The first TV report of the Dutch national team was shown in Groningen

The new football

On May 14, 1952, the Dutch national team drew 0-0 against Sweden. And most importantly, a football match was broadcast live on Dutch TV for the first time.

The Dutch national team in 1952 against Sweden. JD Noske pictures via National Archives

The friendly match between the Netherlands and Sweden at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam was covered live by Aad van Leeuwen for national television. That was nearly a quarter century after Han Hollander first did it on radio, in 1928, also at the Olympic Stadium.

the darkness

So it was a pioneering work and therefore there was doubt in advance whether the entire match could be broadcast. According to De Telegraaf, “the actual image broadcast will continue as long as daylight allows”, in clear weather likely until around 8.15am. Three cameras were installed: one on the roof of the grandstand and two in the stands on the short side of the field. An additional transmitter was installed on the Marathon turret, which sent the image.

The broadcast was provided by NTS, which became the third major assignment for this broadcaster after the Queen’s Day parade at Soestdijk Palace and the regular performance at the Binnenhof in The Hague. Significantly more viewers were expected for this production in Orange, because football was already popular at that time.

The match itself was hardly worth the effort, but it attracted a lot of spectators. As now, many people gathered in the streets, cafes and restaurants to watch, especially since many families did not have a device yet. Relatively, the cameras kept rolling until the end, despite the darkness. De Volkskrant: Although the picture quality was below any standard in those moments, TV viewers did well not to break the tension and keep the spectator at home involved in the match. Who at that moment looked outside. He must have been surprised by what was still on the screen. Then it was impossible to take a picture outside without tools. The white ball, which was used in the dark, also made it easier for onlookers at home.

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Of course, not everything went well, such as annoying smudges on the screen and audio interruptions for a while. Therefore, NTS and Van Leeuwen received criticism and praise for this first live report on Dutch TV of a football match. At first, the commentator provided little information, so viewers often did not know which player to play. So it was better to turn on the radio at the time, because that happened in the Ad van Emmenes report. After dark, Van Leeuwen beat the match better. The KNVB was advised to pay more attention to the uniform, because it is very similar to the Swedish uniform – very difficult, especially in the last half hour in the dark.

And newspapers especially praised this, even if only for pioneering work. And Nieuwsblad van het Noorden thought, “Decent TV reception in Groningen.”

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