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The big threeOn this week’s listening report we take a look at the bug three teams in Holland, also known as De Grote Drie. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above, and you can also read the transcript of the report (below). There is also explanations of key vocabulary (in bold).


The top division in Holland, the Eredivisie, has been dominated by three in its history – Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, and Feyenoord. Every season, most fans and pundits expect the Champions to be from one of these three teams, and they are all great rivals. We take a look at some basic facts about De Grote Drie – the Big three.


Most football fans over forty will automatically associate Ajax with the phrase total football. The Amsterdam team was managed by Rinus Michels in the late 60s and early 70s, who introduced total football to the world – a style of play in which any player can play in any position. With an image of the God, Ajax, on their badge, God’s sons, the nickname of Ajax, play in all white with a red diagonal stripe across their shirt. Because the club is from the eastern part of Amsterdam, an area that had a large Jewish population at the beginning of the 20th century, fans also call themselves the Super Jews. With 33 championships, Ajax are by far the most successful Dutch side. They can also boast four European Cups. Ajax finished 2nd a long way behind PSV last season, but will hope to  do much better this season.

PSV Eindhoven

PSV, from the south of Holland, are the second most successful side in the top flight. They have 22 titles and have also had success in Europe, winning the European Cup and the UEFA Cup. PSV stands for Philips Sport Vereniging, and the side from Eindhoven was formed in 1913 for Phillips factory workers. Nicknamed the peasants or the light bulbs, a picture of a light bulb is on their crest, and playing in red and white striped shirts and black shorts, PSV’s biggest rivalry is with the metropolitan Ajax team. The current Champions are widely tipped as favourites this year, too, although losing key players like Memphis Dupay and Georginio Wijnaldum may give hope to their rivals.


The third team in the Big Three is Feynoord, from the port city of Rotterdam in the west of the country. While only winning 14 titles, a long way behind Ajax and PSV, they do have the honour of being the first Dutch side to win a European Cup, a feat they achieved in 1970. They play in a historic stadium, nicknamed ‘the tub’, which holds over 50,000, and they have widespread support across Holland. Supporters are known as The Legion and the team is also referred to as the People’s club. When Feynoord play Ajax, it is called the Klassieker, and the game is a symbol of the rivalry between the two biggest urban areas Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Feyenoord play in red and white halved shirts and black shorts, and although they finished fourth last season, they will be hoping to maintain the good start to the season they have had, winning three out of four, which puts them in equal top spot with Ajax.


pundits: experts, commentators, journalists

total football: a style of football played by the Ajax and Dutch national sides of the early 70s. All players are expected to be able to move into any position – a fluid style of play

boast: be proud of

stands for: represents; corresponds to

metropolitan: of the city; often indicating sophistication

tipped: predicted; forecast; guessed

feat: something that requires a lot of effort, courage or skill; a great achievement

urban: city


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2015-16Episode 270