Stadium De Meer: There they heard angels sing
Old soccer stadium of Amsterdam Football Club Ajax (now demolished)
More: a cozy stadium world. Arena may well be impressive, but many Ajax fans – and football fans in general – longing to return to their old spot. The story behind a glorious piece of Amsterdam.
On March 18, 1900 saw a new Amsterdam football club born: the Amsterdam Football Club Ajax. Until 1911 the team played its matches on a field in North Amsterdam, but moved that same year to the small Wood Stadium. After Ajax in the thirties went through its first successful period (five national titles), the stadium was too small and had to be diverted there to larger premises.
“A beautiful house in a large garden”
The first post of the new stadium De Meer was beaten on April 21, 1934, just eight months before the first match was played against the French Stade Francais. The stadium takes its name from its location in the Watergraafsmeer, which was annexed to the city of Amsterdam in 1921. Architect Daan Roodenburg designed the stadium following the guidelines of the New Hague School, characterized by clean lines and solid construction. The four concrete stands after, the stadium was built entirely of brick. For the interior Roodenburg was inspired by the Modern Movement, with its emphasis on openness, simplicity and the symbiosis between art and technology. Unique to the time the luxurious gym which was incorporated into the main house. Roodenburgh described his design as “a nice house in a large garden.
Golden times with a black edge
Ajax wrong by the economic crisis of the thirties in heavy weather. The club had only 250,000 guilders in cash, while the new stadium cost only 300,000 guilders. Fortunately for Ajax were club debts even when condoned and the club could survive. While visitor numbers doubled during the occupation years were great successes. Between 1939 and 1956 could in the first league title but more are celebrated, namely in 1947.
Gods Sons conquer the world
The second period of success Ajax in the Lake was inaugurated in the sixties with the arrival of some illustrious names like Sjaak Swart Piet Keizer and Johan Cruyff of course. On the training fields around the Lake coach Rinus Michels was working on a new system that would conquer the whole world within a few years; the Total Football. He found in the 17-year-old Cruyff the ideal player to put his theories into practice. Between 1965 and 1973, Ajax won six league titles, once the World Cup and no less than three times in a row the European Cup I. For major international competitions proved the more small, however, and was diverted to the larger Olympic Stadium. Meanwhile, the capacity of the stadium was expanded to approximately 29,500 spectators, there lampposts were installed, the grandstands covered and got the more in 1985, the first Dutch stadium sky boxes.
At the end of the eighties, the safety capacity was again reduced to approximately 19,000 spectators. During the eighties, the great international success to an end, but the atmosphere in The More Things were less. At the same time it was a very turbulent period. By staafincident (an Austrian player was by an iron bar hit in the back) miss European football during the match against Austria Wien in 1989, the audience in the more needed the following year. A launder affair threw a spanner in the works. Yet the eighties Ajax marked the gradual return to the international summit (European Cup II in 1987) and made a new gods son furore in the lake: Marco van Basten.
Return to top
The rise of the club since the late eighties continued through under the guidance of coach Louis van Gaal in the nineties. A new generation of talented young players broke through and gave Ajax a new period of world dominance. In 1995, the young team won the league title, the KNVB Cup, the Champions League, the World Cup and the Supercup. The following year, Ajax was again in the final of the Champions League, but lost after Juventus on penalties. Meanwhile the knot on a new stadium was severed; More was no longer sufficient to house the club. In the Bijlmer was built on a new multi-purpose stadium, the Amsterdam Arena.
On April 28, 1996 was the more for the last time the scene of an Ajax match and made way for the Amsterdam Arena. Soon after the move was wistfully at the crowd thought back in the Watergraafsmeer. This was partly due to the lack of success and the lack of intimate atmosphere that characterized the more so for decades. Since moving four times, Ajax has lost as many home games as during the years in the Lake. During the whole period in the more Ajax have lost only one home match without scoring himself, while this has become an annual event in the Arena.
Even seventeen years after the demolition speaks the more still to the imagination and is the colossal Amsterdam Arena, in the minds of many fans, still in the shadow of its smaller but illustrious predecessor.