The Dutch, as we know, are a sensible folk. But not when it comes to naming their football clubs. In most countries football clubs have really boring names like Manchester United, Barcelona or Paris Saint Germain. But we have NAC, Go Ahead Eagles and the mighty ZSGOWMS.
To be truely ingeburgerd in the Netherlands, you need to know the meaning of at least some of them.
Lesson 46: 11 football clubs with weird names
Breda’s premier division football club NAC was set up in 1912 as a merger between NOAD (translated, the letters stand for ‘Never Give Up Always Keep Going’) and ADVENDO (‘Pleasure Through Enjoyment and Usefulness Through Relaxation’). The resulting name was Noad Advendo Combinatie or NAC. Unless you want to write it all out in full – and then you probably have the world’s longest football club name.
Nijmegen football club NEC was founded in 1900 and claims to be the first in Holland to be set up by workers. Its name comes from Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie which translates to the very boring Nijmegen united combination.
Set up in 1896, the Tilburg premier league club Willem II is one of the oldest football clubs in the Netherlands. It was originally called Tilburgia but was renamed Willem II some 18 months later after the Dutch king of 1840-49 who was a local hero. The club has won the national title three times (1916, 1952, 1955). The team’s nickname is tricolores because of its official red, white and blue striped shirts.
Go Ahead Eagles
Deventer side Go Ahead Eagles have possibly the most romantic name in Dutch football – if you are not into superheroes like Ajax of course. The club was founded in 1902 as Be Quick but the name was soon changed to Go Ahead at the request of the Dutch Football Association. The suffix Eagles was added in 1971, following a suggestion from their then coach, Barry Hughes. The eagle part comes from Deventer’s coat of arms.
You need your wits about you to understand this one. PEC was founded on June 12 1910 following the merger of two other local clubs – Prins Hendrik and Ende Desespereert Nimmer (And Never Despair). The PH EDN Combinatie became PEC and added Zwolle in 1971. In 1982 it added ’82 to the name, only to drop the PEC and the ’82 in 1990 when it went bankrupt. The club was relaunched as FC Zwolle and continued on its merry way until 2012 when it won the first division championship and went back up the premier division. Cue a change of name again – the club once again became PEC Zwolle and won both the Dutch KNVB Cup and the Johan Cruijff super cup in 2014.
What company dominated the southern city for years? Philips. So much so that it also gave its name to the local football club, or Philips Sport Vereniging, now known as PSV. The club was founded in 1913 as a team for Philips employees who went on to play on the Philips Sportpark, where the current Philips stadium is still located. The stadium is located in what as known as Philipsdorp – a neighborhood set up in 1910 by Anton Philips to provide accommodation to employees.
ADO Den Haag
ADO (Alles Door Oefening or everything through practice) is the main football club in The Hague. ADO has never matched the successes of the other big city clubs Ajax (Amsterdam) and Feyenoord (Rotterdam), although it did win the national title in 1942 and 1943, as well as the league cup in 1968 and 1975. In 2008, the club was bailed out of financial difficulties by the local city council and opened its new 15,000-seat stadium.
Alkmaar football club AZ was formed in 1967 when the professional clubs Alkmaar ’54 and FC Zaanstreek merged to create AZ ’67 (the ’67 was dropped in 1986). The club’s heyday was in the late 1970s and early 1980s but it was relegated to the first division in 1988. It is now, however a fixture at the top of the Eredivisie.
Roda JC is based in Kerkrade in Limburg and was formed in 1962 following the merger of Rapid JC and Roda Sport. Rapid JC, yes, you’ve guessed it, was formed through the merger of Rapid ’54 and Juliana. Roda Sport took its name when clubs SV Kerkrade and SV Bleijerheide merged – but we’re not really sure where the Roda bit comes from.
The club can trace its history back to the end of the 19th century when it was named De Gouden Leeuw – or golden lion. Several name permutations later it became VVV which stands for Venlose Voetbal Vereniging or “Venlo football club” – and is far less romantic. For some reason Venlo got tacked on again at the end – just to make sure you got the message.
An amateur side in Amsterdam, the club’s name is the abbreviation of Zonder Samenspel Geen Overwinning en Wilskracht Maakt Sterk – Without Teamwork No Victory and Determination Creates Strength. The club was formed in 1996 following the merger of ZSGO and WMS, both of which date back to 1919. The club did not change its name to something more manageable because, according to the website, it can be easily found on internet and is a good advert. But what on earth do the supporters chant?
And in case you wondered about Ajax, there is no mystery there at all. The club, founded in 1900, was indeed named after the mythological Greek hero.
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