If we asked you to, we bet you could name at least one of England’s one-cap wonders. Steve Guppy – he’s one. Brian Stein is another. See, it’s easy. But what about if we ask you to reel off one of Boro’s (many) one-outing wonders from over the years? Now that ain’t so simple. Maybe it’s because those players weren’t good enough for a second go. Every one no doubt has their own tale to tell on that front – so what would Carel van der Velden have to share?
Carel van der Velden: Who Is He?
Well, he’s a Dutchman – and that’s rare for Boro’. Born in Arnhem, the midfielder started his career at his FC Wageningen; a club that’s not a million miles from his hometown but one that also no longer exists. We can’t tell you how long he was there – maybe three or four years? He made his senior debut aged 16, according to an interview with Dutch site hetgeldersevoetbal.nl. So, that could be either late 1988 or early 1989.
Anyway, it seems the time came to move on in 1992; a short move back to his hometown by signing for Vitesse Arnhem. But our research suggests van der Velden was there for a single year before moving onto Den Bosch. By now, the midfielder was starting to spread his wings; the Blue White Dragons more than 40 miles down the road from Arnhem. With three years there, his next move (in 1996) would be even further from the starting point.
When did he sign and who from?
The first port of call for van der Velden after coming to these shores in March 1996 was a town known around the UK for its continental flair and cosmopolitan culture: Barnsley. He didn’t quite have the same impact as fellow countryman Dennis Bergkamp, who’d himself only arrived at Arsenal nine months before. Just a handful of games for the Tykes is what he managed before leaving Oakwell in summer 1997.
It wasn’t quite the ideal time to leave Barnsley, however. The Tykes were promoted to the Premier League that summer. Instead of turning out in the top flight, the next stop for van der Velden was the old Division Three and sunny Scarborough. His first appearance was reported to be a good ‘un too. But, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out and he left on a free shortly after taking his game count into double figures.
Where next? Where else – from Scarborough to Stevenage Borough this tale takes us…
Did he play often?
To start with, van der Velden had to earn his stripes (lol) with our ressies. And he did just that. Not sure the “Carel van der Goals” headline works for us, Clive. But this shows you how good an impression he made while making the grade with us. So, in mid-November 1998, he stepped up into the first team; his debut coming in a 1-1 draw at Stalybridge. It was a full shift too. So, a legend in the making – right?
Erm, not quite.
That match is the last we hear of him; his name getting no mention in any programmes in the weeks after our trip to Bower Fold. Did he not fancy it? Were we not keen on him? So many questions, so little ability to answer them. Maybe one day we’ll find out a bit more – like when the British Library’s back in play. But, not unlike Rodney McAree a year later, a bright midfield prospect turned out to be a false dawn.
Where is Carel van der Velden now?
In-between leaving us and summer 1998, we don’t know where van der Velden’s odyssey took him. But, then, he popped up at Rushden & Diamonds. The Diamonds got their 1998-9 campaign off to a right ol’ bang; rdfc1992.com explaining how “it looked like Brian Talbot had unearthed a gem” as van der Velden’s presence in the midfield propelled them along.
The appearances soon dried up, however; discipline seeming “to be a big problem for the talented Dutchman”. With just two further first team outings from December 1998 until the end of term, the Diamonds let the midfielder go after one season.
It was time for a change of scene for van der Velden. He crossed the Irish Sea to Dublin; picking up with Shelbourne ahead of their 1999-00 Intertoto Cup adventure. While on the books with Shels, the midfielder was part of their league and cup double-winning team; a classy and creative midfielder by local accounts. Makes us even more keen to know how or why it didn’t work out with us.
Anyway, he moved onto Sligo Rovers in 2000 – but, as one of their full-time players, van der Velden was let go when the Bit o’ Red went part-time. It paved the way for the player to return to his homeland and move into coaching. In January 2018, he was named head coach of SC Everstein on a deal that’d bring him through to the current season.
CAREL VAN DER VELDEN – 1 (0) appearances, 0 goals (1998)