Ajax (as often happenedmade it to the championship play-offs. On 9
December 1934-, a brand-new stadium was opened. Officially, the club's new
home was named the 'Ajax Stadium', but it was soon popularly called 'De
Meer', after Watergraafsmeer, the part of Amsterdam where the stadium
World War II also brought bad times for Ajax but shortly after that, in 1947,
Ajax was able to celebrate another title. One of the players in the
championship-winning team was Kinus Michels. In the sixties, he gave Ajax a
strong professional foundation on which countless national and
international successes were built. In contrast with other countries, Football
in the Netherlands, at the end of the Forties, was still played on an amateur
basis. This situation ended in 1954. Many traditional clubs found it difficult
to convert to professionalism. On 15 July 1954, the Ajax Annual Members'
Meeting voted on the dub's conversion to a professional football
organisation. The members felt that if Ajax wanted to keep pace with
football s top teams, the step to professional football was an unavoidable
one. Although the chairman, Mr. Koolhaas would rather have seen Ajax
remain an amateur club, the decision was reached that Ajax would vote in
favour of the introduction of professional football. The Dutch FA initially
refused to give in; however, it was won over on 13 November 1954:
professional football was officially allowed in the Netherlands, and Ajax was
one of the first professional dubs.
The 1957 title brought Ajax its first taste of a new phenomenon: European
Cup football. In the competition for Europe's national champions Ajax
started with a double victory over East German side Wismut, after which
Ajax was eliminated in the quarter final stages by Vasas of Budapest.
Internationally, the Dutch football clubs played only a modest role. The Latin
countries, where professional football had reached a very high quality and
financial level, had the upper hand in the international arena. To reach the
quarter final was therefore considered to be a great success.
Concerning the club's management, an important step was taken with
regard to a new structure with the introduction of a members' Council in
June 1962, which became the most important body within the organisation.
Within the club it can be seen as the Lower House of the Dutch Farliament.
The powers of the members' Council include appointing management board
members of the Association, supervising the management board and
adoption of club regulations and amending the Articles of Association.
Ajax finished the 1964/1965 season out of the top four for the first time in
the professional era. The 'Year of Crisis' (Ajax finished 13th in the league),
however, also brought some very positive things. A new young talent
announced himself: Johan Cruijff. With Ajax, he would develop into the best
player in the whole world. And, on 21 January 1965, Kinus Michels was
appointed manager as successor of Vic Buckingham, who was dismissed.
Surrounded by a group of hugely talented players, Michels went his own,
revolutionary, way. He gave the club an enormous professional boost and
built a very powerful team. Ajax not only collected a string of Dutch league
titles, it also conquered Europe. The way in which the team did this, with
superbly modern, attacking football, left an overwhelming impression and
made the name Ajax famous all over the world. After it had been the first
Dutch club to reach the final of the European Cup (which it lost) in 1969,
Ajax managed to win this most sought-after European club prize three
times in a row, from 1971 to 1973. Ajax was regarded as the best club side in
the world, which reputation was confirmed once again when Ajax won the