Today our Lost Champions series takes us to the Netherlands and the story of the country’s now extinct former national title winners. There’s eight in all accounting for 12 historic League championship wins between them.
The very first Dutch championship was contested in 1889, although it’s not always considered official as not all its fixtures were completed. The winners were the amateurs of Rotterdam Cricket and Football Club Concordia, or VV Concordia for short. VV’s history was short and sweet and two years after this success the club merged with Olympia Rotterdam to form a new and awkwardly named entity named RC & VV Rotterdam. That new club lasted just two years before disappearing completely.
By then RAP from Amsterdam had taken over as the pre-eminent Dutch side winning five championships between 1892 and 1899. A football club formed from members of three local cricket clubs, RAP won its fifth title in the same year it won the De Telegraaf Cup, so becoming the first Dutch double winners.
Fortunes faded after the turn of the century and the club merged with local club Volharding in 1914 to create Volharding-RAP-Combination. This new club carried on playing for a few more seasons before abandoning football to focus exclusively on cricket.
Fellow Amsterdam football institutions De Volewijckers (champions in 1944) and DWS (champions in 1964) were to the fore in the early years of Dutch professionalism. The inexorable rise of Ajax during the 1960s gradually pushed their Amsterdam neighbours to the margins, so in response De Volewijckers, DWS and a third local club named Blauw-Wit came together over the course of a couple of years in the early 1970s to create a super club that they hoped could compete on more equal terms. This new club was called FC Amsterdam and it endured a short and fragile existence with relegation from the Eredivisie in 1978 costing it much of its support and leading to the club folding in 1982. The De Volewijckers and DWS names carried on solely as amateur concerns.
The four other Lost Dutch champions are all single-time winners from the decade immediately following the end of the Second World War. HFC Haarlem became champions in 1946 and remained a respected name in Dutch football as late as the 1980s when they played in European competition with a team that included a young Ruud Gullit. The club went bankrupt in 2010 and was replaced a few months later by a new amateur club named Haarlem Kennemerland.
Based in the town of Schiedam to the west of Rotterdam, the Excelsior club was formed in 1904 and after several name changes became known as SVV by the time it entered national competition. Their moment of glory came in 1949 with the national championship won with victory in the play-off final against Heerenveen. The club spent much of the next four decades in the second and third tiers until in 1988 a local businessman stepped in to save it from impending bankruptcy. Money was pumped in and an Eredivisie return followed in 1990, but optimism was immediately crushed as the new owner merged SVV with neighbours Dordrecht ’90. That club still exists but with no reference in its name to its part Schiedam origins.
A stylish 6-0 away win at Ajax on the last day of the season secured SV Limburgia’s sole title in 1950. The transition to professionalism was problematic and by 1963 the club had fallen to the third tier of the Dutch game. By the early 70s it had plunged to the amateur sections and in 1998 disappeared altogether following a merger with RKBSV.
FC Utrecht is a club that came about through a consolidation of the city’s three clubs in 1970, the aim being to create one major powerhouse that could better compete with the big city giants of the Dutch game. Utrecht has never managed to win a title, although ironically one of those three clubs lost in the merger to create it, did. The colourful and popular VV DOS won the 1958 championship and played in the following season’s European Cup.