Ehmmmm.... ice-hockey history in the NL, illustrated by some very accurate images!
Started after WW2, the Dutch ice-hockey competition was all kind of confusing, embarrassing and hilarious examples of an amateur sport with annual 4 to 36 matches played. From 1964 till now there is a (semi) professional league, played by a different number of teams, depending on sponsors. I would say, our best period was when Feenstra Flyers were the champions from 1975-1982. This sponsor made also able to import some good Canadian (often with Dutch roots) to the NL. It was also during this time the Dutch made it to the Olympics in 1980. One time only!
They play (ed) in the famous Thialf venue in Heerenveen, which every Dutchie knows for its ice speed skating. in their haydays they drew 1000-3500 spectators, what was spectacular considering the place ice-hockey has here.
The last few years the league consists of 6 Dutch and 1 Belgian team. It's all played in the more unknown and darker regions of the Dutch sports scene nowadays. The number of ice hockeyers in the NL is nowhere near the most popular 25 sports. It all has to do with money, not so much the cultural side of things, because success has been done. But we can't play ice-hockey outside in winter, so we are totally depended on indoor venues which are expensive and quite busy with other sports.
Postcard from 1913
Well known coaches in that 'glory' time for the Feenstra Flyers were Alex Andjelic (Yugoslavia), Dave Hyrsky (Canada) and ......Chuck Norris (USA). Have you ever heard of them Harvest or Whitenoise? So, concerning Dutch ice-hockey it's all doom and gloom and I can't see any improvement any time soon. Athletics, gymnastics, even cycling are on the up due to success by examplary sporters in those sports like Dafne Schippers. From the broadcasting point of view, only the league finals play-offs do get some time by our national broadcaster. For the rest: NADA!
There were 175 female ice-hockeyers in the Netherlands in 2011. Nice to see 12,5 % of them here. Hope they had fun!
The nicest ice-hockey images in the NL are, when the canals get frozen and literally everybody lives on the ice. Hup, from your frontdoor on to the ice and have fun. Mothers with prams, fathers pulling sledges, couples skating hand in hand, older people performing old-fashioned style of riding and dances and everybody enjoying hot chocolate (with or without rum), thick and filling peasoup and hot kwast (lemonjuice with sugar - delicious). Without exaggerating these kind of days are magical, especially when the sun is shining and in the evening with the glow of street lanterns.
´dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,
lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove,
raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn,
we're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above, dance me till the end of love´