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  • Writer's pictureDeclan Mythen

Clogball: Adam Muyt's research into "a hidden history" of Australian football

Australian football has long been defined by the post-war migration boom that birthed the flurry of clubs attached to the various communities that made their home in the country. A community often overlooked and forgotten in this mix is the Dutch. The book Clogball results from years of research by author Adam Muyt into the Dutch threads that have weaved into Australian football since the 1940s. He recently spoke exclusively to Front Page Football about his book and the Dutch influence on the game in Australia throughout history.

The front cover of Clogball. (Clogball)

Between 1949 and 1970, over 160,000 people migrated from the Netherlands to Australia, and the 2021 Census of Population and Housing indicated that there are currently almost 400,000 Australians with Dutch heritage. Adam Muyt’s seminal publication Clogball is ultimately a story of migration, explaining how Australia became home to great clubs such as Austral, Hollandia, and Wilhelmina.

Muyt first discussed the influences behind his research into this field and how Clogball was composed.

“I went to the Netherlands for the first time in 2014. I came back, and I started writing for a Dutch-Australian weekly. I was watching the A-League one day; Brisbane trot on in their all-orange kit. That got me thinking,” Muyt shared with FPF.

“Pretty quickly, I realised that there was a good cluster of [Dutch] clubs, and I thought I’d get into this and write an article became an idea and a concept.”

Muyt’s research has revealed a continuous Dutch presence throughout Australian football since the 1940s. However, the author admitted that the community has shrunk since the 1990s. Clogball establishes that over 40 Dutch migrant football clubs have operated in Australia over the last seven decades. Yet, the Dutch are often forgotten when discussing the ethnic dimensions present throughout the code in Australia.

“It is a hidden history, [the] history of the Dutch in Australia and their involvement in soccer. It was a story I felt needed to be told as it told a migrant story.”

“[The Dutch have] often been very influential, but you don’t notice it often...they were the third most numerous migrant community from continental Europe in the 50s.”

Muyt further detailed the similarities between the Dutch and English languages and how this linguistic proximity contributed to the assimilation of Dutch migrants, resulting in their football clubs gradually becoming less identifiably Dutch.

“There was a real desire to assimilate. That was the official policy [at that time]. It became easier because they (the Dutch) could speak the language pretty quickly,” he added.

Adam Muyt speaks at the Melbourne launch of Clogball. (Clogball Facebook)

Clogball also investigates the more complex substratum of identity within the Dutch migrant community, such as the involvement of Dutch Jews at some clubs in their early days.

“The Dutch Jews went to Sydney Austral. Two of the first three founders were Dutch Jews,” Muyt stated.

The author captures a period in Australian football history, drawing attention to the significant Jewish influence at many clubs during this time, such as the Dutch at Austral but also with the Czechs and Hungarians at Prague and Budapest, respectively.

“It is only when those [aforementioned] clubs start to fold or weaken that they [European Jewish migrants] start to migrate to Hakoah,” Muyt said.

Muyt believes the Dutch migration wave has crashed and is now receding. In his opinion, there are no Dutch football clubs left in Australia. But there are about eight standing with identifiable Dutch roots.

“All of them are community clubs, so what they’ve done [is] embraced their community identity...I think that is the trajectory that most of our migrant clubs have evolved into,” the author said.

“The one club that's probably still got a Dutch element, but it’s a community club as well, is Gambier Centrals. They have had a Dutch involvement throughout their history.”

Muyt further explained that he believes Australia will never see ethnically Dutch football clubs again.

“I’ve captured a moment in time, 40 years of really active involvement [of Dutch migrants in Australian football], and then it all sort of peters out, but that’s Australia,” he said.

Even though the golden era of Dutch influence in Australian football has long passed and is seemingly set never to return, Muyt still feels migrant clubs have a role to play in the game.

“I think it’s part of the DNA of the code to embrace migrants; it’s a global game,” the author affirmed.

“I watch the Socceroos, what do I see? I see contemporary Australia reflected on the field.

“We’ve got a different wave of dominant migrant cultures’s the continuation of the history of soccer in Australia.”



Brisbane Roar acknowledged their Dutch roots on their playing kit for the 2021/22 season. (Brisbane Roar FC)

The post-war migration boom was a watershed moment for Australian football, a moment that could not last forever. However, with the National Second Tier set to commence in 2025, such clubs could still offer much to the code. Though no clubs with Dutch roots are set to join the new competition, Muyt still takes solace in this culture's representation within Australia's senior national teams.

“It’s (the Dutch-Australian national team representation) a quiet satisfaction and a reflection of the 1950s migration wave. It’s a satisfaction that, yeah, there are these Dutch names,” the author said.

“It pleases me to see Mooy and Irvine and the rest.”

The rest includes prominent Matildas members Emily van Egmond and Caitlin Foord, Socceroos left-back Jordan Bos, and Young Socceroo and Melbourne City goalkeeper James Nieuwenhuizen.

Muyt has been touring Australia to promote Clogball at the various Dutch social and football clubs across the country, the same institutions mentioned in the book. He reflected on the reception to his research within the communities he has visited.

“It’s the second generation [of Dutch migrants] that I have largely connected has been [a positive response],” he shared.

Muyt’s tour highlights how deep Dutch roots run in Australian football, with clubs of this influence still operating in most states and still, to an extent, servicing their traditional community.

“The bolt of Dutch migration becomes the threads of Australia,” the author said.

Adam Muyt is indeed still working on his writing and research into this topic, and he plans on penning an article centred around the Dutch influence on Australian rules football next.

“[Writing] is a creative process for me...I’ve gone from Australian rules oral history to this (Clogball), so who knows where the next one will go?” he concluded.

Click here to read more about Australia's football culture!


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