Sunday, July 24, 2016

 Holland. An interesting case – how to measure? The yearly UEFA ranking placed Holland number one for 1980-81. The 5-year table – important for the next season UEFA Cup quota – placed the Dutch 4th, quite ahead of France. That gave them 3 teams in the UEFA Cup, which in turn almost assured that the country will stay high in the quota table. Technically, the UEFA ranking was the most objective and it was simple: based on wins and ties, who got the most points stayed on top. But European club football was not the whole picture: Dutch football lost its dominance, the current generation was not even close to the great players of the early 1970s, the kind of football the Dutch played by now was not exciting, but solid, physical, and not particularly skilful. Not only Holland lost its aura at the 1980 European championship finals, but in 1981 they failed to qualify for the 1982 World Cup. They finished 4th in their group, ahead only of Cyprus. Crisis was obvious, yet, Dutch players were highly respected professionals and foreign clubs, particularly British ones, eagerly signed them. Well, the players had great reason to be determined professionals, but their exodus was not helping football at home – Ajax, Feyenoord, and now PSV Eindhoven were no longer feared and, worse, they were not very strong anymore. One can say inertia ruled: Dutch football was thought of highly only because of old success and habit dies hard. Unfortunately, the country was too small and not able to maintain big professional football – it had 2-tier system: two professional leagues and vast, but separated non-professional system, which never came into focus outside the Netherlands. Those, outside the professional system, were diverse clubs. Some new and small, some old and with great past. Like Be Quick.  


 Be Quick (Groningen) were found in 1887 and once upon a time were not only leading Dutch club, but even champions. Now they non-professional and if one thought of local football, FC Groningen came to mind, not Be Quick. And there was no way of 'discovering' such a club – the professional football was practically closed to amateurs.