‘Van Hanegem makes transfer to Circus Boltini’; the April 1 joke from 50 years ago

‘Van Hanegem makes transfer to Circus Boltini’; the April 1 joke from 50 years ago

NOS Football

Even after 50 years, Theo Reitsma still shoots in laughter. “I remember that incident well…,” the now 80-year-old soccer commentator says.

“We had figured out that he had signed a contract with Circus Boltini. I believe he was going to give crooked balls. In any case, a specialty of ‘The Crooked’. But of course that could never be done in a circus.”

April 1, 1973: ‘Van Hanegem makes transfer to Circus Boltini’

With his calm, soothing voice, Reitsma covered many World Cup finals and European Championship finals. For example, he was one of the few to watch Diego Maradona “score by hand” against England at the 1986 World Cup, only to be entranced by the same player later in that match: “Ohohoh, all doubt is gone. This is the best player in the World Cup.”

Two years later, he watched the Dutch national team (“this is a good bunch you know”) celebrate after winning the European Championship final against the Soviet Union. Marco van Basten’s wonder goal is still in everyone’s memory with the following words, “What a goal, what a goal, what an unparalleled goal!

‘Applauding the circus’

Die Reitsma started as a 27-year-old editor at Studio Sport in Hilversum in December 1969. “At the time, I was working with director Henny Budie. Henny and I got along very well. And that included jokes and gags. In this case, we had come up with an April 1 joke, where Willem van Hanegem would stop playing soccer.”

“We approached him and Willem thought it was a fun joke. He played right into it. He had had enough of soccer, he said in an interview. And he would devote himself entirely to Circus Boltini.”

Willem van Hanegem enjoyed playing along in the April 1 prank of Studio Sport duo Henny Budie and Theo Reitsma and Circus Boltini.

The joke appeared on the tube and immediately caused a fuss in Rotterdam-Zuid and surrounding areas. Supporters were angry with Van Hanegem. As was Feyenoord manager Guus Brox.

Until Van Hanegem simply showed up at De Kuip again on Monday for Feyenoord training. De Kromme later spoke of a successful joke.

Golden Loeres

The Studio Sports twosome’s prank was more than successful. Later, Budie and Reitsma even received an award for the best April 1 joke of the year. That Golden Loeres, the brainchild of Zandvoort artist Edo van Tetterode, was itself another joke.

Indeed, in 1962 van Tetterode had a life-size statue washed up on Zandvoort beach. It did not take much effort to discern the resemblance to the statues on Easter Island, off the coast of Chile.

And when a Scandinavian expert – a disguise of Van Tetterode himself – confirmed that theory, many Dutch people began to believe in its unlikely origins.

Since then, Van Tetterode annually awarded the Golden Loeres in Zandvoort, a sculpture in the shape of a statue of Easter Island.

Theo Reitsma receives the “Golden Loeres” from the hands of Leo Horn (left). Partner-in-crime Henny Budie (right) already has his statue clamped.

“The trophy, which belonged to it, Henny Budie took with him,” Reitsma said. “But it was a very nice evening anyway. Referee Leo Horn presented the award. Toni Boltini and his daughter were there themselves, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Henny has since passed away,” Reitsma concludes, “and what happened to that prize, I don’t know either, I do know that we had a lot of fun with it. And so did Van Hanegem.”

Kayleigh Williams