In Dutch Football… What’s In A Name?

If you start thinking about all the European club names that you know of you’ll soon realise that the origin of names of these clubs is fairly uninteresting.  That is to say that they follow pretty much a similar pattern, in that more often than not a club is named after the locality of which it originated ie Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Marseilles etc.  This is done to create a sense of tribalism of the inhabitants of that locality towards their ‘local’ side.  Naturally there are exceptions to this rule and some clubs have some originality, due to an historical aspect, in their names ie Arsenal, Celtic, Everton.  There is one nation, though, wherein considerable thought is given to the naming of its football clubs and that nation is the Netherlands. Rogier Waalder discusses…

It is very uncommon to find a football club in the Netherlands that is simply just named after its locality ie Heerenveen, FC Utrecht, FC Groningen.  When you start to look down the football pyramid of Dutch clubs you’ll soon realise though that there are a few different trends that have taken place when it comes to naming a club.


The first noticeable aspect of Dutch football club names is that there are a LOT of abbreviated names ie PSV, NEC, NAC etc but this doesn’t tell the whole story as you need to delve deeper into what each letter in the abbreviated name stands for.

Association Name

A lot of abbreviated club names simply are acronyms for the sporting association that the football club belongs to, and a big clue here is the presence of a ‘V’ in the name.  The V will often stand for Vereniging (Association) as in the following examples:

PSV – Philips Sporting Vereniging – the club was originally founded for employees of Philips Electrical

VVV – Venlo Voetbal Vereniging

MVV – Maastricht Voetbal Vereniging

Some clubs will even add the name of the main day that the club plays on ie AZSV – Aaltense Zaterdag Sport Vereniging (The Saturday Sporting Association of Aalten)

Religious Names

A lot of football clubs in the Netherlands were founded by churches, and in fact the lower divisions of Dutch football is still divided into Saturday (Protestant) and Sunday (Catholic) leagues.  It’s no surprise then that there are some religious based names appearing in the Dutch football pyramid:

RKC – Rooms-Katholieke Combinatie (Roman Catholic Combination)

ACV – Asser Christelijke Voetbalvereniging (Christian Football Association of Assen)

In fact there are a whole heap of clubs whose name start with RK, which is a fairly good indicator that they are a club with Catholic foundations.


Who doesn’t like a bit of mythology and certain Dutch football club founders did and hence there are quite a few names of mythical persuasion i.e.

Hercules, Alcides and Heracles (named after the Greek hero of strength Hercules)

Ajax (named after the Greek hero of the same name)

Sparta (after the gladiator Spartacus)

Achilles (there are several clubs named after this Greek hero)

Olympia (there are also several clubs named after the site of the original Olympics)


For the acronymic club names that don’t into the Association category the other category is those with somewhat Inspirational names as their club name.  Not sure what I mean by Inspirational then try these:

PEC Zwolle  – Prins Hendrik Ende Desespereert Nimmer – ‘And Never Despair’

ADO Den Haag – Alles Door Oefenen  – ‘Everything Through Practice’

DVS 33 – Door Vereniging Sterk – ‘Through Togetherness Strong’

DOSKO – Door Ons Samenspel Komt Overwinning – ‘Through us Playing together comes Victories’

SDC Putten – Sterk Door Combinatie – ‘Strong Through Combination’

EDO – Eendracht Doet Overwinnen – ‘Harmony means Victory’

Longa 30 – Lichamelijke Ontspanning Na Gedane Arbeid – ‘Physical Relaxation Comes After Hardwork’

Further on this theme is the numerous clubs with the term Excelsior (Latin for ‘higher’) in their club name.


The Dutch are renowned for their love of the colour Orange and this is no accident as it refers to William I of Orange who organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years’ War led to an independent Dutch state.  The name ‘Oranje’ therefore is very frequently used in Dutch football club names.

Just Plain Weird

Therefore are also some just plain weird club names, try these:

Go Ahead Eagles – The eagle being on the crest of their home city, Deventer

Telstar – named after a satellite!!

Pelikaan  – Pelican – there are actually 3 clubs in Holland with this name

Any name with the word ‘Quick’ in it ie Be Quick, Quick Boys, Quick Steps.  Interestingly enough Go Ahead Eagles were originally slated to be called Quick but the Federation decreed that there were too many clubs with Quick in their name and hence Go Ahead was selected instead.

NAC Breda – NOAD-ADVENDO Combinatie NAC was founded when the two clubs ADVENDO and NOAD merged to one club. NOAD is a Dutch abbreviation for Nooit Ophouden, Altijd Doorgaan (Never give up, always persevere), while ADVENDO is a Dutch abbreviation for Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning (Pleasant for its entertainment and useful for its relaxation), the C stands for Combinatie (combination). The full name of NAC Breda expands to Nooit opgeven altijd doorgaan, Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning, Combinatie Breda  and hence is the longest football club name in the world

So let us all rejoice in the quirkiness that is the Dutch and marvel in their originality when naming their football clubs!


Click on Rogier’s name to follow him on Twitter.

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