Football folklore is fraught with legends. Tales of its heroes are plentiful, its battles even more so, but no such story is etched into the psyche of the football fan quite like that of the underdog and the giant. It’s these games that shift the centre of the footballing universe, games like Sutton United v Arsenal, Manchester United v Crawley Town, and ahem… Ajax v Moor Green.
It may be hard to imagine the Moors battling one of Europe’s elite nowadays, but between 1933-1939, the club ran riot in Europe, undertaking five continental tours, and dusting off the trophy cabinet in time for the arrival of the Verviers Trophy in 1933 and 1938. The former even included a win at Eindhoven, attracting the attention of the PFA.
But no game stands out as much in the club’s history as that against Ajax, who just a year later would clinch their seventh league title. On a Winter’s day in 1938, The Moors braved both the cold and the Ajax strike force, grabbing a goal before eventually going on to lose 3-1. Despite the result, it’s hard pronounce the club as the losers. Yes, they had lost the match, but they’d come away with renewed spirit, friendship, and hope; a beacon with which to extol the virtues of the amateur game. 15,000 had watched them do Hall Green proud.
The challenge was made that much more formidable for the Moors by the presence of Gerrit Keizer in goal for the Dutch club that day. Famed for being the original ‘flying Dutchman’, Keizer was an international who had helped Arsenal to their first league title.
“They’d come away with renewed spirit, friendship, and hope; a beacon with which to extol the virtues of the amateur game.”
Despite the loss, there was consolation for the Hall Green club in a third place finish in the competition, culminating in a game at the Olympic Stadium. Moors ended their outing in the Netherlands with a 2-1 win against Blau-Wit, with goals scored by Eddie Cutler and Tom Stanley, who, among others, were rewarded with a pair of cufflinks
Ultimately, Moor Green would play only once more in Europe, their touring plans cut short by the war. But with only four leagues separating Solihull Moors and further European glory, who’s to say the spirit of ’38 isn’t still alive?
Sources: 1. Cowley, A (ed.) (1951) Fifty Years of Amateur Soccer: the History of Moor Green Football Club. 1901-1951, p.23-24
2. Brennan, D (2005). Arsenal’s First ‘Flying Dutchman’, UEFA, Retrieved from http://www.uefa.com/news/newsid=343662.html
3. Brennan, D (2005). Keizer Fearless in the Air, The Times, Retrieved from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/keizer-fearless-man-in-the-air-6xv93rbswzm
1. Cowley, A (ed.) (1951) Fifty Years of Amateur Soccer: the History of Moor Green Football Club. 1901-1951
2. Nationaal Archief, file 901-9387, http://proxy.handle.net/10648/a8a29e04-d0b4-102d-bcf8-003048976d84 (1946)