Ajax has won the national championship for the 31st time in club history! Ajax won the national title on Wednesday with a 2-0 win against VVV-Venlo. Ajax coach Frank de Boer has thus led his club two championships in eighteen months. A special and odd season was crowned with a golden finish.
This season’s title seemed out of the reigning champion’s reach for a long time. At one point, Ajax was thirteen points behind the leader. Ajax picked itself up after the winter break, making up lost territory with a series of thirteen wins. Ajax the champion can still add one more win to the 2011-2012 football year by beating Vitesse in the Gelredome on the competition’s closing day.
There was much reminiscent of the magical May 15, 2011, when Ajax won its thirtieth title, and earned its much coveted third star. The atmosphere in the ArenA was somewhat more subdued than it had been in the previous championship match; but there was enough to enjoy in the special ambiance of this championship match. The routines, which had been emphasized by the coach and staff for weeks, finally formed a solid foundation during these last weeks. On Wednesday, all of the past hiccups and physical troubles seemed very far away.
Siem de Jong blew extra life into the memory of ‘May 15’ by scoring for this team against VVV-Venlo. The centre forward opened the score after eight minutes. De Jong sent the ball over the goal line from close by, punishing the meagre defending by the VVV defence, including goalie Dennis Gentenaar: 1-0.
Cheered, clapped and encouraged on by a fantastic twelfth man in the stands (another parallel with May 15), Ajax quickly sought a second goal. Ajax was not very fortunate. Right before the opening goal, Vertonghen had sent a shot onto the post; five minutes later, the Belgian’s attempt ended on the stands. The ‘Frankie, Frankie, we’ll be champion’ echoed from the stands from the Amsterdam ArenA, which had been sold out for five weeks.
The one way ball traffic in the direction of the Venlo goal resulted in a second goal after almost an hour. It was De Jong once again who, this time completely on his own steam, struck. The forward received the ball from Gregory van der Wiel, and, in one fluid motion, prepared it for a shot, after which Gentenaar was once again defeated: 2-0. ‘We are the champions’ was now the cheer coming from the Ajax fans. Four minutes later, substitute Kolbeinn Sigthórsson saw his attempt hit the crossbar.
With the last minutes on the clock ticking away in this final home game of ’11-’12, the Ajax players who were on the bench made themselves heard. This triggered even more enthusiasm and delight with the fans in the ArenA. At referee Reinold Wiedemeijer’s ending whistle, the 31st championship was a fact. All of the lists of honour, including the ones on the second stadium ring on which all Ajax titles are listed, will need to be updated. 2012 is the latest championship year in Ajax’s storied and rich club history.
The concrete construction of the Amsterdam ArenA was put to the test under the swaying of 51.958 celebrating Ajax fans. Just as on that golden May 15, 2011, the stadium concrete swayed cheerfully on the equally golden May 2, 2012.