The first professional football match I ever attended was on 19 August 1970. It was at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam between Feyenoord and FC Utrecht. The Feyenoord team was: Treytel, Romijn, Israel, Laseroms, Van Duivenbode, Hasil, Jansen, Van Hanegem, Wery, Kindval and Moulijn. The three big names were Rinus Israel, Wim Jansen and Willem van Hanagem. Feyenoord won 4-1.
I know that Utrecht were leading, I remember van Hanegem scoring a spectacular goal from, it appears, miles from the Utrecht goal. I remember the smell of tobacco on the terraces, I remember the smell of the beer, too. I remember being high in the stands, so high that the players looked like Subbuteo figures.
I was taken by my Uncle Koos, short for Jacobus. I remember going to the game on the tram, I remember going back to my grandmother’s house. I remember my uncle buying me a huge cone of chips which almost drowned under the weight of mayonnaise. To this day, I can recall the atmosphere at this game better than I can any game I have ever been to, and that includes the only Premier League game I have ever attended at Selhurst Park which finished Wimbledon 0 Tottenham 0. I wonder why that is.
It was on that day, Willem van Hanegem became my favourite player. He still is. He was built like Malcolm McDonald and was as hard as nails. He was also the best passer of a ball I have ever seen.
I wrote this as I watched a greatly diminished Feyenoord playing Utrecht on Sky TV in a horror of a game. It’s about time I went to the De Kuip again.