The Dutch First Division played a strange season: on one hand, it was the familiar high-scoring kind of football, typical for this country. On the other hand, the usual favourites were not really a big factor this year, dominated entirely by one club. At the bottom – nothing surprising. Two outsiders, more or less expected. FC Wageningen finished last.
Wageningen was not expected to last in the top league and they did not. Well, they had their short rub with the best and were going back to their familiar second division football. Note the big W on their shirts: it is just the first letter of the club’s name – shirt advertisement was not yet permitted. It will be in the next season.
SBV Excelsior (Rotterdam) finished 17th – like Wageningen, they finished with 21 points, but better goal-difference placed them a place above last. No comfort in that – they joined Wageningen in relegation. Both teams were clearly not up to the challenge this year – to the joy of other smaller clubs, which had not to fret about second division.
Up the table – nothing immediately interesting. FC Groningen finished 15th with 25 points, but better goal-difference than NEC Nijmegen.
Top row, from left: Sip Bloemberg – Theo Keukens – Jouke Faber – Jack van Loon – Dick Bults – Karel Hiddink – Walter Waalderbos – Dick Ploeger
Middle row: Wubbo de Boer (elftalleider) – Renze de Vries (voorzitter) – Azing Griever – Eddy Bakker – Henk Veldmate – Peter Houtman – Leen Swanenburg – Herman Dijkstra – Hans Boer – Theo Verlangen (trainer) – John Visser (verzorger)
Sitting: Anne Mulder – Jan Brouwer – Ronald Koeman – Bert Hendriks – Bert Wiebing – Ludwig Timisela – Jan van Dijk.
Nothing spectacular, as usual, but there were at least two youngsters eventually becoming well known – Peter Houtman and Ronald Koeman. The next great generation of Dutch football was coming, but it was still too young for immediate impact.
FC Den Haag was 14th with 27 points. No future great names here – the club relied on Aad Mansveld. Den Haag distinguished itself this season with the worst defensive record in the league, allowing 79 goals.
NAC Breda was 13th with also with 27 points, but ahead of Den Haag on goal-difference. Standing: Jansen (trainer/coach), Wanny van Gils, Jack Beusenberg, Tom Dekker, Bertus Quaars, Tom Smits, Anton Joore, Hans Heeren, Geert van de Wiel (verzorger).
Sitting: Ton van Eenenaam, Edu de Schepper, Ton Sprangers, Martien Vreijsen, Ton Lokhoff, Hans Neeskens, Ad Krijnen, Mathé van Kelle.
Roda JC ended 11th with 28 points, ahead of Go Ahead Eagles on better goal-difference.
Third row from left: Leo Degens, Peter de Wit, Dick Nanninga, Joop Dacier, G.Tsinos, John Meuser, John Eriksen.
Mmiddle row: Ton Marijt, Leo Ehlen, Allan Nielsen, Willy Smeets, Jan Jongbloed, Frank Ramakers, Roger Raeven, Kees Bregman, Piet de Visser (trainer)
Sitting: Ronald Hendriks, René Hofman, Eugène Marijnissen, Michel Mommertz, J. v/d Kinderen, Theo de Jong, Eugène Hanssen, Wim Meijers.
Slightly better squads when one climbs up the table: Dick Nanninga, Theo de Jong, the Danish international Allan Nielsen, and, of course, Jan Jongblood between the goalposts.
Familiar teams in the lower half of the table, nothing special and far away from any great things. There was sharp gap between those clubs and the better ones: MVV Maastricht, 8th, was 4 points ahead of those bellow. And Maastricht was nothing special.
Sparta (Rotterdam) was nothing special too, but they had good year and finished 7th with 36 points. Which was not close to the top 6 teams – Twente ended 6th with 39 points.
Standing: dhr. Hollink (trainer), Tjalling dilling, John Scheve, Niels Overweg, Eddy Pasveer, Andre van Gerven, Theo Snelders, Ab Gritten, Bert Strijdveen, Heinz Otto, masseur Jan Steeneeke.
Sitting: Manuel Sanchez Torres, Ferdi Rhode, Romeo Zondervan, Soeren Lingsted, Hallvar Thoresen, Fred Rutten, Aad Kila, Martin Jol, Jaap Bos, Evert Bleuning.
Gone were the days when Twente was expected to become really strong team – by now, it was mostly keeping a position in the upper half of the league. Niels Overweg was almost the only player left from the exciting squad of mid-1970s and only two players eventually became well known – Theo Snelders and Martin Jol. Jol was coming close to moving first to West Germany and after that – to England. Add the Norwegian national team regular Hallvar Thoresen.
Twente was left 5 points behind by PSV Eindhoven, which itself was no longer in great shape.
Third row: W. v.d. Kerkhof, J. Poortvliet, Q.v.d. Meulen, H. Stevens, E. Brands, P. Wildschot.
Middle row: verzorger J.v.d. Ven, W. Scheepers, W. Jansen, P. Doesburg, A. Koster, 2de trainer J. Rekers en trainer J. Libregts.
Sitting: N. Valke, P. Posthuma, T. Smolders, E. Koeman, T. Christensen, R.v.d. Kerkhof en W.v.d. Kuylen.
The squad was dangerously aging – the van de Kerkhof twins, Jansen, van der Kuylen, Doesburg were getting too old and the next generation – Huub Stevens, Ernie Brandts, Poortvliet, and Wildschot – never became great stars. Erwin Koeman did not even make his reputation with PSV Eindhoven. Perhaps the most interesting figure is not on the picture:
The South Korean midfielder Huh Jung-moo arrived this summer (the photo of his tackling Johan Cruijff is from the next season) after finishing his military service playing for Navy SC. The 25-years old never became internationally famous like his compatriot Cha Bum-kun, but he played 3 years for PSV Eindhoven, 12 years for the national team of South Korea (1974-86 – a total of 84 games, in which he scored 29 goals). The Asian were slowly rising, Huh was the third high-profile Asian player in Europe and his importance for both South Korean and Asian football is undeniable.
Frankly, PSV had to discard most of its regulars and build entirely different team. Fifth place was not quite right for such a club. Nor was 4th position for Feyenoord, lead by Vaclav Jezek, but there problem was not aging.
The problem of Feyenoord was rebuilding – a new squad was taking shape, but it was still formless and not very strong. Some were already very experienced, but not great leaders – Rene Notten, Sjaak Troost, and Jan Peters. Others were promising, but only that – Joop Hiele, Ben Wijnstekers, Karel Bouwens. The Danish import Ivan Nielsen was still not at the peak of his career. Feyenoord missed the right moment for starting a new team back in the mid-1970s and now suffered the consequences of hesitation – apparently, PSV Eindhoven did not learn from their sorry example and now was in the very situation Feyenoord was around 1975-76. Rebuilding was particularly difficult after missing the crucial moment – another sorry example. Feyenoord was not a factor at the moment – the heavy price.
FC Utrecht was good news this year – they finished 3rd, a great success for them. True, they bested Feyenoord only on goal-difference, were never in the battle for the title, and perhaps just benefited by the weakness of Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, and Twente, but they earned the bronze medals.
Third row: H. v. Breukelen, H. v.d. Vlag, J. v.d. Akker, J. Stroomberg, B. Rieter, T. de Kruyk, G. v.d. Lem.
Middle row: trainer N. Berger, G. Tervoort, 2e trainer J. Verkaik, J. van Veenendaal, J. Wildbret, T. Duchatinier, K. van Tamelen, W. Carbo, P. Eikelboom, T. Norbert, verzorger J. Okhuyzen, W. van Hanegem.
Sitting: Dr. Querido, T. Gruters, G. Kruys, J. van Staa, J. Wouters, F. Adela, W. Flight.
Great team Utrecht was not, but lead by Wim van Hanegem they outplayed themselves. A memorable season, although it was quite clear it was not to be repeated: the team did not have big potential, nor they had money to buy stronger players. Van Hanegem was at his last legs, but there was a player for the future – the great goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen already was noticed. A bit of success only helped his reputation – and perhaps was not helping Utrecht, because they were not able to keep a star for long.
Ajax finished 2nd but so distant second, the season could be seen as a failure – 12 points behind the champions. One good thing was that they were still maintaining leading position in the country. To a point, one can blame the whole league for having wrong attitude: Ajax were prime example of shrewd financial policy, selling quality players to the highest bidder and recruiting as cheaply as possible, but it was general Dutch approach – this season almost all foreigners were Danish. Ajax had three – 2 were rapidly rising stars, the third was a veteran over the hill. Somewhat the chemistry was not there and not for the first year either. Ajax – unlike the smaller clubs – did hot shy away from big names, but preferred them old, when their price was not big (Vasovic, Blankenburg, Mulder, Zoltan Varga, Geels, to name a few – and now Henning Jensen). Sometimes the policy worked, sometimes did not – this time it did not.
Rarely Holland had so dominating champion, finishing 12 points ahead of the nearest pursuer. Even more rare was a brand new champion. AZ’67 (Alkmaar) was and is seen as unlikely champion, may be just a chancy one, but chancy champions never finish with such astounding records: 27 wins, 6 ties, and only one loss. The boys scored 101 goals, receiving only 30. The best attack, the best defense, almost unbeatable and seemingly not even recognizing the distinction between home and away games, for they equally successful on every stadium: scored 51 goals at home and 50 away, received 14 at home and 16 away, won 14 matches at home and 13 away. Almost ironic was the fact that the only match they lost was in Alkmaar. Superior in every aspect, staggeringly dominant – and winning their very first title.
Wonderful champions, but today especially they were considered just a lucky underdog – it is not true. AZ’67 did not pop out of the blue – they started their climb in 1975-76, when they finished 6th. The next year they were 3rd and in 1977-78 -also 3rd. 4th in 1978-79, then 2nd in 1979-80 – not exactly your surprise team. Now they obviously reached their peak and won the championship. Their peculiar approach worked just fine: AZ’67 started with recruiting some aged stars, seen as over the hill, complimented by talented youngsters, who, for some reason did not interested the big clubs. The mixture worked and some fine tuning and careful adjustments made AZ’67 a wonderful team full of current stars. To the envy of the big three, AZ’67 formed a very strong team – Treytel, Hovenkamp, Spelbos, Arnzt, Metgod, Jonker. Kees Kist was the bright great star not only of the club, but the leading scoring machine in Europe. Add the experienced Dane Kristen Nygaard and the Austrian national team striker Kurt Welzl and there was the strongest side in Holland. The coach was good too – the West German Georg Kessler never made it big at home, but was successful abroad – he came from Swarovski Wacker (Austria) and was perfect for AZ’67 – as a coach, he was arguably at the perfect age: 49 years old, but vastly experienced. At his peak, one may say, and the same applies to his team. AZ’67 just galloped throw the season, winning left and right, but most importantly they were very exciting to watch – they brought back the old fast, attacking, high-scoring, wonderful to watch total football. It was their year and the title was more then well deserved.