In the shadows of PSV – Eindhoven’s other club
Kevin Nolan is a sportswriter who has been published on ItalianFootballDaily.com and TheseFootballTimes.net.
They all come from different countries, backgrounds and cultures, but one thing binds them together. Torino, Espanyol, 1860 Munich and Paris FC have illustrious histories of their own, yet they are forever known as their city’s second club.
Founded on the 16th November 1909, four years before PSV, FC Eindhoven have always been the runt of the family. For over 100 years the Blauw-Witten (Blue-Whites), as they are affectionately known, have watched on as there neighbours grew into a powerhouse of the Dutch game.
The club, first called EVV (Eindhovense Voetbal Vereniging) came about as a result of a merger between two fellow Eindhoven clubs, Sparta Eindhoven and Eindhovia. The side, based in the Alsterweg area of the city, started out in the local regional divisions before beginning a steady march up the Dutch league system.
Two years after the foundation of PSV in 1913, the club had made its way to the second tier. Eight years later, on the 11th June 1921, EVV took another step on their evolution as a club merging again this time with Sparta Gestel. It would prove to be a smart move as the now titled EVV Eindhoven stormed into the first division.
The club were not long in making an impact, soon earning the nickname “De Schrik van het zuiden” (the scare of the south) as a result of their prowess. In 1937 EVV took their first major honour when they were crowned KNVB Beker winners, beating De Spartaan 1-0 in the final in Amsterdam – a full 13 years before PSV would claim the trophy for the first time.
Despite the turbulent effects of World War II and the Nazi occupation, the 1940’s and then the 1950’s would prove to be a magical era in the history of FC Eindhoven, as they regularly contended at the top end of the table. It was also at this time that the derby against PSV came to prominence and in turn reached the zenith of its importance.
It was probably the only time in their 106 year history that FCE were on a level par or possibly had the slight edge on their rivals. In the 1952-53 season the side came within a whisker of the title. After topping there Eerste Klasse, FCE entered the four team championship play-off.
The top flight of the time varied widely compared to the Eredivisie today. Back then the league was split into four different groups with the winner of each group then being placed in a four team Championship play-off to decide that year’s winners.
After the long hard slog of the campaign it all came down to a one-on-one fixture against Racing Club Heemstede. Sadly for FCE, it would prove not to be, as the Heemstede side beat them in extra time and in turn topped the group by virtue of their better head-to-head record. However the Blauw-Witten wouldn’t have to wait long for another shot and this time they’d take it.
The following year they once again topped the Eerste Klasse D and entered the championship play-off. Where they were joined by none other than PSV, plus two sides by the name of DOS and DWS. This wasn’t PSV’s time to shine however and three wins and two draws in six matches handed FCE the title. To this day it is their only top flight league win.
The next season saw the introduction of professional football to the Netherlands. Initially the club carried on where they left off in the amateur era. They finished first in their division once more, only this time they failed to sparkle and ended bottom of the championship play-off group.
The rigors of the professional game would, however, prove too strenuous and in 1957 the club were relegated. The slide continued in 1969 when they went down again. Their stay in the third tier was short and under the guidance of English man Lesly Talbot they won promotion in 1971.
By 1975 they were in the Eredivisie. It wasn’t to last, though, and two seasons later they were back playing in the second tier. Nearly 40 years on and that is still where they reside. Naturally with PSV piling on the success in this timeframe and FCE stuck at a lower level, the rivalry in the city has evaporated to an almost inconsequential level.
By the early 2000s, the rivalry had decreased to such that FC Eindhoven and PSV had even entered into a cooperation agreement. In the present day, the former’s main rival is no longer seen as the Eredivisie giants, but nearby Helmond Sport.
In 1994 the club moved into their current home the cosy 4,600 capacity Jan Louwers Stadion. The stadiums name was in honour of Louwers, a local lad who represented both Eindhoven clubs throughout his career, but is particularly revered by FCE.
Louwers was part of the side that was crowned champions back in ’54, alongside Noud van Melis, Frans Tebak and Dick Snoek the only three players to represent the club and Oranje. Louwers himself not only showed talent for football but also the acumen of a crafty businessman. Post football he turned his wholesale business into a multi-million euro company.
In recent times the club has suffered financially like so many others in the country and by 2009, their centenary year, they were staring into the abyss. The days as a professional outfit seemed numbered and if it was up to the Dutch FA they would have quit the league the year before due to the financial mess.
However, after a screw up in procedures at a bureaucratic level and Trojan work by then club president Ed Creemers saved them from disappearing. Creemers, who uniquely never went anywhere without wearing a hat, remained on as the chief until only 2010, but the relentless work he put in over a two year spell has earned him the gratitude of the supporters forevermore.
Now, the club sit a healthy third in the Eerste Divisie as the second half of the season begins, with a new assault for promotion set to begin – not bad going for a club working on a budget that a top PSV player would earn in a single year.
It must be difficult to live and be treated like a second class citizen in your own city. For 100 years and more FCE fans have endured this very thing all in the name of love.
They may never reach the heights and achieve what PSV have achieved. No, FC Eindhoven may forever live in the shadows, but they have their own story to tell.