100 years sc Heerenveen: ‘Club wouldn’t have grown so big without Abe Lenstra’ | NOW

SC Heerenveen celebrates its centennial on Monday and that in the year that the best player the Frisians have ever produced would also have been 100 years old. The influence of Abe Lenstra, who died in 1985 at the age of 64, can still be felt within the club to this day.

Lenstra will forever be mentioned in the same breath with the legendary match between Heerenveen and Ajax on May 7, 1950. The home team was trailing 1-5 half an hour before the end, but still won 6-5. Lenstra initiated the heroic comeback with two goals. His hero status in Heerenveen thus gained gigantic proportions.

“Abe wanted to prove himself in that game because he was aiming for a return as a left inside the Dutch national team. He knew that the entire selection committee was in the stands. And if Abe wanted to prove himself, he did too. That characterized him.” , says Johann Mast, sports journalist at the Leeuwarder Courant and author of the biography on Abe Lenstra.

“Abe was perhaps bigger than I thought when I started the book. I also went along with it: the myth, was it all true? And yes, he was really good, from lonely height. He mastered all the finer points of the game. He was able to shoot with both legs and hard, with a good head and was very fast with his dribbles. “

Abe Lenstra towers above everyone during an international match of the Dutch national team. (Photo: National Archives)

‘Abe did not have to leave Heerenveen if necessary’

Lenstra made his debut in 1936 in the first team of Heerenveen at the age of fifteen and appeared to be bash-firm. He wore it for eighteen years pump blades-shirt and scored over five hundred goals. Lenstra was the league’s top scorer almost every season, but he twice missed the league title.

“Abe did not complain about interest, but he did not have to leave Heerenveen if necessary. He was doing well both sportively and financially. He received gifts and privileges from the mayor for work. It is not that he was not without Friesland was possible, but he had everything well organized in Heerenveen “, says Mast.

“Abroad was also still very far away. He was told from all sides that those clubs could not be trusted with regard to payments. That he left for Enschede at the age of 34 was related to the entry of professional football in the Netherlands and that Heerenveen was getting worse, while he still wanted to show it at the highest level. “

Abe Lenstra shakes hands with Prince Bernhard. (Photo: National Archives)

‘The club still breathes Abe’

Heerenveen opened the Abe Lenstra Stadium in 1994, where there is also a statue of Lenstra in front of the main entrance. Former chairman Riemer van der Velde, who was one of the initiators of the name change of the stadium, once came up with the slogan no one is bigger than the club except Abe.

“The club still breathes Abe, you can feel that with every visit. They owe a lot to him. The question whether Heerenveen would have survived without Abe as a professional club may well be asked. When he left, they really are was dying after death. In the late sixties it was seriously a dime on its side, “says Mast.

“A group of supporters has prevented bankruptcy under the name Aktie’67, so in that sense Heerenveen is still a professional club thanks to them. But would those people also have been a fan of Heerenveen if Abe had not played football? In any case, it is certain that Heerenveen wouldn’t have grown so big without Abe. “