December 10, 2018

Australia: The influence of Dutch migrants on Australian football

Premiership pennants for the Windmills from Perth, Western Australia.  The Windmills were one of the first Dutch migrant teams to be established in Australia (in 1950).  They continue today as the Morley Windmills.   (Photo: Adam Muyt)

Adam Muyt, a second-generation Dutch-Australian writer, is piecing together the history of Dutch involvement in Australian football.

Clogball in Australia
Dutch migrants played a significant role in Australian football in the decades following World War Two. A new publication entitled Clogball: the Dutch and Football in Australia 1948-1990 aims to tell the story of Dutch involvement in Australian football. One of the features of Australian football in this period was the multitude of migrant-aligned clubs playing in competitions across the country. With their love of football, Dutch migrants took up this concept with passion. Reflecting the extent of the Dutch migrant population’s dispersion across Australia, teams aligned with Dutch migrants formed in all state capitals and several regional centres. These teams distinguished themselves with names like Wilhelmina, Neerlandia, Windmills, Clogs, Sparta, Shell, Werkspoor, Fortuna 60, Vitesse, Be Quick, Orange, Orange Lions and Hollandia. In several places Dutch migrants helped form local district teams while many took up roles as administrators, referees, coaches, trainers and support staff.

Numerous Dutch-flavoured teams won regional competitions over the years and many Dutch were selected in state and regional representative sides. In the 1950s and 1960s alone, ten Dutch players took the field for Australian national teams.

Dutch-Australian cooperation
Adam Muyt, working in collaboration with Dutch football writer Roberto Pennino and undertaking archival research and interviews with several former players and others, is ‘joining the dots’ of this continent-wide story. The result will be several articles and a book on this overlooked aspect of Australian football history and the Dutch migrant experience in Australia. Interested? Here you can read an older article by Adam Muyt.

This project was supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canberra, Australia.