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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Crossing the Chasm: The Polder Cup

Whether it’s a controversy over goal-line technology, a linesman plastered across newspapers after a dubious call, or a referee put to the sword after falling prey to a bit of simulation in the box, football is a sport preoccupied with its own minutiae. So much so, that for all the vitriol and passion that trails every small incident on the pitch, it’s often easy to forget that at the end of the day, football is just a game.

San Sebastian-based artist Maider López built upon that premise with her Polder Cup project, where she hosted a football tournament in Southern Holland across a series of mismatched pitches. From jagged boundary lines to hollows and bumps littering the field and even ditches of water splitting fields in two, Maider parodied the rigid official rule-set by creating a situation in which players had to adapt their strategy and interpretation of the rules to the environment around them.

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Goalscorers don’t sit on benches and neither should Huntelaar

By Mohamed Moallim

It’s reached the point where Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is no longer frustrated; this summer will be his fourth successive tournament with Oranje, under a third different manager, but Huntelaar’s situation remains the same. If not for Robin van Persie he would be the undisputed Dutch ‘number nine’.
Huntelaar or Van Persie intensified during the build up to Euro 2012. It turned into a debate that divided the nation. The former came out on top in every newspaper poll; however the opinion that mattered belonged to then manager Bert van Marwijk, his decision was already made, opting for Van Persie, off the back of a breathless season in England even if Huntelaar matched him stride for stride in Germany.
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It was a second chance. Van Persie led the line in South Africa but finished with one goal same as Huntelaar despite starting every game. “Of course I’m angry and disappointed,” Huntelaar said after learning of the news from Van Marwijk after a training session days before the tournament. He had every right, one reason supporters backed him was because of his record, Huntelaar scored 15 goals in his last 17 games prior to Euro 2012. Van Persie managed the same amount in his last 26 games spanning three years.
No stranger to adversity, his mental toughness was forged at PSV, opportunities were limited but it didn’t stop him from learning from the clubs finest: Van Nistelrooy, Luc Nilis and Mateja Kežman. It paid dividends. The last decade seen him morph into a modern predator turned all-rounder (part-playmaker, part-finisher) – adding distinctive traits of the three: Van Nistelrooy’s finishing, Nilis’ ingenuity and Kežman’s fearlessness – every game he cuts an impassive figure, mind focused, void of distraction and feeling every fibre geared for a single purpose. Once that mission is done the child in him escapes but just as quickly his mask goes back up and the cycle starts again.
To say goals is an obsession would be an understatement. It’s compulsive. His one addiction “when you hear it [ball hitting the net] you spend the whole of the next week longing to hear it again,” Huntelaar told UEFA.com. “It’s like the elixir of life.” 
Louis van Gaal, current Oranje boss, described him as the best inside the penalty area “bar none”. But Huntelaar is much more. His all-round game – awareness, vision, movement and link-up play – stands out greater than it has done before. Huntelaar’s natural game centres around an innate ability to score just about every type of goal, often in the most unlikely of situations, whether creating for himself or finishing a team effort – it can be ugly or laced with finesse – his ambidexterity makes it easier as well as being acrobatic and dominant in the air.
The city of Gelsenkirchen, after a two year odyssey in southern Europe, has reinvigorated him. In the bright lights of the Bundesliga [first Dutchman to win the ‘kicker Torjägerkanone’ – top scorer in 2011-12] he’s showing the form that first brought him to widespread attention at Heerenveen then Ajax eight years ago: a ruthless goal-scoring machine that drew comparisons with premier Dutch marksmen of yesteryear including Marco van Basten, who in spite of growing pressure resisted calling him up for a place in his World Cup 2006 squad.
Instead ‘De Hunter’, that summer, went to the U21 European Championships in Portugal where he spearheaded the Dutch to their first title. A few months later Huntelaar made his international debut in Dublin scoring a brace. It would be another seven games before adding to his tally. He’s never looked back since.
His time with Real Madrid and AC Milan respectively is often looked back on as a failure, but in reality he was a victim of circumstance. Huntelaar arrived in Madrid as Bernd Schuster, the manager that wanted him, was leaving. His successor Juande Ramos saw him as an unwanted €27M welcome present. But when push came to shove, true to form, Huntelaar proved his worth in goals: eight in his first five appearances. Florentino Pérez’s return in the summer of 2009 ended a brief six-month stay.
It was no different in Milan the following campaign; manager Leonardo preferring Marco Borriello and Filippo Inzaghi instead, however there were glimpses most notably a stupendous brace in injury time away to Catania and penultimate goal away to Cagliari a fantastic left-footed drive from 20+ yards out, another example faith in him would be rewarded, exactly what Schalke has done.
Felix Magath gave him a platform as well as a supporting cast, Huub Stevens and Jens Keller as well, the latter describing him as “class” (no pun intended). His recent goal against Hertha BSC was his 275th at club level; since his return from a knee injury that robbed him four months of this season, he’s scored 10 times from 13 games played. ‘HunTORlaar’: a befitting moniker.
Another is ‘Hunter der Nation’. Huntelaar, to his credit, at one stage – despite never being considered first choice in six years as an international – was close to breaking Oranje’s all-time goals record held by Patrick Kluivert which Van Persie subsequently broke. However, if we look at goal-to-minute ratio, only the legendary Faas Wilkes (one every 99) betters Huntelaar (one every 101). Van Persie, in comparison, one every 143. But the Manchester United striker ability and dynamism is unquestionable. Van Persie – now skipper – barring an injury should start in their World Cup opener against Spain [June 13]. “No, it doesn’t bother me,” Huntelaar recently told Sp!ts. “Of course I have ambitions, but it is what it is.” 
Van Gaal, not one to admit, subscribes to Johan Cruyff’s ‘conflict model’:  an individual should be encouraged to prove his manager wrong. There’s a player at his disposal – in what could be his last major tournament – determined (who can grab a goal out of nowhere). And that bodes well for Oranje.

 This piece was written by Mohamed Moallim, our resident Dutch expert. Follow him on twitter @jouracule. Comments below please.

Goalscorers don’t sit on benches and neither should Huntelaar

By Mohamed Moallim

It’s reached the point where Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is no longer frustrated; this summer will be his fourth successive tournament with Oranje, under a third different manager, but Huntelaar’s situation remains the same. If not for Robin van Persie he would be the undisputed Dutch ‘number nine’.

Huntelaar or Van Persie intensified during the build up to Euro 2012. It turned into a debate that divided the nation. The former came out on top in every newspaper poll; however the opinion that mattered belonged to then manager Bert van Marwijk, his decision was already made, opting for Van Persie, off the back of a breathless season in England even if Huntelaar matched him stride for stride in Germany.

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A Monument to Losing: The Importance of World Cup Heartbreak

By Zack Goldman

No feeling is more coveted in football than World Cup triumph.

But, is there any one more fascinating—or important—as World Cup heartbreak? 

In any tournament, it’s only natural that the language and tone that we use to discuss the event is elevated and inflated.  This is especially true during the World Cup.  No matter how banal any loss may appear—it’s not just a loss.  It’s billed as a death.

It’s that moment when hearts, full of hope, founder—going down with the wreckage of a cup dream sailing smoothly only breaths earlier.  The moment when thoughts of “oh?” turn to “oh no” and then, emptily, just to “oh.”

That’s not to say achievements in the World Cup are only measured by winning the whole thing—or even winning games at all—but it is to say that there is something deeply sonorous and bleak that comes with being knocked out.

Yet, if one of football—and, indeed, sport’s—truest beauties is that it provides a vehicle for sharing the power of an emotion with others, then the importance of losing is the essence of that virtue more than victory.

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Dutch Fields by Hans van der Meer

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Fat Tuesday and the Paradox of the Post-Season

John Ray reviews yesterday’s matches

It’s a funny paradox: when the season ends there’s just more and more football. I was looking forward to a brief moment of stasis after the weekend’s full slate of friendlies, World Cup qualifiers, and U21 action, but the Americas would just not listen. There were fewer matches, but the ones that occurred had moments of brilliance and absurdity. Let me help you separate the meat from the bone. 

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Jozy plays on

Jozy Altidore was abused with ‘monkey chants’ during AZ Alkmaar’s match by some FC Den Bosch supporters. The game was temporarily suspended for the chants and ice balls being thrown at linesmen but Jozy let it be known that he wanted to continue the game. The match resumed with the American international leading AZ Alkmaar to a 5-0 win. 

(via heavens2betsy) 

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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Buy low and sell high - The nature of the selling club?

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Another year and another transfer window. Throughout the month of January clubs all over Europe frantically try to conduct business, and whilst some gain significant firepower, others lose crucial cogs in their machine. It’s a brutal month for managers and fans alike, but there is a certain type of club that it usually spells doom for: The selling club.

Like a baton that nobody wants, the notion of being a selling club is usually placed on small to midsize provincial sides, which after a short period of sustainability in their domestic league have been deemed ripe for the harvest as larger sides cherry pick the highest performers (it’s also worth noting that any team can be classed as a selling club, but for the sake of continuity we will go with this definition).

There’s an old adage in football that there is no time for sentimentality, and for fans of selling clubs this couldn’t be truer. No sooner has the club shop run out of a player’s name for the back of the replica shirts, the player is subject of a big money move to another club. It’s a harsh reality, but for a term that is usually considered an insult, is it really so bad?

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