Surrounded by Dordrecht, Gorinchem and Waalwijk in the south of The Netherlands, there is a nice piece of football history to be discovered. Officially in Altena - but local people will always consider it to be Werkendam - there is a team playing with the peculiar name of Kozakken Boys.
Right now the team is playing in second division (which is in fact the third level in the Dutch competition structure and the highest in non professional football), but the club has come a long way throughout its existence. For Kozakken Boys it all started in 1932 but Werkendam already saw football before that. During WWI soldiers that were stationed in Werkendam brought the game to the village. It would take until 1924 for the first clubs to be founded. WVV (Werkendamse Voetbal Vereniging) was the first, but DVO (Door Vrienden Opgericht - founded by friends), SOW (Samenspel Overwint Werkendam - team play wins Werkendam) and Excelsior quickly followed.
Unfortunately that many football teams weren't sustainable and DVO and WVV were the only ones which survived when Kozakken Boys were created in 1932. Originally the club name was SVW (Steeds Voorwaarts Werkendam - forever ahead Werkendam). But when the team wanted to move from the local FA in Brabant to the national Dutch FA in 1935, it was noticed there already was an SVW existing in the neighbouring Gorinchem. Therefore the name was changed into Kozakken Boys.
A peculiar name, even for a Dutch team. But where does it come from? What does it mean? It actually refers to a location where the original team used to play most of its games; a field next to the river Merwede. That river and more or less that particular place in Werkendam is said to be the place where the Cossacks crossed the river in 1813 during the Russian/French war in that period. A unique but lovely piece of history commemorated in a local team's name.
While Kozakken Boys were playing in the regional divisions in Brabant, WVV would cease all activities in 1939. A lot of WVV team members moved to Kozakken Boys and the latter became the only team in Werkendam. That's when the real stuff started. As of 1940, teams could promote from the local Brabant divisions to the national divisions and in 1945 that actually happened for Kozakken Boys. Apart from two years in third division, they would play in fourth division until 1955. Up until 1961, Kozakken Boys were in third division (apart from two years in second division).
That second division became a certitude in 1961 and it would be their home until 1970. Then a very long streak started in first division. Just to be clear, that first, second, third and fourth division were the amateur leagues. During the decades, the Dutch FA created more national amateur leagues and every time a league was created Kozakken Boys managed to move up. In 1996 the team promoted to the next level, the "Hoofdklasse". Recently the next steps were taken. In 2012 promotion to the "Topklasse" followed and in 2016 they promoted to second division; the official third division and at the same time the top amateur league in Holland.
This Sportpark de Zwaaier is a pretty new one, and it's the third place Kozakken Boys can call their home. From the start in 1932 right up until 1959 they played in the Kozakkenstoep, the famous place where the Cossacks crossed the river. The river did some payback as the pitch often was flooded. Between 1959 and 2001 they had the De Vierlaan to call their home, but since 2001 de Zwaaier is their new stadium. With Royston Drenthe they also have a huge name as former Kozak. Just recently he moved to the Spanish third division.
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