The early 1970's was a glorious era for Ajax Football Club and Dutch Total Football, with 3 European Cup triumphs in 1971,72,73. They also added the Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.Their first win in 1971 with coach Rinus Michels was at Wembley Stadium, 2-0 over Panathinaikos of Greece coached by Ferenc Puskas. Michels was replaced by Stefan Kovacs and they won the next two cups. I had a chat with Kovacs after a training session in 1972.
Prior to WWII there were over 140,000 Jewish people in Amsterdam, many of them living in the area near their old De Meer Stadium. I had a chance meeting with a former Ajax coach, Keith Spurgeon, an old friend, one of about 14 Ajax English coaches since 1909, and who later coached Dallas Tornado for Lamar Hunt. We were sailing from Goteborg to Harwich during his tenure in Sweden with Landskrona BOIS,and met embarking and had a great meal and chat on board across the North Sea.
There was a small bungalow at the De Meer stadium and Keith and his wife lived there. The cleaning lady had a 'waif' of a son who trained there and Mrs. Spurgeon brought him home for English style lunch to fatten him up. His name was Johann Cruyff and the rest, as they say, is history. He still speakes Yiddish 'the lingua franca' of the area and gave an interview in Israel in that language a couple of years ago. His No 14 is retired. Johann and The Twelve Apostles including Johann Neeskens, Gerrie Muhren, Piet Keizer, Wim Suurbier, Ruud Kroll, Arie Haan, Sjack Swart are legends and you can visit the Ajax Museum, the Players Cafe and the large Fan Store at AMSTERDAM ARENA which they have used since the $134 million complex was opened in 1996.
The stylised AJAX club badge featuring the Greek god Ajax is made up of 11 lines, the number of players on a football team. They also had the right to keep the European Cup and wear the badge of honour. 29 national championships, 17 KNVB cups and 3 Super Cups are also on their roll of honours. www.ajax.nl
Nearby is TOE KOMST -The Future, the Youth Academy with a small 3,000 seat stadium. I went to see an EREDIVISIE match last weekend against Sparta Rotterdam. When I was welcomed in the Press Lounge one journalist asked me if I had come to the city to smoke the grass or watch the match on grass. He was from a famous, though small, newspaper, Het Parool, established as a resistance newspaper to the German occupation. www.parool.nl. He did promise lots of goals and that was about to come true.
Ajax, coached by Marco Van Basten won 5-2 with some glorious sublime football and goals from captain Klaas Jan Huntelaar who has replaced Van Nistelrooy with the national team, Luis Suarez from Uruguay, Evander Sno -Dutch, Kennedy - Swedish Assysian, and Leonardo from Brazil. Their fans chant Juden!, Juden! -Jews and are called the Godenzonen 'Sons of God' and I saw many fans carry Israeli, Star of David flags. The new stadium holds 52,000 and is usually full with steep sides and green, blue, red, gold patterned seats. It was the first stadium with a retractable roof and notorious for the grass dying. Electric fans were later installed and now they have a completely new system to keep it green all season. I enjoyed orange juice at the press lounge-the same colour of the national team shirts-after the House of Orange. Blood red oranges could be squeezed to match the Ajax red/white shirts. My idea first!
So easy to get to with 2 rail stations within 200 metres and only 3 stops from Schiphol Airport-the best in Europe if you are on a quick visit.