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.






About Jeff Lawrence

Hi, My name is Jeff Lawrence and I'm a writer, photographer and Boro fan from north-east England who has an interest in football history, in particular that relating to Dutch (thanks to eight years living in the Netherlands) and Peruvian (thanks to a wife from Peru) football. Another interest is how English managers and players played their part in the development of football overseas, particularly in the early part of the 20th century.
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1 Response to What’s in a name – The Netherlands

  1. Pingback: What’s in a name – The Netherlands - Sports Interrupted

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