SV Robinhood – From Suriname’s best to worst

By Nathan Carr

Success can be fickle. From perennial champions to relegation for the first time in their history, SV Robinhood’s plight is a reminder of how success is not always sustainable. Here is their story…
Based in Suriname’s capital city, Paramaribo, the birthplace of some of the world’s most revered footballers such as Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Robinhood is a club steeped in history. Indeed, their trophy cabinet is packed with silverware: five Surinamese bekers, five Super Cups and an astounding 23 Hoofdklasse titles. But in recent times their dominance has waned, and now, after finishing bottom of the 2013/14 standings, they will play the new season in the second division, the Eerste Klasse. Something they have never done before.
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Founded in 1945, the primary reason for the club’s formation was to create community cohesion by offering Paramaribo’s poorest men the opportunity to play football. In an area where money and basic facilities were in short supply, Robinhood began in a barefoot league called the Tweede Klasse. Impressing in the lower levels, their route to the next stage in the pyramid was blocked purely because of a requirement to wear boots; an issue when Robinhood couldn’t afford to buy them. Eventually, two years after the club’s inception, they were presented with a dozen pairs of boots and promotion to the Eerste Klasse. At this time, Robinhood was a team comprised of naturally gifted players with raw abilities, and the people of Paramaribo were captivated, as Robinhood gained the nickname Geen Strijd, Geen Kroon (No Fight, No Glory). 
The team’s rise to the top was inexorable and in 1949, a mere four years following their creation, Robinhood found themselves in the Hoofdklasse, where all the best sides wanted to be. After finding their feet for the first couple of years, adjusting to the league’s differences, Robinhood were crowned top-flight champions in 1953 in style, sweeping aside well-known competitors Transvaal 5-0. This marked the beginning of a very special period. 
Jule Gersie was the man who engineered such a triumph, as he was able to mould together a great team which went on to win the title a further three times during his tenure. The legendary figures of Humphrey Mijnals, who, in 1999, was selected Surinamese footballer of the century, and Charly Marbach, represented the timeless quality of Robinhood’s squad at the time. 
But it was in the 1970s and 1980s when Robinhood really started to gain a stranglehold on the Hoofdklasse, in a golden era which was overseen by Ronald Kolf, perceived as one of the best coaches in the history of the Surinamese game. Otherwise known as “Ro”, he was formerly on the books of Robinhood as a youth team player before leaving for pastures new, but was brought back after scout Andre de Vries recommended signing him. The outspoken Kolf’s time with the club only lasted three years because, according to reports, he “had problems with the technical leadership.” He soon left to join Robinhood’s rivals, Transvaal, but that didn’t last long either, and Kolf then decided to begin training as a coach. Given his first job as boss of Transvaal’s juniors, his side went unbeaten and won the championship. Sure enough, he was entrusted with the role of managing the seniors and that was no issue as Kolf guided them to titles in 1967 and 1968. His impressive work gained the attention of Robinhood, who signed Kolf on the very first day of 1969, and the rest was history.
In this glorious era of success, Robinhood ruled Surinamese football with only occasional bouts of interference from Transvaal. From 1971 to 1989, Geen Strijd, Geen Kroon picked up a total of 13 Hoofdklasse trophies. Kolf’s men were fighting on all fronts, finishing runners-up in the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup (now the CONCACAF Champions League) in the 1976 and 1977 campaigns. In the 1980s, the club kept up their pursuit of winning a piece of silverware on the continental stage, but could only manage runners-up again, losing out in the 1982 and 1983 finals.
The club enjoyed two decades of glory and waved goodbye to the 80’s by playing Ajax, one of the most well-known clubs on the planet, in a double-header where they won one and lost one. Not only that, but Robinhood also set up its own youth development centre as a symbol of their progression. This proved to be very useful in the 1990s, as the nucleus of the team was taken apart – the inevitable result of success - and key players left for the Netherlands and other places. Robinhood did manage to win another two Hoofdklasse’s in 1993/94 and 1994/95, but sustained success certainly became less assured. At this stage, the academy had been running for around 10 years and had produced some talented players such as Marcel Reidewald, Johan Vorstwijk and Ricardo Anches, but the squad was nowhere near the standard of previous eras.
It is important to point out that Suriname football is not-professional, but rather, functions in an amateur way: players receive small amounts of compensation from their clubs on a semi-professional basis. Because of this, the majority of players tend to leave after one year as clubs cannot tie them down for a prolonged period of time. This results in a situation where it is extremely difficult to build a familiar, consistent team. The death of former Surinamese Minister of Sport, Caribbean Football Union President and FIFA Vice President, Andre Kamperveen, also had a significant effect on the exportation of the country’s top players and Robinhood’s downward spiral. Under Kamperveen’s supervision of football in Suriname, many players fled to the Netherlands and the quality of the Hoofdklasse decreased, leaving teams feeling rather empty-handed.
The current chairman, Ludwig Van Dijk, has been in his position for over a decade. From 2000 to 2014, Robinhood has won the title just twice (2004/5, 2011/12). Other teams have come to the fore during this time like reigning champions Inter Moengotapoe – who are harboring hopes of becoming the first Surinamese club to turn professional – and Walking Bout Company. As a consequence of key players and the great Kolf (who ended his long spell as coach in 2003, replaced by Ricardo Winter) leaving, Robinhood have suffered. Their title triumph three years ago was a blip as last season they fared terribly, failing to win a single game in 18 attempts. They conceded 53 goals, the most in the league, and finished 12 points adrift of Boskamp in ninth. The Eerste Klasse is unknown territory for Robinhood and they’ll be expected to go straight back up, back to where their supporters no doubt feel they ‘belong’. 
Those golden years seem an awful long time ago now. 
This piece was written by Nathan Carr, who also runs The Home of Caribbean Football. Comments below please.

SV Robinhood – From Suriname’s best to worst

By Nathan Carr

Success can be fickle. From perennial champions to relegation for the first time in their history, SV Robinhood’s plight is a reminder of how success is not always sustainable. Here is their story…

Based in Suriname’s capital city, Paramaribo, the birthplace of some of the world’s most revered footballers such as Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Robinhood is a club steeped in history. Indeed, their trophy cabinet is packed with silverware: five Surinamese bekers, five Super Cups and an astounding 23 Hoofdklasse titles. But in recent times their dominance has waned, and now, after finishing bottom of the 2013/14 standings, they will play the new season in the second division, the Eerste Klasse. Something they have never done before.

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Dutch Fields by Hans van der Meer

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The Rise of Vitesse Arnhem: FC Hollywood upon Rhine

By Gary Armstrong

100 years ago, Vitesse Arnhem lost a playoff final against Sparta Rotterdam and as such finished runners up in the race for the 1912/13 Netherlands Football League Championship. A century on, the trophy cabinet at the GelreDome Stadium lies vacant and still awaits Vitesse’s maiden top flight championship trophy. With only a few games remaining in the Eredivisie this year, Vitesse sit in 3rd position, just 5 points astray of league leaders and Dutch giants Ajax. Surprising many by being able to maintain their title challenge until the business end of the season, this may not be the year that Vitesse Arnhem finally fill the gaping void in their history and secure their first Dutch Championship, but they are gaining deserved recognition.

Vitesse’s golden era came at the beginning of the 20th Century as the club ended as runners up of the Netherlands Football League Championship for three consecutive seasons between 1913 and 1915. Since then, the closest Vitesse have come to securing the top league title was a third place Eredivisie finish in 1998. The achievements of the 97/98 season provided a degree of progress for Vitesse given that the club had fallen into bankruptcy in the mid-80’s and spent the majority of the decade playing their football in Holland’s second tier. The resultant drama on and off the pitch during this era earned Vitesse the unenviable nickname of “FC Hollywood upon Rhine”.  

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Taking in the Ajax experience in Amsterdam with The Eurofan

It’s the home of bicycles, nightlife, Van Gogh and Ajax Amsterdam, of course. Since the launch of Copa90 last summer, one of their most entertaining shows follows the adventures of The Eurofan. It’s a show presented by Tom Deacon, who’s also a comedian and DJ for Radio 1, where he’s sent to different football cities each Champions League week to become a fan of the home team.

So far he’s travelled to Spain, Romania, Turkey, France, Russia and Celtic. And now, even though its not Champions League week, the Eurofan has flown to Amsterdam to become a fan of Ajax.

But this time he was accompanied by a friend of AFR, KSIJust as we documented the Ajax experience, together they explored the city, learned about the culture behind Ajax, interacted with fans and attended ‘De Klassieker’ - the heated Ajax vs Feyenoord derby.

You can watch the rest of Eurofan series here. Posted by Dom.

Luuk de Jong, Huntelaar and Dost represent the evolution of the Dutch number 9

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It’s strange, in a sort of good way, how a song can remind you of someone, their image instantly etched into your mind. ”The Saints Are Coming” (Green Day/U2 version), is one example, the goal music at De Grolsch Veste – home of FC Twente – now forever associated with Luuk de Jong, largely responsible for many of its airing last season, now plying his trade in Germany he’s hoping for a similar amount of encore performances.

His departure last summer, along with Bas Dost who moved from Heerenveen to Wolfsburg, confirmed the long-held view: one of the Netherlands chief exports is ‘number nines’. Both are the latest in a long line of Dutch strikers, a lineage as decorated as Italian defenders, but what excites most onlookers is not their records (which speaks for itself) but their gradual evolution: getting better, more uncanny in front of goal, both – notably De Jong – determined to be become renowned for scoring in the unlikeliest of situations. Ultimately to attain the title of number nine par excellence.

After conquering the Eredivisie a logical step would be the Bundesliga. A league equally synonymous with great strikers: Gerd Müller, Uwe Seeler, Klaus Fischer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to name but a few. Those illustrious figures of the past serve as a inspiration just like compatriots Henk Groot, Willy van der Kuijlen, Marco van Basten and Ruud Geels. On arrival it meant three Dutch numbers 9s in the same foreign league. The other, is already a household name and last season’s Bundesliga golden boot winner – first Dutch striker to do so – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

As time move so do trends, today for most up-and-coming strikers Huntelaar is their reference. Though the striker many still attempt to emulate is Van Basten still held as a beacon, ultimate example of near perfection, technique and finesse intertwined in unadulterated ruthlessness.

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Feyenoord’s Clasie has arrived and he’s here to stay

By Mohamed Moallim

There was one minute left in extra time and Ronald Koeman started to prepare for the inevitable. He found what he was looking for, a notepad and pen, after collecting his thoughts he jotted down numbers one through five. Next to number one ‘Lex’ was written, followed by a space, then letters I and M, before he could finish the surname, a loud roar erupted, looking up, Koeman saw Lex Immers – the very person that was going to take the penalty – wheel away in celebration, Feyenoord left it very late.

In a single minute every emotion imaginable was exhausted. They say the KNVB Beker is often void of drama well the Goffertstadion played host to one. It was cruel on NEC, but satisfying for Feyenoord, who needed that win. A few days earlier they were second best to a PSV side many had down on the verge of a crisis. Yes, even this early.

It goes to show how much football has changed, it’s about the here and now, no patience and nothing is kept in perspective anymore. A one game losing streak, to paraphrase Roy Keane, is a crisis. Their success last season, finishing runners-up, has meant anything less won’t do. The expectation from the fans was the club would push on instead they’ve started their campaign slowly. The mindset of their support has reverted to a previous state one Koeman encourages and is doing everything to satisfy.

The club from Rotterdam is a different one from years gone by, but they are now – like before – players in the Eredivisie. Their recent successes, which is few and far between, been built on their esteemed youth academy based in Varkenoord, with its seemingly endless production line. The game against Excelsior – city rivals – last April featured 18 academy graduates, the bulk in red and white. On the scoresheet – getting their second in a 3-0 win – is probably their current crowning jewel: Jordy Clasie.

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Oranje Crushed: Why did the Dutch fail at Euro 2012?

By Jared Mercer

Along with Spain and Germany, the Dutch were pre-tournament favourites, but they went home with three losses out of three games and exit Euro 2012 along with the Irish as the only teams to have gained zero points for their efforts in Poland & Ukraine.  The question has been on everyone’s lips since the opening match loss to Denmark: where did it all go wrong?  Losing 1-0 to a defensively strong Danish side who were also unlucky to go out in the group stages was not the end of the world, but in the Group of Death it meant that the Oranje would have to get results against a good team in Portugal and the best team (aside from Spain) in Germany. Granted, the loss to the Danish was not all doom and gloom as it was a match that Holland dominated, but a timely finish from Danish star of the tournament Michael Krohn-Dehli (Christian Eriksen being surprisingly absent in all of their games) and then solid defending by the whole team as a unit, so there was some reason for optimism. Players, coaches and pundits alike have been attempting to assess the damage and wading through the garbage that was the Netherlands display at the tournament, it was never going to point to one conclusion. We will start from the beginning.

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Kids day at the Amsterdam Arena

After a KNVB cup match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar was suspended because a fan ran on to the pitch and attacked AZ’s keeper, Ajax were able to replay the match, but with one caveat: only kids (and a few supervisors) would be allowed into the Amsterdam Arena. About 20,000 children showed up for the match as part of a campaign to show the good of the game and the happiness that overpowers hooliganism. AZ won 3-2 in what was a fantastic match. AZ manager Gertjan Verbeek hailed the decision by Ajax saying, “all those … children create a lot of noise - and I should know, I’m the father of three daughters.”

All The Russian Billionaires Want Guus Hiddink

By Eric Beard

Despite everything Soccernomics preaches, Turkey’s path to becoming a footballing superpower has hit yet another bump in the road. The nation failed to qualify for EURO 2012, and via the transitive property this means Guus Hiddink’s time is up as manager. The country and the Dutch mastermind have parted ways, so Guus is officially on the market. Well, sort of. The Dutchman isn’t ready to simply jump into another coaching position. He said, “I want to have a rest. I haven’t decided my future yet, but it is too early to start with a new team.”

It is no secret that Johan Cruyff did all he could to convince Hiddink to come back home to Ajax to be the club’s Director of Football. Dreams of football purists envisioning the Ajax of the 1970s returning to power died quickly, as Guus has said there is too much turmoil at the Amsterdam-based club for him.

All signs seem to point to a return to Chelsea, where he gained legend status at Stamford Bridge in only a matter of months. "It was great at Chelsea, a terrific time, but that does not mean I am ready to start tomorrow. I need time to reflect. I’m not ready to retire, I like to be involved with a team on a daily basis, but maybe I am ready to step out of the limelight a little bit, away from the cameras. Hopefully I will still be involved but perhaps it will be as an adviser or a consultant.”

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