ADO Den Haag have now relaunched their own official fan club with the new name “Haagsche Bluf”. The new man voted in as chairman is Jacco van Leeuwen.The 46 year supporter has been watching his beloved since October 4th 1980, when he saw ADO beat Ajax 4-3 in the old Zuiderpark stadium.
“After a game like that you are hooked, you fall in love with the club. I started to attend every home game after that, I was too young to travel to away games until 1985. My first away match was a 0-0 draw at Wageningen on the 23rd May. I loved to travel with the other supporters, it was an exciting time. The next season ADO were promoted to the Eredivisie (Premier league) as an unbeaten side. A total of twenty six wins and ten draws. It was a very good time to be a supporter of ADO. That season we travelled in large numbers, we filled the away end every game.”
As Jacco remembered the good times of that first full season as a fan with a big smile on his face, he pointed at the large black & white pictures on the walls off the Ooievaar restaurant and pointed out his favourites Karel Bouwens and Remco Boere.
During that period of the 80’s, Holland as with every country suffered with major problems caused by hooliganism. Den Haag had a very bad name for trouble at that time and Jacco witnessed numerous fights and other unsavoury incidents, it was all part and parcel of football across Europe at that time.
Now on to the present day. Why did Jacco put himself forward as chairman of the new supporters club?
“I have always loved and been able to organize things. I love doing that, so now I thought it would be good if I could do something for my club. I am part of the OGS, a discussion group of different supporters from all different parts of the stadium. I attended meetings with other supporters and the then chairman of the club. I am part of that for about ten years.
When the club moved to its new stadium, we started an unofficial fan club, the LSU (Long Side United.) This was because at the time the club did not want the traditional Midden Noord stand to exist, because of its old reputation. The club wanted to put us all behind the one goal. This was something the fans did not want. After some fan actions the fans were again able to go to their traditional side. So some stayed and now the club has to parts of the stadium making good atmosphere. Us on the Midden Noord and Fan Support, who have been going for almost twelve years.
At that time ADO were in a lot of financial difficulties and the club almost died. A new director came in, John Arzbach took over and things began to change. Then I saw what could happen if the club and its supporters actually worked together. It showed me that united we could make positive things happen. He spoke to the fans like they were normal people and not like criminals. I think he does not get the credit he deserves, many of us still talk about him and are thankful to him and without him we would have no supporters home, we all owe him a lot.”
So with all the changes towards helping the supporters to feel more a part of the club, what was the reasoning behind the rebranding of the supporters club?
“The previous chairman of the supporters club, Dennis de Bruijn decided to quit for various reasons and it was thought that the official supporters club would then close. At that point a few supporters, including myself got together, realising that it was important to keep an official supporters club and a real connection to ADO. So a few months ago we made a presentation to the CEO Maarten Fontein and he agreed that we must keep an official club for supporters. So we made proposals and voted on a new board for the club. It was all done very quickly. So within six weeks we were up and running, they wanted it to coincide with the 110 year anniversary, but that just was not possible. It would have been nice, but it wasn’t to be. So we are now working unofficially as the official supporters club, but very soon the statutes will be delivered to the notary and it will be then 100% legally up and running.
We are a group of seven people, all with ADO in their hearts. I was voted chairman, the vice chairman is Jean Paul Mallant. The secretary is Maureen de Vries. Club treasurer is Ruud Albrecht. There are also three other board members, these are Diego de Jong, Hans van de Pol and Gerard Dekker Kleijn. All who have supported ADO for a long time.
I want people to know that this supporters club is for every single supporter. There are the two major groups in the stadium who both do a great job with atmosphere and the making of banners and their own merchandise. These are the Midden Noord and Fan Support. I invited them to join us and to have representatives on our board of members, which they have done. I want them to continue their own actions. I want them to move on with keep their own identities, they are fantastic at what they do, but it is important that we can talk sometimes and come up with fresh ideas. We have great supporters and we want to be as one with the club.
I have a dream, remember this is my own dream, not from the fan club. What I would like to see in the future is the return of a standing area on the Midden Noord, somewhere all the fans who want to create an atmosphere can stand together. As before I want to see the prices for behind the goal and along the Midden Noord to be the same price. At this time it is cheaper to go onto Vak G, so people will stay there for that reason, if prices matched, then this could happen. It is my personal dream that we could go back to how it was in the old Zuiderpark stadium, where we were all together as one group. So for me a standing area is important, for every two seats now, you can have three people in there instead. There are other clubs with standing areas in Holland already. Also remember, we have the safest stadium there is. Something the club is proud to tell everybody, so why not take another step forward? Read HERE about the safety at ADO.”
Jacco admits he is thinking of the good old days in ADO’s former home and knows that you cannot live in the past, but live for now and the future. He was a fan of the 80’s and loved those times. Now for him, getting a similar atmosphere back into the new stadium would be an ideal situation. Yet their are still hurdles to get over to get what he feels would be the perfect situation.
“I believe everybody at the club wants the same thing, we need to make the supporters feel welcome in the stadium. Yet in December after the home game against Excelsior there was something that really irritated me, so much so that I wrote an article about it. The fans of Excelsior are a good crowd, never any problems and never bring many fans. Yet after the game you thought the whole stadium had been picked up and dropped back down in a war zone. People came out and only saw policemen, police cars and vans plus police on horseback, why? It gives new supporters a bad idea of the club. A father brings his son, they are confronted by so many police, the father turns around and goes home, two fans lost to the club for a few years. I understand all the police when the visitors are Feyenoord or FC Utrecht who bring large numbers. But for games like Excelsior, it is a bad thing. If they want the police in the area in case of emergencies, there are plenty of industrial areas where they can wait, out of sight of the fans, make the club far more fan friendly. All that is needed is maybe two officers on each corner to assist people, nothing more. It would be great to make the stadium feel safe as you approach it. The police presence is very off putting to many.
You must know that ADO supporters are now allowed to travel to away games by car, I think 13 or 14 times this season, this was never possible before. It again shows that we are not a riot club. We are trusted to travel and behave, all of which it good for us.”
So where does Jacco see the supporters club in a years time?
“I want the Haagsche Bluf to be seen as a good partner for the football club. The slogan of “ADO together as one” is one I want to see work. I want it to be seen that we are helping to attract more paying spectators into our stadium. I want every match, both home and away to be a party. Since the arrival of the new owner, Mr Wang, you can see there is already improvement in the atmosphere at games since FC Twente at home. The colour and noise has been good, three home games have been full of passion, the players love it. Also the one away game at Dordrecht, the fans filled the away end and made a good atmosphere. It is all a good sign we are going in the right direction.”
Jacco comes across as ultra enthusiastic about his new role. Before the kick-off against PEC Zwolle, Jacco was being interviewed for TV about the supporters club. Then on the centre circle. The new supporters club logo was unveiled and the designers and artist were presented with the 110th anniversary shirt as a prize and thank you. So it is now all go for the seven member of the board.
I wish to thank Jacco for sparing his spare time with me to talk about a subject close to his heart. I wish you much success.