. A demoralised Peruvian team, still in mourning, had no real desire to participate in the match and were easily beaten 4-0. They have never competed in the Olympic football tournament since.

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The Story of the 1930 World Cup

When FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was formed in 1904 it’s membership was comprised of only seven teams, all from Europe. Over the next 20 years more and more national sides joined FIFA and the 1924 Olympic football tournament was the first one to involve non-European teams with Uruguay, the United States, Turkey and Egypt all taking part. Uruguay won the gold medal and would go on to retain it four years later.

But the Olympic football tournament, organized by FIFA starting with the 1920 edition, was only open to amateurs which meant many of the world’s best players were unable to take part. Therefore in 1926 FIFA – led by their president Jules Rimet and the secretary of the French Football Association, Henri Delauny – decided to create their own tournament which would be open to all players, amateur and professional. After two years of deliberations FIFA announced that the new tournament, the World Cup, would begin in 1930 and take place every four years.

Five countries – the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay – put themselves forward as hosts of the tournament. Both the Netherlands and Sweden then decided to withdraw themselves from the race and instead decided to offer their support to Italy. However, Jules Rimet’s preference was Uruguay as not only would this give his new tournament a more global flavour it would mean that the host country was probably the strongest national side in the world at that time, thanks to their gold medals from 1924 and 1928, albeit with a team of amateurs. Despite this success it was still a rather surprising choice of host with Uruguay having a population of only 2 million and due to a shortage of suitable stadiums all the games would have to be played in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

The first World Cup in 1930 was the only one for which there was no qualification. Instead of a qualifying tournament all FIFA members were invited to take part with a deadline of 28th February 1930. At that time FIFA consisted of 41 members made up of 25 from Europe (but not including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who had withdrawn from FIFA in 1928 following a dispute over payments to amateur players, they wouldn’t return until 1946), one team from Africa (Egypt), two from Asia (Japan and Siam – modern day Thailand), six from North and Central America and seven from South America.

Many of the teams from the Americas showed interest in participating in the tournament but in the end only eight (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and the United States) actually applied. The sole African FIFA member, Egypt, also decided to enter. The four beaten applicants for hosting the tournament plus Hungary refused to enter as a protest against the decision to award it to Uruguay. Other countries such as Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Switzerland were put off by the exhaustive three-week sea voyage needed to reach Uruguay, as well as the fact that the players involved would have to be away for up to three months in total, despite the Uruguayan FA offering to pay all travelling expenses.

They even approached the Football Association to ask them to take part despite the fact that England was not a member of FIFA at the time but the request was quickly dismissed. A number of other countries such as Belgium, France, Yugoslavia and Romania were as yet undecided. By the time the entry deadline of had been reached no team from Europe had decided to enter the tournament. The South America representatives threatened to withdraw from FIFA in protest at the reluctance of the Europeans to take part, which they considered to be an insult. Something needed to be done, and quickly.

Jules Rimet, the president of FIFA, whose imitative initially led to the creation of the World Cup tournament finally managed to persuade his home country of France to enter although their coach, Gaston Barreau (he was replaced by Raoul Caudron), and their best defender, Manuel Anatol, chose to stay at home. FIFA’s vice-president, Rodolphe Seeldrayers of Belgium, also convinced his own country to take part. Their best player Raymond Braine, who had scored 141 in 142 games for Beerschot in his eight years with the club, was banned from the tournament after opening a café in order to supplement his income which, as Belgian clubs were only amateur at that time, only included unofficial payments based on performance. The Belgian FA then decided that players who carried out such a practice would be banned from the national team.

In Romania King Carol II only took possession of the royal throne one month before the tournament started. One of his first acts as king was to grant an amnesty to all Romanian players who had been suspended from football for whatever reason. He also persuaded the companies, including an English oil company, for which many of his best players worked to give their employees paid leave to take part in the World Cup by threatening to close them down if they refused. He then chose the Romanian squad himself. Carol also had a hand in persuading Yugoslavia to enter although their team was made up only of young Serbians as the Croatian players refused to play for the national team.

The Romanian squad set sail from Genoa on 21st June aboard the Italian steamboat Conte Verde. The ship would then stop in the Cote D’Azur to pick up the French team, the FIFA president Rimet, the trophy named after him and the three other non South American referees (the final one being the Romanian head coach Costel Rădulescu). In Barcelona there was another stop to collect the Belgians. After crossing the Atlantic the Brazilians came aboard in Rio de Janeiro. The Conte Verde finally reached Montevideo on 4th July, just over two weeks after setting off.

By the time the Yugoslavians had decided to take part in the World Cup the Conte Verde was fully booked and so they had to look for an alternative mode of travel. After a three-day train journey to Marseille they set sail on the mail steamship the Florida. They were supposed to be joined onboard by the Egyptian team but their boat from Africa was slowed down due to a storm in the Mediterranean Sea and they missed their connection. This meant that the tournament would go ahead with only 13 teams.

The first ever World Cup game was played between France and Mexico on July 13th, 1930 at the tiny Estadio Pocitos stadium. The stadium, which was owned by the reigning Uruguayan champions Penarol, had a capacity of only 1000 and it was a crowd of this size who saw the 22 year-old French forward, Laucien Laurent of FC Sochax, score the first ever World Cup goal after 19 minutes to help France to a 4-1 win in Group 1.

But it would be Argentina who would go on to win Group 1, made up of four participants (Chile being the other team involved), thanks to three wins out of three. The other three groups contained only three teams. Yugoslavia, whose complicated trip to the tournament obviously did not hinder them too much, won Group 2 thanks to victories over Brazil and Bolivia. Uruguay came out on top of Peru and Romania in Group 3 whilst the United States triumphed over Paraguay and Belgium in Group 4.

In the United States 3-0 win over Paraguay confusion over the identity of the scorer of the American’s 2nd goals meant that, for 76 years it was thought that the first ever World Cup hat-trick had been scored by Guillermo Stábile of Argentina in their 6-3 win over Mexico two days previously. It was only in 2006 that the 2nd US goal was finally credited to Bert Patenaude, who had scored their other two goals against Paraguay thus giving his the credit of the first hat-trick instead.

Yugoslavia, the only European team left in the competition, were thrashed 6-1 by the hosts with Pedro Cea scoring a hat-trick Amazingly the score-line was repeated in the other semi-final with Argentina triumphing over the hapless United States. After being 2-1 down to their South American neighbours at half-time Uruguay scored three second-half goals to make the final score to add the first ever Jules Rimet trophy to their two Olympic gold medals. Stábile’s 37th minute goal gave him eight in total for the tournament, three more than Pedro Cea of Uruguay.


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