The History of Ajax

'The Foul'

The history of Ajax begins at the end of the nineteenth century. The famed Pim Mullier brought football (soccer), along with a number of other sports, from England to the Netherlands, after which the sport gained in popularity, especially with the younger population. This trend followed in Amsterdam too. Several students of the HBS on the Weteringschans set up the 'Footh Ball Club Ajax' in a cafe on the Amstelveenseweg. Upon the first anniversary a large number of the members leave the club after an argument, and the club falls apart.

'The Establishment'

On March 18, 1900, the Amsterdamse Football Club Ajax is set up by Han Dade, Floris Stempel and Karel Reeser. Just a short half-year later, the first competition match is played and won, against DOSB in the Amsterdamse Voetbal Bond. After 2 years, the sport progresses to national competition. After another 6 years, the decision was made to fuse with Holland, a fusion that resulted in promotion to the First Class in 1910. In the mean time the team plays on terrain along the Middenweg, near to the terrain where the team will play until the summer of 1996. At this new location, success is not immediate. The first and only degradation in the existence of Ajax follows in 1914.

'The First Successes'

The stay in the lower class is unfortunately longer than was intended. In 1915 Ajax jumps back on top with new management and new players, but in conjunction with the improvised league of NVB in these war years, which make promotion impossible, the highest level of competition cannot be reached again until 1917. In the first year in which Ajax is again allowed to compete in the First Class, it is immediately apparent that the team unjustly played a year longer than necessary in the lower class. In that year the team earns the first national championship. The following year is the first time since 1899, when RAP was the first undefeated Dutch club to become champion, that a club becomes champion without losing a single game. And this team is non-other than the previous year's champion, Ajax.

'Big Changes'

After 10 or so years without success, during which the expanding of the horizon does nothing for football, the 30's are the beginning of a impressive series. With the legendary Jack Reynolds as trainer, and still possibly legendary players such as Anderiesen, Volkers, and "Goaltjes" Piet van Reene, the national championship is brought in 5 times. In 3 other years Ajax is division-champion, and in the other 2 years, second in the division. In 1933 Ajax moves to a new home. The team moves to the terrain on the Middenweg, designed by architect Daan Roodemburgh, where the Voorland farm once was, across from Betondorp that would later bring forth Johan Cruijff. This football temple-to-be could seat 22,000 spectators at that time, and would later see many successes arise within it.

'The War Years'

Ajax was not unaffected by the war. The club saw many players immobilized and transported, and normal competition was impossible. Right after the war Ajax picked up the pace again. In 1947 the first national championship is won, and the 50th anniversary of the team in 1950 completes the festivities.

'The Last Amateur-Years'

After 1947, the next success is some time away. The early 1950's are characterized by the dangers regarding the introduction into professional football. In other countries the players are paid, and therefore many Dutch clubs lose their important players. After much resistance from the KNVB and the necessary unrest surrounding professional competitions and bonding, in 1954 it's finally time. The Head Class becomes the new First Class, and in 1957 Ajax wins its first national championship in professional football.

'Definitive Breakthrough'

In the early 1960's it goes up and down with Ajax. After a national championship and a KNVB cup, things nearly go amiss in the 1964-1965 season. Ajax can only keep 3 clubs below itself in the final rankings, and narrowly avoids relegation. Trainer Vic Buckingham is replaced by Rinus Michels, who's work the following seasons pays off. Ajax is national champion 3 years in a row, and the Big Ajax is born, with stars as Cruijff, Swart, and Keiser. International success looms. In 1966 Ajax plays the legendary match in the fog against Liverpool, and in 1969 only AC Milan can stop Ajax, and that in the final of the Europa Cup for national champions. In 1970 Feyenoord becomes the first Dutch Club European champion, but the supremacy of Ajax won't wait much longer.

'Europe Belongs to Ajax'

The Netherlands seems to dominate international football in the early 70's. With sparkling football, the Dutch team doesn't quite book the needed successes, but the reputation of the Netherlands as "the Brazil of Europe" is established for good. The successes of Ajax can be considered the main cause for this. Ajax wins the Europa Cup for national champions in 1971, 1972, and 1973, by beating Panathinaikos, Inter Milan, and Juventus respectively in the finals. In the previous rounds legendary clubs such as Benefica, Bayern Munchen, and Real Madrid are beaten, in sometimes legendary matches. In 1972 Ajax also wins the World Cup, and also adds 2 Supercups to the prize cabinet.

'The New Generations'

After Ajax won everything there was to win in the early 70's, a big void fell upon the success. Stars such as Cruijff and Neeskens depart to other countries, and a rather colorless period seems to begin. A new generation of players must turn the tide. Tscheu la-Ling, Tahamata, Ruud Geels, and other bring young blood into the team, and between 1976 and 1980 Ajax wins 3 championships. In the beginning of the 80's there is another new generation. Vanenburg, Kieft, Van Basten, Jesper Olsen, and Frank Rijkaard are but five names of a long list. They provide Ajax with 3 more Dutch championships.

'Back To The Top'

In 1987 Johan Cruijff returns to Ajax. He is the technical director and serves to bring Ajax more success. He is unable to gain a national championship, but he dus bring Ajax back to the European top. In Athens Ajax beats Lokomotiv Leipzig by one point scored by Marco van Basten in the finals of the Europa Cup. A year later Ajax loses the same final competition agains the Belgian KV Mechelen, but it is shown that Ajax is always a team to be reckoned with. It does take several years for that to hold true though. In 1990 Leo Beenhakker brings in another national championship, but he must depart to let another "Golden Age" begin. His successor, Louis van Gaal immediately sets the tone for the coming years. In 1992 he wins the UEFA Cup in his first season, but establishes his name as top coach through the way Ajax plays. In the two following years he gets the top prize, to make the 1994-1995 a top season again. Ajax becomes champion without losing even one competition game, an unusual accomplishment. The crown of the season is the winning of the Europa Cup for national champion, through brilliant defeats of clubs such as Bayern Munchen and namely AC Milan, who was beaten a total of 3 times. Ajax is back on top, and with the new stadium "Amsterdam Arena", the future is promising. In the two following years he was beaten in the Europa Cup for national champion by Juventus, in final in the 1996 and semi-final in 1997. In 1997 Luois Van Gaal brings in another championship, his successor is Morten Olsen. Another age is started?