My life is mostly about football. As a kid I did probably dream about being a professional player later. Who wasn’t? Very soon I realized that such a career was out of my league. I did play for many years though. The 3rd half was mostly the better one. Drinking a beer with the guys and talking about the game. No worries, happy days.
The magical moment
Years before that I realized that it wasn’t the playing part of the game I loved so much. When my father took me out to a real football stadium for the first time it was clear that this was where I would be happy. Very happy. The atmosphere was phenomenal when AZ’67 played Ipswich Town at home in Alkmaar in September 1978 for the Cup Winners Cup.
I was 12 years old. And touched by the singing fans in the stadium. It never let go. AZ’67 (now AZ Alkmaar) had a fan for life. And this certainly was something I want more.
I read the book Soccer Tribes of Desmond Morris and was fascinated by the stories of football clubs and their supporters.
Traveling around Europe
Since then I must have seen a lot of matches and stadiums. I have traveled to many stadiums in Holland to follow AZ. I traveled to England, to Germany, to Belgium and France.
I visited Euro ’88 to see Holland beat Ireland (yes I know Willem Kieft scored off side) and watched Holland at the 2006 World Cup in Stuttgart. Great memories. The results weren’t important. The experience and the memories were.
Our last trip to Schalke ’04 was fantastic. Standing on the terraces of the Veltins Arena and watch the game from the Nordkurve was a great experience. Unbelievable. What a noise. What a great game it was. You have to be there to understand.
My love for English football
Besides being a club member and supporter of Dutch non league club Fortuna Wormerveer I support AZ Alkmaar. At home were watching a lot of football. Dutch and English football mostly. I follow Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham Utd with more than common interest.
My role as tournament director of the Fortuna Wormerveer International Youth Tournament brought me in contact with Tottenham Hotspur. We’ve been there in October and visited the Spurs – Newcastle Utd match. On Saturday we were invited to see the new Spurs training ground. Fantastic. Later that day we watched Brentford playing Staines Town for the FA Cup. We had a great time.
I realized that London and football was the perfect combination for me. I enjoyed the matches, the fans, the atmosphere. I follow and have been to West Ham (phenomenal crowd and support when I visited the Boleyn Ground), Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Wimbledon (early days), Queens Park Rangers, Brentford…
The Arsenal connection
Lately I noticed that Arsenal keeps coming back into my life. My father take me to London at the age of 15 or 16. I remember having a stadium tour and being photographed with Paul Mariner. I have visited Highbury 3 times. I’ve been to their new stadium in the aay section. AZ Alkmaar did manage to reach the Champions League. And luckily the have been in the same group as Arsenal. It was a great trip to remember.
Besides my Arsenal link the Gunners name keeps coming back in the family. Our eldest son is an Arsenal fan since I can remember. I am glad he is also a season ticket holder for AZ Alkmaar, but his 2nd club is Arsenal since Robin van Persie played in London. As a member of the AZ Alkmaar’s kids club he – and his younger brother – was lucky for being selected as the player escort when Arsenal played the first match in the new AZ Alkmaar stadium in 2006. What a moment to remember. To make the day ‘complete’, he was walking with his favorite player van Persie.
Our youngest son did visit the Arsenal stadium last September during their school trip to London. Although he is supporting Man Utd for years now, he was excited being in the Emirates stadium and having a guided stadium tour.
26kits.com: football kits and the fan culture
So you know about my life and love for football the fans and the magic of being around in stadiums and watch matches with fans that care about their club. Their passion. Their life.
In 2012 the idea came up to blog about football kits and the fan culture. About the name: 26 is my lucky number, the kits part is evident for what I am writing about. It’s difficult to find a balance between commercial usage and the real fan culture. I am aware that I am not the only one that struggles with that balance. Federations, clubs, players, football brands. They’re all in a rat race to survive. Money is the big and dirty word.
The nouveau riche is taking over football. Fans realize that running a football business takes commercial efforts to stay competitive. But not all clubs do respect their fans in the race to a moment of fame for the club owner.
Against modern football: finding the balance to survive
That’s why football needs movements like ‘against modern football’. Clubs have to realize that fans are the only reason that clubs exist. I hope the football world will find their balance. Running a club with a stable and financial healthy fundament and still cherish their loyal fans.
The supporters that are the key of their existence.
Inspire others. And enjoy.