Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Seat of Frits Philips

Even during the biggest games, one seat remains vacant in the Philips Stadion. On evocative summer nights and wintry afternoons, the home of Eindhoven's beloved PSV appears full to capacity; the visits of Ajax and Feyenoord attracting thousands in colour and passion. Still, one seat is empty. The seat of Frits Philips.

In a history littered with influential icons, there is no greater symbol of PSV than 'Mr Frits." The fourth chairman of Koninklike Philips Electronis, a local business which mushroomed into a pre-eminent world force, Frits grew up in lock-step with its football club. As an eight-year-old boy, the Philips Stadion rose majestically before his very eyes; PSV Eindhoven expanding from a mere means of recreation for Philips employees into a behemoth of continental football.

Whilst heading the Philips conglomerate, Frits remained the most ardent advocate of PSV. The clubs supporters, much like the whole of Eindhoven, fell in love with his free-thinking modesty. With the club developing rapidly, Mr Frits famously chose not to use the modern hospitality facilities inside the stadium; electing to instead join the main bulk of fans in the stands. Even as managers came and went, legends were made and sold, trophies were won and lost, Frits Philips could be found in Section D, Row 22, Seat 43. His was an undying loyalty.

Frits Philips was quite literally part of the furniture at PSV Eindhoven; fans sung his name even more so than Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mateja Kezman or Mark van Bommel! In many respects, he was PSV. Accordingly, when he passed away at the grand age of 100 in December 2005, the club moved to create a worthy tribute. Whilst the entire city of Eindhoven was renamed Frits Philips Stad for the day, the football club which so illustriously bore his family name wanted a more permanent honour.

As a mark of respect, it was decided that Frits' Seat would remain empty for eternity.

Section D, Row 22, Seat 43 - Frits Philips Seat.
Nowadays, Frits Philips has become en even greater folkloric figure; Ultras groups such as Lighttown Madness frequently creating displays in his honour at home games, as illustrated below.
Fan tribute after death.

The connection between Philips and PSV Eindhoven is so pronounced that many feel compelled to have tattoos focusing on the theme, as shown here.
A PSV tattoo. 
So next time you watch a PSV Eindhoven game, with the Stadion so bedecked with fans, just remember that the greatest fan of all, one Frits Philips, is still in attendance long after his death.

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