Memories of the Gotham Cup : LUSENET : Ajax USA : One Thread

BEST MOMENT: The late equalizer against Villa. But for that brief moment, the football from Ajax was pretty forgettable (I hope). I console myself that this was a training session more than a tournament, and Ajax achieved their aims by learning about their strengths and weaknesses as they prepare for the season. They certainly learned a lot about their defense. But do they have enough time to do anything about it?

Other best moment: Enjoying a cold beer and some excellent food courtesy of Alwin Schuller and friends, after the tournament was over. It was the first time I was truly relaxed all weekend.

WORST MOMENT: Coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel into a complete parking-lot of frozen traffic. I was the only person bound for Giants Stadium. The rest of the bus was occupied by revivalists on their way to the Benny Hinn salvation tour at the Meadowlands. I was sitting there, with several thousand dollars worth of tickets in my bag, and no clue as to whether we'd get there in time for the game. It was totally appropriate when the entire bus began singing salvation hymns. I was praying right along with them that the traffic would clear up. It did, eventually.

BIGGEST COMPLAINT: Why couldn't the Ajax players have made at least a nominal effort to greet the fans, especially the kids, who came to watch their training session at Rutgers on Saturday morning. There were only 20 or so people, half of them kids, who were obviously waiting at the railing for a few autographs. The players walked right by without so much as a wave. Eventually, everybody walked over toward the bus and were able to meet the last few players before they departed. It really wouldn't have been very difficult for them to come over, sign a few autographs, and pose for a few pictures. The only noteworthy exceptions were Wamberto, who happily and patiently signed autographs for anyone who asked, and Stanley Menzo, who autographed his goalkeeping gloves and then gave them to an 8 year old boy. Aron (Arie) Winters signed a few autographs, too, but he didn't seem too pleased about being asked. I don't think there's a valid excuse for such an attitude in that context.

LESSONS LEARNED: To Hell with t-shirts! ;-)

-- Anonymous, July 27, 1999


I'm soo stupid, it wasn't Riijkaard, it was Reizinger who was in our faces in Miami. I always confuse the two, I can't explain why--they don't even look alike. Sorry for the confusion.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000

This has nothing to do with the Gotham Cup, although it is a response to Jim's worst memories. I was able to see the U.S. Men's team get dominated by the Dutch footballers in Feb. of '98. It was a tune up before the upcoming world cup. The Netherlands won convincingly 2-0. After the game fans were waiting outside the stadium for autographs, although they gave me no autographs my friend was able to get one of the De Boer twins to sign his U.S. flag(along with much of the U.S. team). I was able to get a picture with Cobi Jones though. Anyway the next day was our last day before we had to drive back to Jersey. We decided to have lunch on the south beach strip. As were eating who walks along but most of the Dutch national team. The De Boers, Winter, etc. The one player who remains in my head though is Riijkaard(correct spelling?). As we were eating he comes up to our table(as we were dressed in our U.S. jersey's) and asks my friend if the U.S. team played anywhere in the area? He was very cocky and tried to throw the loss in our faces. My friend is american by birth, but is a full blloded italian. He starts chanting USA, USA, and I yelled at the team and asked them how many world cups they had won. I yelled zero, just like the lowly U.S. They didn't take this well and kept moving. Although we were outclassed on the field, I felt very good after that exchange. No disrespect to all the dutch faithful though. I met many Dutch patriots in the parking lot, and they treated my friend and I with nothing but respect. Although the Dutch team is a millenia ahead of the U.S. on the field, I thought they needed some help off of it. Most Dutch people I have met(in Holland or elsewhere) are very kind and helpful. Is this type of arrogance reserved only for its footballers, or does it pervade other sports as well? Granted any high paying athlete can develop such attitudes, Dutch or American or otherwise. I think it is neccessary for all athletes to have some respect for their fans though. With no one in the stadiums, who will pay their salaries? Who will pump up their egos after a good game? I don't know, all I do know is that when any athlete's head gets too big, its a fans duty to show them where reality lies. If any Dutchman is offended by what I yelled at the team, I send my sincere apologies. I ment no disrepect to anyone, I drove all the way there to see my two favorite teams in the world. I was confronted, and responded with simple facts.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000

I've posted some pictures of the Gotham Cup (and practice session at Rutgers) here: http://www.ajax-

-- Anonymous, November 07, 1999

Not even mediocre play in the Cup and the relative aloofness of the players at Saturday's training session could dull the lustre of finally getting to see Ajax play firsthand. I've only been a passionate football fan for about six or seven years (since like most Americans, the taste for the game is acquired rather than inherited) and Ajax have always been my first love in the game. The chance to see the team up close, to share stories with other enthusiasts, both Dutch and American, and to finally feel no estrangement from soccer- ignorant masses because of my love for Ajax - this was all heady stuff for me. This Ajax team is not the great side from 95-96, but the colors, traditions, songs, and comraderie all rang true nevertheless. There were some quality moments, especially from Wamberto, that brought a smile. The defense, however, brought mostly hand-wringing and groans. Overall, the play was not so bad in this setting as to destroy all optimism for the league season. Highest marks to Jim McGough for his efforts to bring us all together in person and via the internet for this event. Without his energy, enthusiasm, and abilities this would not have been nearly as memorable for many of us...Thanks, Jim. My favorite memory: getting to share the whole experience with my son, who will undoubtedly be an Ajax fan for life now. (His favorite memory was getting to play goalie in the pick-up match against the Aston Villa supporters). My second favorite memory was getting to be interviewed on Dutch TV. I know they only wanted me for my truck (the red AFC Ajax 'mobile), but since the truck doesn't talk much, I spent a few minutes with the reporter! I'm looking forward to the next time Ajax are in America so I can renew some acquaintances and rekindle some fanatacism... Robert

-- Anonymous, August 16, 1999

Best memory: All the beautiful Dutch women who showed up to cheer Ajax on!

-- Anonymous, August 16, 1999

Ajax, prior to game vs. NE Revolution on July 21. (Photo: Rob Klooster, Netherlands)
This and other photos available on Ajax Foto Side, and match reports are available on (in Dutch).

-- Anonymous, August 16, 1999

Here are my memories of the Gotham Cup:

BEST MOMENT: Watching the starting line-up walk out of the tunnel, being that's the first time I've ever seen any Ajax side in person.

WORST MOMENT: Those damn penalties against Villa, but what else would you come to expect from a Dutch club? And why was Witschge taking one? Everyone knows he doesn't take penalties.

BIGGEST REGRET: Not being able to make the match on Sunday because of a wedding (under normal circumstances, I'd skip the wedding, but I was the best man and there was absolutely no way out of it...believe me, I tried everything to get out of it).

However, I did attend the training session on Monday morning (only about 5 spectators were there total, including the head men's coach at Rutgers). The whole squad trained for about an hour. The goalkeepers worked out a little bit with Wil Coort, and the outfield players did some conditioning with Laszlo Jambor, so I was a little disappointed they didn't touch a ball around, but I can't say I didn't expect a light practice. Also, Ferdi Vierklau was training exclusively on the side with Pim van Dord, which led me to believe he's coming off an injury, so that's why he didn't play at all this weekend. Jan Wouters and Jan Olde Riekerink gave the few spectators a little show, showing off their ball skills, having a pass and juggling (Wouters can indeed still play! Maybe we can suit him up and stick him in the defense). After the field players were through, Arveladze, Winter and Riekerink juggled the ball a little bit, showing off their skills as well, while the other players stretched and took a break. I didn't even realize the training session was over until seeing Sjaak Wolfs putting all the balls into a bag, and by that time, most of the players had quickly made their way to the bus with bottles of mineral water in their hands (except the unlucky few that were chosen to help carry the equipment back to the bus). However, I still managed to get autographs from Stanley Menzo and Nikos Machlas. Menzo's arms were full, yet when I called his name, he gladly dropped the equpiment and came over for an autograph. Also, Machlas was carrying a water cooler back to the bus right in front of me, so I called out "Nikos!" and offered a pen and pad of paper. He put the cooler right down, came over, and signed with a smile (and said something in either Dutch or Greek, I'm not sure). For someone who was worth close to 8 million dollars, I think he's pretty friendly with the fans and soon will become a fan favorite (that and he's scored every game he's played for Ajax so far). Besides those two players, the others were as how Jim described them. Jan van Halst stood right in front of me about 2 feet away and when I called his name for autograph, he looked at me, turned away, and walked off, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, it was a great thrill to finally see the club I support in person, though the results weren't what I hoped they'd be. It, too, comforts me somewhat that the squad took the Gotham Cup matches as basically glorified training sessions, so I'm not too worried about everything. Personally, I think the problems in defense are understood. Starting three teenagers (Pique, Mokoena, & de Cler), you're bound to get burnt a few times. Hopefully, Tobiasen gets back to full fitness soon and de Cler matures into an FdB. Hopefully, Wouters can sort everything out so they can pound Feyenooit in the Johan Cruyff Schaal in a couple weeks.

Jim, I'd also like to thank you for organizing this whole thing. I'm sure you put in a ton of hours you didn't have to, lost a couple hairs over the t-shirt controversy, and I'm sure everyone appreciates the trouble you went to to make sure this weekend was memorable. Any word from David Endt or the staff on whether Ajax would be coming back next year??? If they don't, I can't say I blame them. The weather was terribly hot, and rumor has it that they were robbed Sunday night from their hotel (that's what the American guide told me).

Also, I have a roll of pictures from the Villa match and a roll from the training session, so if anyone would like to see the better ones, I'll be more than happy to scan them and send them via email. Just email me and let me know.

Hup Ajax!

-- Anonymous, July 27, 1999

Jim: Just want to publicly thank you for organizing the trip and taking all of the headaches. We had a great time meeting Ajax fans from around the country and Holland. We werent't so happy with the team effort, especially on defense, but Wamberto's goal against Aston Villa and Machlas's goal on Sunday were first rate. They are headed in the right direction and with a little help and some more practice time together will be much improved. Unfortunately Fiorentina was, by far, the best team there. Thanks again for everything. I hope you enjoyed the beer I gave you after that bus ride from New York and the hot dog on Sunday. Unworthy tokens for your effort.


-- Anonymous, July 27, 1999

Hello Jim, perhaps it it is because they act the same as in The Netherlands, players are seldomly happy with signing autographs. Of course being nice to children is something else. I don't think they understand what it means to children to have a photo or t-shirt signed by a "famous" soccer player. I can't give you the answer really, simply because I don't know what these players are thinking.

Maybe a bit late but visiting the Ajax website gives you the opportunity to ask for autographs, posters and such from your favorite players. They maybe even send it to you.

Good luck and goodbye

-- Anonymous, July 27, 1999

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