Get ready for a Haarlem trilogy and a serious piece of history. And maybe you'll get a little confused as hell. But we wouldn't be Pitch'd if we didn't at least try to make it a wonderful reading for you.
August 31st 2019 Koninklijke HFC hosted the Pioneers Cup, a tournament with teams that are member of the Club Of Pioneers. A tournament in a stadium just perfect for our sore oldschool groundhopper heart. We won't immediately elaborate on the Club Of Pioneers itself. For this we would like to advertise for Catenaccio Magazine. ;-) But instead we will show our love and respect for Koninklijke HFC. And always use the "Koninklijke". As the three known teams in Haarlem all have the abbreviation HFC in their name.
Let's go back to 1879, 140 years back into time. Pim Mulier created together with a couple of other Dutchies the Haarlemsche Football Club (HFC). We all know that the English cultivated football (mark our words - they didn't invent it) and in the 19th century they brought football and their other sports all around the world with them. That's also the reason why most countries and first teams were created by British people. This is not the case in The Netherlands and Haarlem. In the beginning HFC played the games according to rugby rules, but switched to FA rules in 1883.
Their first pitch was in the current Frederikspark and was oldschool as hell - it contained three trees and players had to play around it. In 1899 HFC moved to their ground in the Spanjaardslaan, where they currently still play, 120 years after having moved there. Just before that, in 1888, The Netherlands started with competition football. HFC was part of that league as well and managed to win it in 1890, 1893 and 1895. Unfortunately the competition only became an official competition as of 1898. HFC also won the first Dutch cups a couple of times.
As the competition evolved and became more and more professional, HFC decided voluntarily to remain an amateur team. Completely according to the ground rules of the team itself. Due to that we will never see the team in first or second division in The Netherlands, but it does play in the next highest division there is. This is the "Tweede Divisie", the highest amateur league and the third division in the pyramid system in The Netherlands.
Their ground at the Spanjaardslaan hosted friendly games between The Netherlands and Belgium twice. Lately it hosts more friendly tournaments that involve "oldest teams". While we were there there were actually two tournaments at the same time going on; the Pioneers Cup and the ONEC Cup. We were completely blown away by the charm and historical feeling of the stadium and these other little details. Unfortunately the current grandstand is one built during the 70s after the original wooden grandstand was set on fire. Along with that original grandstand, the beautiful and massive terracing on the other side of the field was demolished. The stadium is facing a new renovation as pretty soon everything you see now will be demolished and will make way for a modern stadium.
In 1959 HFC became Koninklijke HFC (thanks for that - as the other HFCs made it difficult to distinguish who's who) and this is very rare in The Netherlands. Only a handful of teams received this recognition and the team takes great proud in this. And with good reason. Koninklijke HFC understands and realizes the role it has played for Dutch football, the beautiful stadium they have and they understand the basic rule of football. Football is for fans and teams need to keep their volunteers close to them. Without them a team will never survive. A great credo from "The Good Old"!