N.E.C. (football club)
|Full name||Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie|
|Founded||November 15, 1900|
|Chairman||Ton van Gaalen|
|Manager||Jack de Gier|
|2017–18||Eerste Divisie, 3rd|
Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈnɛi̯meːɣə(n) ˈeːndrɑxt ˌkɔmbiˈnaː(t)si]), commonly abbreviated to N.E.C. [ˌɛneːˈseː], is a Dutch football club from the city of Nijmegen that currently plays in the Eerste Divisie.
The oldest remnants of the club, "Eendracht" (Dutch for unity), stem back to 15 November 1900. In 1910, Eendracht merged with Nijmegen to form the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie. The team's home ground is the 12,500-seat Stadion de Goffert.
- 1 History
- 2 Rivalries
- 3 European Cup appearances
- 4 Current squad
- 5 UEFA Current ranking
- 6 Former managers
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
N.E.C. (Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie or, in English, Nijmegen Unity Combination) is the 41st oldest club in the Netherlands. The first football club was founded by "ordinary" workers, 'real' people, and boys. Football was, in 1900, quite popular but elitist being played by the sons of wealthy industrialists, the middle class and other notables.
The founders of N.E.C. had a very different background to other Eredivisie clubs. They were, without exception, from the old Nijmegen Lower City, the place where the poorest people lived. It was not much more than a slum. The boys from this area played football every day, not on a field, but on the streets and the Waalkade.
Unusually, some of those boys on 15 November 1900 made a decision to form their own football club. They did it by themselves, without help from outside. They coined the name Eendracht and decided that every week a fee of two cents would be paid. With that money, a new ball could be purchased from time-to-time.
In the first years, Eendracht only played games against teams from other parts of Nijmegen. The ploeggie from the Lower City started to play good football. When in 1903, a Nijmegen Football Association was formed, Eendracht was the first champion and was promoted to the Geldersche Football Association. The football at Eendracht became a serious matter, especially two years later after promotion to the second class of the KNVB.
The name N.E.C. was established in April 1910. Eendracht merged that year with a club called Nijmegen. Nijmegen had been established for only two years and was founded by former members of Quick 1888 who felt little empathy with Quick regarded, at the time, as an elite club. The Nijmegen Eendracht Combination seemed a golden find.
Indeed, the leading figures in Nijmegen possibly looked down on N.E.C.
'Never first classer'
At the beginning of the 1920s, N.E.C. bought land and moved to Hazenkampseweg. Finally, the club had its own sports complex. On top of this, memberships increased rapidly and the club became more popular. However, despite a new home and increased membership, success on-field did not always follow. To achieve promotion into the first class competition, it was not enough in those years to just become champion of the second class. Stressful play-off matches were regularly played. Although N.E.C. became champion in 1928, 1929, 1931, and 1934, the club was not promoted. The club was mockingly titled: "Nooit eerste classer" (in English "Never first division"). Finally in 1936, N.E.C. took the last obstacle. They won the play-off matches and reached the First Class.
N.E.C. in 1939 won the first East title and fought for the Dutch title with four other district champions. N.E.C. came third, behind Ajax and DWS also from Amsterdam. During the War, little football was played, but after liberation, N.E.C. resumed competition and again became the champion of the East in 1946. In 1947, N.E.C. retained the title and again became the third-most successful club in the Netherlands.
For N.E.C., the introduction of professional football in 1954 came at the wrong time. The club had internal problems at the time, was not as well established as other clubs, and was not doing well financially. More than 80 'paying' clubs were called together and the KNVB reorganised their structure. Each time the competitions were classified, N.E.C. fell further from the top leagues. At the 11th hour, N.E.C. was saved from a return to the amateurs.
At the beginning of the 1960s, N.E.C. began to recover, growing slowly again. A major reason was support from the City of Nijmegen who began to see the importance of a 'paid' club like the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie. N.E.C. were given financial support in 1963. In 1964, N.E.C. was promoted to the first division again and three years later, reached the First League.
The ensuing years were ones that Nijmegen residents look back on nostalgically. The Goffert was full every game. Season averages of 14,000 spectators were normal. There was even a season (1970–71) in which N.E.C. had attendances of 18,000 a game. N.E.C. flourished, primarily on the back of great youth development and scouting.
Talented players were developed, played in the first team and, after a number of seasons sold for high fees. Frans Thijssen and Jan Peters are two such examples. Although the club never won a major prize, it was well regarded at this time.
However, the first signs of decline came quickly. N.E.C. was not sustainable with its only major revenue sources being the sale of players and a healthy subsidy from the Nijmegen council.
Relegation in 1974 was a warning and although N.E.C. were promoted a year later eventually finishing seventh, the club trajectory was heading the wrong way. Each year, the team fought against relegation and fewer spectators watched their matches. During this period, N.E.C. ended every season as either a top club in the first division or a bottom club in the major league. In little over a decade, they changed leagues six times: relegation in 1983, promotion in 1985, relegation in 1986, promotion in 1989, relegation in 1991, and finally promotion in 1994. N.E.C. suffered many difficult years and disappeared almost from professional football from time-to-time. In 1981, the club were given support from the town when the professionals and amateurs separated. In 1987, the club was declared bankrupt, but N.E.C. remained existent only because 80% of creditors waived their claims.
Chairman Henk van de Water formed a sponsor's club OSRN which started to gather momentum. In the mid-1990s, N.E.C. was on the way up again. In 1995, the club clung on to a place in the Eredivisie by the skin of its teeth, but in 1998, surprised many with an eighth-place finish. Their prospects had improved. Attendance numbers rose continuously, all the way up to 10,000. The sponsors' club prospered and there was a nice future ahead in the new Goffertstadion.
N.E.C. has reached the KNVB Cup Final four times. On two occasions N.E.C. were underdogs, but on 31 May 1973, the club was overwhelming favorite. At De Kuip against NAC Breda, it however, went completely wrong for the Nijmegen club. N.E.C., with coach Wiel Coerver and players of the quality of Jan Peters, Frans Thijssen, Harrie Schellekens, Jan van Deinsen, and Cas Janssens, were unable to live up to expectations. Infighting was cited as a major cause of under-performance, with NAC Breda winning 2–0.
In 1983, N.E.C. unexpectedly reached the Cup Final despite having been relegated that season. Opponents Ajax, were in both matches clearly better, twice winning 3–1.
In 1994, N.E.C. was again in the final. It was a first-division club at the time, but a very good team. A month after the cup, they were promoted via the promotion/relegation play-offs. N.E.C., with players of the ilk of Lok, Hoekman, van Wonderen, van der Weerden, and the lightning-quick Bennie Dekker, surprised in the semi-finals. Ajax were beaten in De Meer 2–1. In De Kuip at Feyenoord, Feyenoord won 2–1.
In the club's 100th year (2000), N.E.C. again reached the Cup Final. The competition presentations were not too good and hardly participation at the promotion/relegation play-offs was averted. The final against Roda JC Kerkrade for the 20,000 fans from Nijmegen was more or less a disappointment. N.E.C. lost with no scoring chances 2–0. The semi-finals (progressing after penalties against AZ) were a highlight for many fans.
Nijmegen play in European Cup
In 1983, during the darkest period of the club's history, there was also a highlight in club's the history. N.E.C. played in the European Cup against Barcelona, while N.E.C. was mid-ranked in the First Division.
In the Spring, N.E.C. lost the cup-final against Ajax and were also relegated to the First Division. But because the Amsterdammers also became champion of the Netherlands, N.E.C. made the unique fact that a First Division club was registered for the Eurocup II tournament; this performance was never repeated in the Netherlands.
In the first round of the European tournament, N.E.C. defeated Norway's Brann. The club was a relative minnow, but N.E.C. had problems defeating the club from Norway. In Nijmegen, it finished 1–1 and two weeks later in Bergen, Michel Mommertz scored the winner (0–1).
A few days later, the draw was completed for the second round. The city of Nijmegen eagerly anticipated the fixture and were not disappointed when Barcelona, the club that had world superstars Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster, were coming to Nijmegen. Both star players were injured by 19 October and did not take part in the games. But this was no big disappointment for the 25,000 spectators in the Goffertstadion. N.E.C. took the lead with strikes from Anton Janssen and Michel Mommertz. However, Barcelona hit back eventually winning 3–2. The second leg in Barcelona, was an easy game for the Catalans, ending in a 2–0 win for the home team.
29 May 2003 was a historic day for the club. For the first time in its existence N.E.C. qualified on their own for the UEFA Cup. Following a late strike from Jarda Simr, N.E.C. finished fifth in the Eredivisie. This led to unprecedented scenes with jubilant fans invading the Waalwijk pitch. Back in Nijmegen, there was an explosion of joy with over 5,000 supporters in the Goffert watching the game on a large video screen. Similar scenes happened in the centre of Nijmegen with over 25,000 people celebrating.
In 2008, N.E.C. qualified for the third time in its history for European competition. With this, Mario Been followed in the footsteps of former-coach Johan Neeskens. After a disappointing first half of the year, the club was 17th place. But after the winter break, there was a remarkable turnaround. From January 2008, N.E.C. played terrific football and scored many goals. Victory after victory resulted in an excellent eighth place in the Eredivisie. This position was rewarded by participation in the UEFA Cup play-offs. N.E.C. was also superior in the play-offs beating Roda JC Kerkrade, FC Groningen, and NAC Breda. With 31 undefeated matches in a row and with a 6–0 home victory at NAC Breda the highlight, N.E.C. reached European football again. The return match at Breda was a formality, but the team was also victorious. What followed was a great homage to many thousands of fans on the Goffertwei.
The year became even more successful following early rounds of the UEFA Cup. In the first round, the club defeated Dinamo Bucureşti in two heart-stopping matches. After a 1–0 winning home game, N.E.C drew 0–0 in Romania to reach the group-stage. It was then drawn against larger European clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Udinese, Spartak Moscow, and Dinamo Zagreb. All the experts gave the club little chance of reaching the next round, but N.E.C. defied the odds. After a stunning match against Zagreb, with a goal from Dinamo in the last minute, there stood a disappointing 3–2 on the scoreboard. N.E.C. were perhaps the better team but gained no points. After this, English team Tottenham came to the McDOS Goffertstadion and won 0–1. Nijmegen was on the bottom of the pool and was almost out of the tournament. But there was hope in the Netherlands after a 1–2 victory against Spartak Moscow in Russia with a very important goal from Lasse Schöne. N.E.C. played its last match in Nijmegen against Udinese. To go to the next round, N.E.C. and Tottenham had to win (from Spartak Moscow). Tottenham were behind and after 45 minutes, while there was a disappointing 0–0 on the scoreboard in Nijmegen. But in the 74th minute, there was a sensational moment: Tottenham scored twice to eventually draw 2–2 against Spartak and Collins John almost simultaneously scored to make the score 1–0 for N.E.C. With a second goal from Jhon van Beukering (his third European goal of the season), N.E.C reached the next round.
The last 32 draw of the UEFA Cup saw N.E.C. fixtured to play against big German club Hamburger SV. The fairy tale ended for the club when the Germans won 0–3 in the Goffertstadion and 1–0 in Hamburg. However, the progression into the last 32 capped off the most successful year in the club's history. N.E.C. was lauded for their terrific football and their sociability. Supporters were complimented in Europe, especially by Franz Beckenbauer, who said he had never witnessed such great ambiance from away-supporters and that Premier League clubs had never seen so many away-fans at a club-match (4,500).
Relegation and return
At the end of the 2013–14 season, N.E.C. prevented direct relegation by holding Ajax to a 2–2 draw in Amsterdam on the last matchday with a brace from Alireza Jahanbakhsh. However, in the following relegation play-offs, N.E.C. lost 4–1 on aggregate to Eerste Divisie's 16th placed Sparta Rotterdam and again relegated to the second tier of Dutch football for the first time in 20 years. They bounced back however on the first attempt after beating Sparta 1–0 on 3 April 2015 to clinch the Eerste Divisie title with six games left. On 28 May 2018, NEC relegated again after two years in the Eredivisie after losing 5-1 on aggregate against NAC Breda 
Vitesse from Arnhem are N.E.C.'s archrivals. The two clubs share a long history together and matches between the two clubs are called the Gelderse Derby (Derby of Gelderland). The rivalry is not only between the two teams, but also a confrontation between the two largest cities of the province of Gelderland, Arnhem and Nijmegen, two cities with major differences in attitude and culture. Since 1813, Arnhem has been the capital of Gelderland, and is historically based on finance and trade. Arnhem is perceived as an office city with modern buildings. Nijmegen, on the other hand, is predominantly a workers' city, with middle and high-income groups in the minority. People from Nijmegen see Arnhem as arrogant and lazy. The two cities are just 24 kilometres apart, resulting in an intense cross-town rivalry. The meeting between the two teams is still considered to be one of the biggest matches of the season.
De Graafschap are also a rival of N.E.C., but these matches are not as loaded with the tension and rivalry of those with Vitesse.
European Cup appearances
|1983–84||Cup Winners' Cup||1. Round||Brann||1–1||1–0||2–1|
|2003–04||UEFA Cup||1. Round||Wisła Kraków||1–2||1–2||2–4|
|2008–09||UEFA Cup||1. Round||Dinamo Bucharest||1–0||0–0||1–0|
|3. Round||Hamburger SV||0–3||0–1||0–4|
- As of 30 August 2018
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
UEFA Current ranking
- As of 26 April 2013
- "History at official N.E.C. website". N.E.C.] Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- "Franz Beckenbauer about great ambiance N.E.C. Supporters". De Trouwe Honden. 2009-03-17.
- "NEC face play-off, Roda relegated". FIFA.com. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- NEC in één jaar van hel naar hemel – AD (in Dutch)
- "Selectie N.E.C. Nijmegen". www.nec-nijmegen.nl. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- UEFA Club Coefficients – UEFA.com
- "Managers". N.E.C. Nijmegen. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
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