This article has been contributed by the following authors:
Jan Luitzen
Wim Zonneveld

Some protagonists of early Dutch football attended boarding schools in the UK in their teens. As part of ongoing research, we here describe this bit of Dutch sports history and would be delighted to obtain further details on these schools, their students, their staff and the availability of relevant archives and files.

1878-1888 is the era in which football was introduced into Dutch sports. Up until then cricket was the main field sport increasingly undergoing ‘sportification’, with its own association, rule standardization, regular club, county and international meetings, and first crack players. Like cricket, football was first played in boarding schools in North and South North Holland, introduced there by young teachers hired as native speakers and as sources of English educational culture. The first football was played at Noorthey school for boys at Voorschoten near Leyden, and Noorthey students played a key role in promoting the sport elsewhere. Amsterdam, Haarlem, Rotterdam and the Hague in the western part of the country and Enschede in the east were the first major centres of football activity. Several cases are known of Dutch youngsters being trained in commerce or liberal arts in the UK and then serving as football promoters at home. Two of these concern the Haarlem young sportsmen Theo Peltenburg and Pim Mulier (the famous sports enthusiast, promoter and later ‘head honcho’). Theo obtained part of his education at Newton School in Rock Ferry near Birkenhead, Merseyside, and Pim at St. Leonard’s House in Ramsgate, Kent.
We recently covered these cases as part of an integrated report on early Dutch football (‘Kicksen en Wickets’, Hard gras football magazine 115, August 2017), but will be delighted to obtain any available further details on these schools. 


A Haarlem newspaper clipping of October 1881 describes the earliest stages of cricket by schoolboys in that city. Clubs mentioned can be interpreted to be Progress, ‘Red & White’ and ‘Red and Black’. An anonymous teacher is mentioned who seems to have encouraged these boys to form a debating club from which these activities originated. We identify this teacher as Willem Martinus Logeman (1821-1894), a local physics teacher, promoter of the study of the sciences, and co-founder of Weten & Werken (‘Knowing and working’), an early ‘open university’ style educational institute. Ca. 1873 he makes an educational study trip to north-Wales and (probably) the Merseyside area, prompting his son Willem Sijbrand Logeman (1850-1933), a Utrecht University trained student of the Liberal Arts, to start a boarding school in Rock Ferry near Birkenhead opposite Liverpool. He runs this Newton School together with local education expert William Woodhead, former ‘Diplomated Science Teacher of the Science and Art Dept., South Kensington’, setting up a curriculum aiming at ‘corporal so well as mental development’ for students from the Netherlands, France, Portugal and elswhere. Ca. 1892 Willem Jr. returns to Haarlem, the school’s principal then being listed as ‘Mr. J. Wharfe King’.


Theo Peltenburg (1861-1932) is the first Dutch goalscorer in the first Dutch intercity football match between Haarlem Football Club and ‘Sport’ Amsterdam in Haarlem, November 21, 1886. The son of shipbuilder Hubert Th. Peltenburg,  he enrols in Logeman’s Newton School in Rock Ferry in 1878, taking a curriculum in commerce, economy, trading and foreign languages, no doubt aimed at his future role in the family business. We presume his interest in sports was piqued in his Merseyside surroundings, in Birkenhead (Birkenhead Park Cricket Club, Birkenhead FC) and Liverpool (St. Domingo FC to be Everton FC). Having returned to Haarlem ca. 1881, he enlists in the navy, being discharged in 1885. From 1884 onwards his name appears in newspaper sports reports, in track running, gymnastics and cricket, and he plays in the home and away football matches between H.F.C. and ‘Sport’ in 1886. From 1888 onwards he runs the family shipyard with his brother Frans, turning it into an international wood trading enterprise. In 1907 Theo supervises the building of the first H.F.C. stands of the club’s new venue at the Spanjaardslaan in Haarlem. He also remains active as a recurrent committee member in Dutch sports.


Willem Johan Herman ‘Pim’ Mulier (1865-1954) is the indubitable central figure of late 19th century Dutch sports, sports promotion and sports organisation (a.o.: Daniel Rewijk, Captain van Jong Holland, 2015). Self-promotion, though, is not a character trait he shies away from, and separating self-created myths and admirers’ hagiography from substantively checkable facts is a continuing struggle in assessing his role in Dutch sports history. It was Nico van Horn’s 2004 painstaking research which revealed that, with his family living in Haarlem, long periods of Pims teenage years and school life were spent in boarding schools in the Netherlands and abroad, casting doubt on his systematic involvement in the early stages of the development of sports and, especially, that of cricket and football in Haarlem ca. 1880-1886. Pims claim of being the founder of the Haarlem Football Club in 1879 is hard to accept because of his residence at boarding school in Brummen near Zutphen at the IJssel River in the east of the country; and similarly his claim of being directly involved in the conversion among Haarlem schoolboys from rugby-type to soccer-type football, ca. 1882-1883, as he spent that very same year at St. Leonard’s House in Ramsgate in Kent, a boarding school run by Guillaume and Ann Laurens, a French and Dutch speaking husband-and-wife teacher pair from either Belgium of the north of France, whose small boarding school aimed at Dutch students mingling with English boys. With a liberal arts curriculum, one of the school’s specialisations was in music, Ann being a classically trained singer. Pim has described how in Ramsgate he played rugby-football with the local schoolboys, and, although not playing it himself, had explained to him this game’s rules as  different from soccer. He would return to Haarlem an enthusiast, to the benefit of his local posse, but the exact date of that return and the state of Haarlem football, and Dutch football in general, at that time remain a tantalising subject of further investigation.


After the  H.F.C.-‘Sport’ matches in november-december 1886, Dutch newly established clubs from Amsterdam, The Hague, Haarlem, Rotterdam and Enschede started playing each other during the 1887-1889 winters and the national football association (Nederlandsche Voetbal- en Athletiek Bond) was founded in The Hague, December 8, 1889. From there football took off.

Article © Jan Luitzen & Wim Zonneveld