Wednesday, August 1, 2012

None of the big clubs managed to reach the Dutch Cup final this season, another sign of the looming crisis. Lesser clubs made it the final, which is always great. And it is also a clear sign of heavy problems in a league traditionally dominated by three clubs, head and shoulders above anybody else. At the end, even the Cup finalists are more telling of problems than anything else: Twente were considered the possible 4th great Dutch team just a few years back. They did not become that... P.E.C. Zwolle were small fry, but one single great veteran was able to put them at par with the big guys... so much for the big clubs, then. Twente finished at 9th place this year, obviously becoming run of the mill team. Zwolle were not in First Division at all – they inhabited the Second. A duel of dwarfs... and no problem for the First Division club... No problem? The regular time ended in a 0-0 draw. Extra time produced three goals, all scored by Twente. Looks confident victory on paper... too bad Zwolle did not have a little bit more stamina.

FC Twente: André van Gerven, Cees van Ierssel, Niels Overweg, Epi Drost, Harry Bruggink, Frans Thijssen, Kick van der Vall, Arnold Mühren, Piet Wildschut, Ab Gritter (Theo Pahlplatz), Hallvar Thoresen (Jan Jeuring).

PEC Zwolle: Bob Nieuwenhout, Klaas Drost, Rinus Israël, Ben Hendriks, Henk Warnas, Koko Hoekstra (Bjarne Petersen), Niels Sörensen, René Ijzerman (Tjeerd van ‘t Land), Ronald Hendriks, Yuri Banhoffer, Jan Hendriksen.

Goals: 96’ Epi Drost 1-0
105’ Arnold Mühren (penalty) 2-0
110’ Jan Jeuring 3-0

For P.E.C. Zwolle it was definitely big success to play at the Cup final. In their whole history, it was their second final. The first was in 1928. Modest club by any stick, it was their finest hour in professional football (in 1928 Dutch football was amateur). Second division clubs hardly ever possess known players, let alone stars, so there is nothing really to tell about their squad: except Rinus Israel.
'Ijzeren Rinus' they called him. Iron Rinus. That was in the days of great Feyenoord, European cups and all. By now it was just memory – Israel was 34 years old, and although he no longer played with spectacles, he was approaching retirement in Second Division. That was the best Zwolle had, but the mighty veteran inspired them to Cup final. To the end of the regular time, really. But one guy is not enough...

It was enough for the boys from Enschede: a crown performance of the team, which showed so much promise few years back.

Lifting the Cup in triumph. For Twente, this was the first trophy ever won!
Standing from left: Jan Morsing(assistent-trainer), Ab Gritter, Harry Bruggink, Niels Overweg, Marc de Clerck, Volkmar Gross, Eddy Pasveer, Jan Jeuring, Cees van Ierssel, Frans Thijssen, Wim Snellenberg(fysiotherapeut), Jan Ebbink(administrator).

(Onderste rij)
Hans Aabech, Gabor Zele, Eddy Achterberg, Kick van der Vall, Epi Drost, Spitz Kohn(trainer/coach), Arnold Mühren, Jaap Bos, Kalle Oranen, Theo Pahlplatz.

Spitz Kohn was still the coach, and the team was practically still the team he made a few years back. Unfortunately, getting older and, therefore, suffering the general ills of Dutch football – same players, no longer improving, and no really worthy new talent. It was great for Kohn, Overweg, van Ierssel, Jeuring, Pahlplatz, Oranen, Drost, van der Vall, and Achterberg finally to win something. They hardly had any more years left to 1977 they were no longer national team material. It was at least satisfying ending of careers, although for the club it was culmination of good years, the finest moment. The club was trying to keep strong squad, to change it painlessly, if possible, but... the Norwegian national team player Hallvar Thoresen and the Hungarian defector Gabor Zele were hardly the future. They were both young and Thoresen was reliable, but hardly a star. Good for Norwegian at the time, which was not all that much. As for Zele, he had no name in Hungary, and obviously was not to make one in Western Europe. Playing for Twente was his highest achievement – and dubious as well, for he played little. Basically, the future of Twente rested on Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, midfielders roughly 25 years old. No big names so far, and Muhren was mere reserve when with Ajax, but helping Twente, getting better, and most importantly, at good age. Their fame came later, though – when both played in England, but no doubt Twente depended on them already. May be they made the whole difference at the final and brought the Cup to Enschede. First Cup ever! No matter what else, it was great moment and well deserved.