A very big one in the series Hard Gras. And yes, it is about football. Then again, from a whole different perspective. 't Hart is the writer, an established author who didn't know much about the sport when he was asked to follow the club for a year. Heerenveen is the club everybody loves. I'm sure that when asked most Dutch fans what their second favourite team is, they would come out on top. They have a great sense of tradition, always a cheerful and friendly crowd, a manager who has been there for longer than anyone can remember, a great shirt, an attractive team, great youth players, it is hardly impossible to not like them.
2 years ago they surprised the big teams and finished second, therefore qualifying for the champions league. Small town Heerenveen suddenly had to play European giants like Valencia. Good occasion for somebody to follow the club closely. 't Hart did so for a whole season. From an outsider at first, he soon becomes part of the club, of the team. He takes part in the typical football jokes, is accepted as their biographer.
The great thing about this book is, that it is written about the people. You really get to know the main characters. Foppe, their manager, Gert Jan, his assistant, the players of the first team, everybody who plays a role. The football is not very important in the book. Descriptions of matches are for journalists and newspapers, not for authors and books, a point of view I share. It is a book I wish I had written, a compliment I do not make very easy.
The season does not really go according to plan. The club has a difficult time combining playing in Europe with the local competitions. They have injuries and as always have to make do with a small budget and excellent scouting. For those of you who didn't know, European top strikers like Tomasson, Allbaeck and Van Nistelrooy became big in Heerenveen. They win only once and draw once more to go out of the champions league early, their season back home didn't go very well either. But for the book, this only makes for more interesting situations. Great book, one of the best in this series.