The birth of Ringwood City SC (Wilhelmina) began in the mind of Dutchman John van Hoboken. Although his emigration to Australia was business oriented in it’s objective, his passion for the round ball game was spurred into thought by business partner Jack Skolnik (then president of the powerful Hokoah Sports Club), whose words “you Dutchmen simply don’t know how to play football” stung the ears of van Hoboken.
Fully aware that many high quality players had emigrated to Australia, van Hoboken registered the name Wilhelmina D.S.C (Dutch Soccer Club) and went in search of recruits amongst the top Victorian leagues. Although many players hesitated at the thought of dropping to the lower leagues initially, the idea of an all Dutch club was very well received, and Wilhelmina unleashed their orange shirts on the unsuspecting Fourth Division reserves competition in 1953 in a paddock in North Balwyn which was to be their home for three years. The club finished second despite the rough playing surface, and despite having begun half way through the season.
1954 saw the first official Wilhelmina senior side enter the Fourth Division competition. With the likes of Tom Olifiers (captain and team coach), Wieke Bakens, Appie van Dinther, Dre Remmers, Piet Schipperheyn, Bert van de Berg, Rinus van de Peet, Jack Lammers and goalkeeper Hans van Egmond, Wilhelmina had far too strong a side to do anything but canter to the Division title that year.
First Team – 1954: Q.van der Peet, N.van Dinther, R.Rubens, G.van der Berg, A.Olifiers (captain), J.van Stekelenberg, F.Postma, J.Lamers, T.Kuen-Breteler, H.van Boxtel, A.Remmers.
1955 saw not only Wilhelmina’s promotion to the Third Division, but also another easy championship. The club brushed aside all other clubs finishing the season with a perfect record of eighteen wins.
Wilhelmina relocated to Burnley oval in Richmond in 1956, but it was to be the arrival of Sjel “Mike” de Bruyckere from Holland that had a major impact on the club. The flamboyant playmaker and former Dutch international (capped eight times) became the club’s first official coach, and was to be instrumental in leading the club’s charge to yet another championship – this time in the Second Division – and promotion into the Victorian First Division.
Wilhelmina had risen from Fourth to First Division in successive seasons, losing only one game of the 54 played.
The club’s first taste of top-flight football was the pre-season Sun Cup Competition. Wilhelmina quickly proved that it was not out of it’s depth by narrowly losing the final to JUST. The season also marked the move to McDonald Reserve in Hawthorn, with more accommodation for players and spectators alike. Rein Yntema became the club’s first top flight goalscorer in Wilhelmina’s debut 1-1 draw against Geelong, and although the club did not win the title as previously, it did finish a creditable fifth. In the post-season Craven “A” World Cup Tournament Wilhelmina, under the banner of Holland, clinched the final at Olympic park in front of 20,000 spectators with a 2-0 victory over Scotland (Brighton).
As the old First Division name was replaced in season 1958 by the new appellation State League, Wilhelmina once again directed their ambitions to securing the title. In the end they finished a tight second behind the competition’s dominant club Juventus, who clinched their sixth title in seven seasons. Despite this disappointing loss, Wilhelmina took comfort by winning the prestigious Dockerty Cup. In a gripping final against Juventus at Olympic Park it took two matches to finally produce a winner, with de Bruyckere’s clinical finish in the replay proving to be the difference between the two teams. The excellent season was rounded off as Bill Westerveld was awarded the Argus Medal and de Bruyckere was adjudged League’s Best and Fairest Player.
Dockerty Cup winning team – 1958: Ad Sloethark, Sjel de Bruijkere, Hans Peterson, Tjibbe Keuken, Rein Yntema, Arie Luyten, Tony Noy, Dre Remmers, Bill Westerveld, Cor Morks, Cor Matthyssen.
Spurred on by the near miss in ’58, Wilhelmina made sure there would be no second prize in ’59, blitzing all comers to win the title. Glory did not come without cost though, with striker Rein Yntema and captain de Bruyckere both breaking their legs during the season, and Bill Westerveld requiring an arm amputation after a tragic car accident. Remarkably he returned to the playing field later despite this setback. Not surprisingly, the price paid for the title had left an emotional mark on the team, and they were not able to retain the Dockerty Cup to end this remarkable decade.
State League champions – 1959: Cor Delgeorge, Tjibbe Keuken, Bill Westerveld, Joe van der Unden, Arie Luyten, Tony Noy, Ad Sloethark, Cor Morks, Pret Brouwer, Dre Remmers.