Saturday, January 16, 2010

Holland was Ajax and Feyenoord. Ajax won the title, predictably. They won the Cup, predictably. Feyenoord finished second, predictably. ADO Den Haag was Cup finalist. Losing finalist, predictably. Let’s go away from the predictable: FC Volendam. But why mentioning obscure Second Division club?
Not for pure football reasons, really. Since their founding date in 1920, the club’s only fame was producing the Muhren brothers – Gerrie and Arnold, the first already famous with great Ajax, where both were playing already; Arnold will become famous years later. Some sources call them cousins, so go figure. But FC Volendam were the first in Holland in two other things: they were the first club to put sponsorship advertising on their shirts – and created a scandal because of that with their own amateaur section (the club joined professionalism in 1955, but preserved quite powerfull amateaur section as well). Both the concept and the sponsor were a problem: one was ‘unbecoming’ for self-respectful club; the other was illegal. The sponsor was pirate radiostation, Radio Veronica, broadcasting from a ship ancoured outside Holland’s territorial waters. The club used the station’s logo – a big letter V with a ship in the middle – and used the chancy add in their defence: the club claimed that V stands for Volendam and the ship… well, the ship was a local fishing vesel, celebrating the main occupation of the city’s folk. Flaky explaination, but legally impossible to call it a lie. Business is business, though, and the sponsors got bright idea – they used Volendam’s team picture for the sleeve of rock’n’roll album. It was a compilation of top Dutch bands, like the Cats, Continental Uptight Band, etc. Now, there was nothing new about football teams recording songs – even Pele did it – but this one was entirely different: the real bands played their real songs. It was rock album, not the usual novelty of pseudo-football songs sung by people hardly able to speak, let alone sing.
And here is the record sleeve, the real loge of the pirates on the top right corner, the list of bands, the shirt adds, lowly FC Volendam, and the weird headgear of their goalkeeper. Mind, George Baker Selection was quite popular in Europe at that time! Dreadful band, much played at disco clubs. End of story? Not quite – soon the Dutch clubs, big and small, followed Volendam’s experiment with the sirts: it was bringing cash.