The ADO of ADO Den Haag stands for ‘Alles Door Oefenen’, ‘Everything Through Practice’. For decades, though, the flagship club of The Hague has had far too much practice at finishing mid-table.
ADO’s position of tenth (behind Roda Kerkrade, NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar) in the all-time Dutch league table is a poor reflection on the third biggest city in the Netherlands and its governmental centre.
Aiming to reverse this state of affairs, in 2014 wealthy Chinese entrepreneur Wang Hui bought the club for nearly $9 million – but then missed various instalment deadlines to pay in his investment.
ADO remain in limbo – and mid-table.
The club dates back to 1905. Formed at the Het Hof van Berlijn café, now the Muziekcafe de Paap, ADO were one of several amateur outfits in a strong local football scene. Two decades later, they moved into what would be their long-term home, the Zuiderpark.
Success came after another two decades. The war-affected Dutch championship, still amateur, saw a handful of previous also-rans (AVV De Volewijckers?) come to the fore, ADO included. Managed by their former striker, Wim Tap, the green-and-yellows picked up two consecutive titles, in 1942 and 1943 – their only major silverware until a certain Ernst Happel began his illustrious coaching career at the Zuiderpark.
Raised in the Danubian school of football in Vienna, Happel imposed a strict tactical discipline at his first managerial post, ADO, from 1962. That decade, the club made four Dutch Cup finals, winning one, and finished in the Eredivisie top four four years running.
After Happel left to win the European Cup with, first of all, Feyenoord, players of the quality of Dick Advocaat, Piet de Zoete and Aad Mansveld kept Den Haag near the top. In 1971, ADO merged with long-standing local club Holland Sport to form FC Den Haag, soon to be feared in Europe.
After a second Dutch Cup win in 1975, a Mansveld hat-trick had Den Haag 4-0 up half-time in the Cup-Winners’ Cup against West Ham. Two replies from Billy Jennings, and the Hammers had just enough in the tank for the London leg to overcome the green-and-yellows. Mansveld now has the home end named after him at the Cars Jeans Stadion.
Den Haag never hit such heights again. Soon its hooligan following, the notorious North Side, was getting more headlines than the mediocre team. A nadir was reached in 1982, with the North Side setting fire to the Zuiderpark and Den Haag going down to the second flight for the first time since the mid 1950s.
It took four years and the tactical savvy of Rob Baan for Den Haag to win the Eerste Divisie, unbeaten, in 1986.
Since then, the club, renamed ADO Den Haag in 1996, have yo-yo’d between the top two divisions. Moving from the Zuiderpark to the new-build, family-friendly, high-security Cars Jeans Stadion in 2007, ADO’s form has also picked up. Cheered on by club mascot Storky – the English rendition of the ADO’s signature bird must have sounded better than ‘Ooievaar’ – Den Haag even made it to Europe in 2011.
Beaten 3-0 by Omonia Nicosia, ADO then slipped back in the league. Whether the goals of ex-QPR forward Abdenasser El Khayati – and sporadic investments of new owner Wang Hui – can revive them remains to be seen.
Opened in 2007, named after sponsors Kyocera in 2010, then sponsors Cars Jeans in 2017, ADO’s new-build stadium holds 15,000. Even of such a reasonably modest size, the ground has been nicknamed by fans ‘A Hague coffee’, always poured out to fill half the cup.
Though average attendances aren’t that bad – around 11,500 in 2017-18 – it’s a long way from the Zuiderpark. Home of ADO from 1925, the club’s old ground became notorious in the 1980s for the activities of its hooligan crew, the North Side.
Created with security in mind, the Kyocera features what is known as Happy Crowd Control, photos taken of each spectator as they enter the ground. More recently, the ADO Den Haag club museum was opened.
Today’s home fans occupy the Aad Mansveld Tribune, sectors F-J. Away ones are allocated Gastenvak X, accessed via gates 25-26, opposite. Alongside is the family sector, named after one of Mansveld’s team-mates, Lex Schoenmaker.
Neutrals are best located in the sideline Haaglanded Tribune, press and VIPs facing it in the Eretribune.
There’s no tram stop by the stadium – the nearest one is Forepark, 10min from Den Haag Centraal by tram Nos.3 or 4, or metro line E (every 5-10min, 10min journey time).
At Forepark, turn right at street level as you come out onto a main road, Donau. Walk straight ahead, past various warehouses and Sallo’s restaurant. The road bends right, bringing the stadium into view. Allow 10min.
Alternatively, get the train from Centraal to Den Haag Ypenburg, 1 stop (7min) away. Cross under the motorway to Donau, bear left – the stadium is head, 7min away.
The ticket office at the stadium opens Tue-Thur noon-6pm, Fri noon-8pm. Tickets are also distributed in Primera newsagents – there are a couple close to Den Haag Centraal. If buying in person, you’ll need to show ID.
Online prices adodenhaag.nl/tickets/kaartverkoop/e-ticketing/e-ticketing-zonder-s-cc are €2 cheaper – for most league games, €19 instead of €21 in the Aad Mansveld Tribune, €27.50 instead of €29.50 in the Haaglanden. For children up to 12, it’s €12-€17/€14-€19 respectively.
A Club Card adodenhaag.nl/tickets/club-card/algemene-informatie (€10) is required for games against Ajax, Feyenoord and Utrecht – otherwise, it just provides modest discounts and easier online purchase.
The Fanshop (Tue, Wed, non-match Sat 10.30am-5.30pm, Fri noon-8pm, home games 2hrs before and for 1hr after kick-off) behind the Aad Mansveld Tribune sells all manner of green-and-yellow gear, including car wing-mirror covers, iPhone cases and greetings cards – new baby ones featuring the club stork, of course.
Opened in 2015, the ADO Den Haag Museum had been ten years in the making – in fact, since the club’s centenary. Pride of place goes to the medals and trophies won in ADO’s title years, 1942 and 1943. Opening hours are sporadic – contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the way to the stadium from Forepark, there’s only one venue: Sallo’s. This bright, light, contemporary brasserie overlooks one of the narrow waterways that snake through the business park that provides the weekday clientele here. Weekend openings vary.
At the stadium, a hut behind the Aad Mansveld Tribune opens on match days for home fans only. The main outlet is the Brasserie by the Zuiderpark corner (entrance 5-6), elegantly done out with a history of the club in black-and-white photos. Match-day admission is by table reservation only – contact email@example.com.