N.E.C. Nijmegen, a story about a historious rich club

October 16th, 2019

Georginio Bruinhard

With the international football break gone and forgotten – nobody likes it anyway - the Dutch success in the qualifier matches, and Champions League football back in business, football fans surely have an amazing time at the moment.

For those who already start finger-licking when seeing a football, we wrote an article about N.E.C. Nijmegen and its history. Especially for you.

Let’s start off with the name: ‘N.E.C.’ (pronounced as ‘N A Say’ stands for Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie’, which means ‘Nijmegen Unity Combination’. The reason I translated it so literally, is because N.E.C. didn’t always have the name it has now. It all started in the late 1800s: football was a popular sport in Nijmegen but was seen as a sport for the more prosperous individuals. Football ‘wasn’t meant to be played by the poor’. However, three guys from downtown Nijmegen, the poorest part of the city, decided this was no longer going to be the course of action, and on November 15, 1900 they founded ‘Eendracht’.
N.E.C. got its current name 10 years later, when a few football players from Quick – an (at that time) elite football club from Nijmegen – felt the need to establish their own football club, NVV Nijmegen. In April 1910 both NVV Nijmegen and Eendracht fused to the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie.

The first ten years of N.E.C. weren’t easy; because the members and supporters came from the least wealthy parts of town, N.E.C. lacked sufficient funding. Also, N.E.C. didn’t have their own training ground. This caused them to drop from the second-highest league to the lowest regional league. During the first world war, N.E.C. managed to finish second in the ‘emergency competition’ for three consecutive years. This was only possible because of diligent leadership by one of N.E.C.’s former founders, Guus Lodestijn. He even managed to realize growth for N.E.C., allowing them to create youth teams.

During the 1920s N.E.C. successfully acquired its own training ground, but the first year saw them welcoming only small groups of supporters. However, N.E.C. became the winner of the second league in the season of 1927/1928 by winning all of its 18 games with 82 goals scored. This impressive performance got them a lot of media attention but got overshadowed by the fact that they didn’t manage to make a promotion to the highest national league. They lost the promotion match, with the same scenario happening 3 times in the next 8 years to come. It was not until the season of 1935/1936 they promoted to the first league. Just in time to avoid the embarrassing nick-name ‘Nooit Eerste Classer’ --> never going to be in the first league.

The 40s were dark times for N.E.C., as two of the former founders passed away. Their playing ground served as a military base during the second world war, and after the war was over N.E.C. had to look for a new home. This became the Goffert stadium, the place N.E.C. calls home to this day. In the season of 1953/1954 Guus Lodestijn, who was mentioned before, unfortunately passed away as well. The good news during these years was that N.E.C. became a professional football club. Going pro was hard however, so performances were not as good as expected.

The 60s were highlighted by N.E.C. struggling to reach the first division again, and even to stay a professional football club. The KNVB, the national football association, issued a new rule which said that the bottom five clubs of the second division were becoming amateur clubs again. N.E.C. barely escaped from this verdict, by winning 1-0 in their final relegation battle. However, dark times seem to predict glory ages, as N.E.C. managed to promote to the Eredivisie, and even reached the cup final, only to lose from N.A.C. Breda. The absolute highlight of N.E.C.’s history must be the 1983/1984 season, where they played European football against no other team than FC Barcelona. Remember that this Barcelona team had Maradona playing in it. N.E.C. even took a 2-0 lead! N.E.C.’s further history can be described as fluctuating, highs and lows, relegations and amazing cup stories.

Currently, N.E.C. is playing in the first division, also called the KeukenKampioen division. While performances over the last few years could have been better, there is one upside to this: cheap tickets! Synergy organized one or two events where we visited a football match together, but you should feel free to do this yourself as well! Watch some nice football to blow off some steam, go on a date with your (almost) girl- or boyfriend, endless possibilities.

The Synergy Office is closed till the 1st of June. For more information, go to www.synergy.nu/coronavirus