Another week, another shirt- and we’ve a fine one to consider this time around with another Dutch team that is well known within its own country, but not too famous abroad. A perfect topic for this humble football shirt collecting site then, and not in the least because this particular design includes a number of delightful references. Introducing MVV Maastricht and their traditionally styled 2017/2018 home shirt;
Red shirts with white sleeves – always a classy look even if seeing it would typically prompt a neutral football fan to think of Arsenal. Even within the Netherlands, many would think of AZ Alkmaar before MVV, as the former club co-opted this design from 2007 through to 2015. But that is doing a great disservice to MVV for whom this is their quentessential identity, even if plain red shirts did feature regularly up until the mid 00’s.
The initialism MVV used to be short for Maastrichtse Voetbal Vereniging (Football Association of Maastricht) but was tweaked to Maatschappelijke Voetbal Vereniging (Community Football Association) in 2011 when the city’s name was added as a suffix. Maastricht is the capital of the province of Limburg, which you can recognize on a map of the Netherlands as being the salient extending along the sides of Belgium (to the west) and the Germany (to the east) in the southeast of the country. This location in the deep south naturally brings the club into contention with fellow Limburgian teams Roda JC and Fortuna Sittard, and to a lesser degree VVV Venlo, which is about 70 kilometres north of Maastricht.
Oh, and before we proceed; if you’re interested in other Dutch football shirts, feel free to peruse some of our previous articles on the subject;
- ADO Den Haag 2014/2015 Home Shirt
- SC Cambuur (1) (2)
- FC Den Bosch 2016/2017 Home Shirt
- FC Emmen 2018/2019 Home Shirt
- Matchworn Go Ahead Eagles 2018/2019 Away Shirt
- FC Groningen (1) (2)
- SC Heerenveen 2003-2005 Signed Home Shirt
- Matchworn NAC Breda 2016/2017 Home Shirt
- Matchworn N.E.C. Nijmegen 2009-2011 Home Shirt
- Roda JC Kerkrade 1995-1996 Signed Home Shirt
- SC Telstar (1) (2) (3)
- Matchworn FC Twente 2012/2013 Shirt
- Signed Vitesse 2014/2015 Home Shirt
- Signed FC Volendam 2008/2009 Home Shirt
With that out of the way, time to have a close look at MVV.
A club that has spent a fair few years in the Dutch top flight and can even boast about having been founded as far back as 1902 (as MVC; Maastrichtse Voetbal Club), but is now in the periphery of domestic football; the club haven’t played in the Eredivisie since 2000, which is the second-longest absence of all professional clubs that are still currently active (behind only SC Telstar, who have been stuck in the Eerste Divisie since the 70’s). Despite still being fifteenth on the all-time standings of the Eredivisie (just ahead of SC Heerenveen), results have been largely disappointing since the turn of the millenium, leaving MVV with a small – but eternally dedicated – fanbase.
Having long eschewed a traditional crest in favour of just an MVV wordmark with a gold star, the club finally moved to a escutcheon-based design in 2008 before introducing the current design in 2010. It is decidedly plain, but perhaps finds its strength in simplicity as the absence of further embellishments lets the club’s famous star take centre stage above the club’s name. Suppliers Masita sadly seem to have missed the mark in terms of embroidery, as there are notable defects to be spotted along with an upper edge that doesn’t seem to sit flush. Nonetheless, it is clear to see what inspired MVV’s nickname of de Sterrendragers, which roughly translates to the Starbearers.
The star is but one element of the shirt, but almost all of them share a common denominator; from the emblem on the right chest to the sponsors, all of these are local to the Maastricht area and southern Limburg. And even the colours red and white can be taken to represent the city, as they mirror the mirror the municipal colours.
Bearing that in mind, one may still find fault with the shirt; that odd mascot with a cape and domino mascot sure is prominent, after all.
Introducing the, uh, Gamin. Taking its name from the French word for a street(smart) child, this superhero-esque figure spearheads the efforts of MVV’s main sponsor Stichting Maatschappelijke Projecten Maastricht (SMPM), a community foundation funded by corporate interests that has been campaigning in the Maastricht area for a number of years to get children to eat healthy food, exercise at least an hour a day, and, indeed, Drink Water.
Despite essentially being a social cause, MVV did get paid for lending its shirt to the Drink Water campaign (which translates really well to English) from the moment the slogan first appeared in the 2013/2014 season. Initially on a three year deal, the partnership was continued for another two years to take it to the end of the 2017/2018 campaign. From 2018/2019 onward, the Gaming and Drink Water became sleeve sponsors. Interestingly enough, the initial plan in 2013 was to have the slogan accompanied by a different corporate sponsor each matchday, but this was quickly shot down by the Dutch FA who weren’t keen on the club tweaking sponsorship from one week to the next (league rules only allow for a handful of switches per season).
Although the Gamin figure appeared for the latter three seasons of the partnership (only the slogan featured in the first two years), fans never quite got used to it and remained vocal in their dislike; it looked childish and many loyal supporters were more keen on the age-old mantra of ‘Drink Beer’. In our personal, semi-professional opinion this little stick figure is indeed more than a nuisance, but if you consider this shirt from a wider perspective, its presence certainly sets MVV apart from most every other shirt on this website by going beyond a sterile corporate sponsor.
Besides the Gamin, there is plenty more to find on the front of the shirt; we’ve seen the crest previously, but the emblem on the right chest is worth highlighting just as much, if not more so.
After all, this is the classic coat of arms of Maastricht. The five-pointed star is once again the centre piece, and for good reason as it is the oldest bit of iconography related to the city; it was used as early as the year 1253, when Maastricht was still ruled by two feudal Lords (the Bishop of Luik/Liège on one side and the Duke of Brabant on the other). The angel and crown were added much later, with the former likely being based on the stedenmaagd (virgin of the city, a common element in Dutch heraldry); this fair woman was later given wings to resemble an angel, but crucially didn’t get a halo added. The crown, meanwhile, was added in 1819 with approval of the Hoge Raad van de Adel, the standing court of law that regulates heraldry in the Netherlands.
The coat of arms was first added to the shirts in 2013/2014, albeit on the upper back, which coincided with the first sighting of Drink Water and the rebranding of Dutch sportswear brand Masita who adopted a new wordmark and revolutionized their catalogue offerings following a change of ownership.
It’s always worth talking about Masita, who have long been the most stable domestic player in the Dutch teamwear market; hundreds of thousands of children and adults up and down the country played their amateur matches on Saturdays (in the country’s Bible belt) and Sundays (most everywhere else) decked out in Masita gear, and a fair few of them must have complained as the brand’s materials were rather coarse until the rebranding in 2013. This was inspired by Belgian former footballer Philip Ploegaerts buying the brand, which had been founded in 1933 by the Maas family from Sittard (with the name Masita being a portmanteau of the founders’ names and their city of origin).
Despite the new look and ownership, Masita fell onto hard times and had to file for bankruptcy in 2014 whilst being supplier to MVV, VVV, Excelsior, Helmond Sport, and FC Oss. Possibly overstretching themselves with the big contract offered to Groningen may have contributed to the brand’s downturn, but they were saved from liquidation in early 2015 thanks to a take over by ISBC Sport from the Limburg town of Echt. This ensured the continued survival of the Masita name as well as the honouring of the longest-running contracts; MVV were praised by ISBC for being the first team to reaffirm their faith in their supplier as they continued their partnership despite the supply problems that arose from the bankruptcy proceedings. VVV did the same (it pays to note that MVV, VVV, and Masita/ISBC are all from Limburg), and the brand has since rebuilt; at the time of writing, Fortuna Sittard has also joined the Masita stable (having previously spent over a dozen years with the brand) while FC Den Bosch left Macron for the Dutch brand.
Even before ISBC taking over, Masita provided its customers with thoughtfully bespoke shirts, and MVV was no exception to that rule; where the 2015/2016 shirt incorporated the Maastricht skyline into the bottom hem and the 2016/2017 top sported miniature stars on the sleeves, the 2017/2018 design was perhaps the most unique of them thanks to the addition of a feathered wing on the back of each sleeve.
These are not only a reference to the angel of the city’s coat of arms, but also a loving nod to the Angel-side, MVV’s hardcore fans who can typically be found in the south stand of stadium De Geusselt, behind one of the goals. A very literal take on angels, certainly, but definitely one that we can appreciate even if the connection will be completely lost on anyone not familiar with the club. And a very rare instance of a designer doing anything of substance with the back half of the sleeves, which hardly ever get bespoke details beyond sponsors added to them.
Admittedly, the wings were the only thing on these shirts that was different from the shirts worn in 15/16 and 16/17 – which had the skyline and stars respectively. Apart from these details, the club essentially wore the same shirts for three full seasons, a complete anomaly in modern professional football.
And despite being drawn in a lightish grey tone, the wings are still plenty visible from a distance, as evidenced by the view from the back. They extend a nice ways from the body towards the red sleeve cuffs, although terminate sooner than they could (or should) have due to Masita’s habit of adding their wordmark to the sleeves. Still, plus points for individuality and doing a proper, original tribute to the city and the team’s fans.
The rest of the back of the shirt looks good as well, thanks to the presence of two sponsors breaking up the monotonous red; Hansen Dranken is a wholesale drinks firm that ironically does not stock water (but hundreds of types of beer, wine, and soft drinks should you not want to Drink Water) who previously served as main sponsors over a decade ago, while Sjef Ubaghs specialize in building services.
And finally, on the back of the collar, the words ‘VEER ZIEN MVV‘. This is local dialect for We Are MVV, and serves as both the club’s battle cry and the name of the a volunteer foundation that serves as the club’s biggest sponsor. Perhaps being best described as a crowdfunding effort, Veer Zien MVV were founded following the club’s brush with bankruptcy in 2010 with the goal of ensuring a steady revenue stream for MVV to dip in when strengthening the squad.
Veer Zien MVV has raised over 700,000 Euro for the club in the past decade and even runs the catering in the stadium on matchdays, but has seen its efforts greatly hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which remains a massive point of concern now that the Dutch government has forbidden fans from attending matches (thusly cutting off one of VZM’s ways of generating money) following a failed pilot in the opening stages of the 2020/2021 season that saw supporters at many clubs break social distancing regulations.
The 2017/2018 season in the Eerste Divisie – called the Jupiler League at the time – was quite memorable for MVV and its fans. Sure, the club finished tenth which wasn’t much better or worse than in previous and later years (between 2014 and today, the club never finished higher than 7th or lower than 12th), but the Starbearers did squeak into the play-offs for promotion and relegation thanks to the then-current system allowing for no fewer than eight teams to compete. MVV were the lowest-ranked team to qualify based on their league position due to the academy teams of Ajax and PSV finishing ahead of them but being ineligible to partake in the play-offs.
However, the first hurdle proved too much for the team, which included players like goalie Michael Verrips, defenders Christophe Janssens and Samy Mmaee, midfielders Ricardo Ippel and Dean Koolhof (son of former PSV player Jurrie), and strikers Joeri Schroyen and Jonathan Okita; in a round robin against Almere City FC on the 1st and 5th of May 2018, MVV lost twice (1-3 at home and 3-1 away). This denied the club the chance to square off against bitter rivals Roda JC in the next round.
Two years on from that disappointment, MVV continues to ply its trade in the Dutch second tier hoping to maybe one day find their way back to the top flight. The pandemic has hit hard, a main sponsor has yet to be found, and manager Darije Kalezić has yet to win the confidence of every supporter – but the red and white persist. The Angel-side persists, from a distance due to play resuming behind closed doors. And the star persists, proudly on the shirts and in the hearts of all who cheer on the club.
We are proud to own this shirt, and not in the least place because this was the last piece of our lowlands puzzle; indeed, MVV was the 34th and final professional Dutch club to have a shirt added to our collection, which means that we’ve completed our Challenge! Once lockdown eases, we are looking forward to including it in a group shot of all the shirts.
That’s just about all you need from us for now, but as always, we would like to remind you that Club 25 is a weekly publication – expect a brand new article from us next week, so keep checking back for when we have a new shirt going live. Additionally, keep up to date with us on our Twitter page and flick through the site’s Shirt Archive to see what shirts we’ve covered in the past.