The history of Heerenveen
The beginning of Heerenveen dates back to 1920. In the ﬁrst year we played under the name ‘Athleta’. During the 1921/1922 season the name was changed into ‘Spartaan’. This did not last long, for in October 1922 it became
v.v. Heerenveen. The big breakthrough of Heerenveen came in the dark years of World War II.
During the German occupation Heerenveen managed to win the North of the Netherlands title three times in succession. These three championships heralded an extremely successful period in sports. After the war Heerenveen was stronger than ever. The supremacy was for a great part owed to the presence of Abe Lenstra, the man who is still regarded the best football player ever in Heerenveen.
Abe Lenstra was a jack-of-all-tricks, who, after liberation day, led Heerenveen to the Northern title six times in a row. Despite Abe’s presence Heerenveen never succeeded in winning the national competition. But the Heerenveen team posed a serious threat to the big football giants from other districts, but never managed to win the championship.
In the early ﬁfties the supremacy of Heerenveen began to fade. The club had to be content with a more modest role in the ﬁrst division. In 1954 professional football was introduced in the Netherlands. The introduction of professional football led to heated arguments, in Heerenveen too, and ﬁnally led to Abe Lenstra’s departure for Sportclub Enschede (in 1955).
Heerenveen was relegated to the second division where it led an anonymous life for a number of seasons. All the same, the end of the ﬁfties brought a great success: At the expense of the club Roda Sport from Limburg Heerenveen managed to win back a place in the ﬁrst division.
The sixties were lean years for Heerenveen. The club led the life of an average club. The lack of sports successes brought Heerenveen to the edge of the abyss. But when things were at their worst, in 1967, the local populace dedicated itself to the task of rescuing their languishing club in an all-out effort. Thanks to this spontaneous help, which became known as Action ’67, money was collected to keep professional football in Heerenveen alive. This help came at the right moment. Heerenveen sailed before the wind again and, like in the ﬁfties, the club ﬁnished the decade with a championship and promotion to the ﬁrst division.
In the seventies Heerenveen was an average club. In the seasons 1971/1972 and 1973/1974 the Frisians even joined the race for promotion to the Premier League. But coming third in both seasons was not enough for a place in the Premier League. The ﬁnancial situation was not good either. In 1974 it was all hands on deck to prevent bankruptcy. To ensure the future of the entire club would not be at risk the club was split in an amateur and a professional football club. The professional continued in a foundation under the new name sc Heerenveen.
It was trainer Henk van Brussel who put sc Heerenveen on the map again in the eighties. His no-nonsence approach paid off, for in the seasons 1980/1981 and 1981/1982 Heerenveen got as far as the play-offs. On both occasions the club only just missed promotion.
On the sports side things went well, but financially Heerenveen was up to its neck in difﬁculties. In an attempt to turn the tide the businessman from Bakkeveen, Riemer van der Velde was asked to become chairman. Under his leadership the professionalisation was given a boost.
Van der Velde’s approach resulted in Heerenveen growing to become a value to be reckoned with in Dutch professional football. With van der Velde at the helm and Foppe de Haan as its trainer Heerenveen was promoted to the Premier League in 1990. The year after they were relegated again, but in 1993 they managed to be promoted again. From that moment on Heerenveen has been a ﬁxture at the top of the league.
Since then, Heerenveen has created a distinct proﬁle for itself. Twice the Frisians reached the cup final and, thanks to a refined scouting policy, managed to engage great players such as John Dahl Tomasson, Igor Korneev and Ruud van Nistelrooy. In the season 1997/1998 Heerenveen won participation in European football (Europe Cup 2) for the ﬁrst time.
From that time on Heerenveen can regularly be found on the European cup scene. Last year Heerenveen managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup for the fourth consecutive time. The biggest success is still the 1999/2000 season when the Frisians ﬁnished second, led by Foppe de Haan, and earned a place in the prestigious Champions League.
In the meantime chairman Riemer van der Velde has been succeeded and Foppe de Haan’s job has been taken over by Gertjan Verbeek, but that does not change the policy and the sportsmanlike eagerness of the Frisian club. Heerenveen still aspires to a prominent position in Dutch professional football.