Bob “Bouke” Hoogenboom – More Than Just A Goalkeeper
Fans of Sporting Lokeren had more than their share of brilliant foreigners at the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties: the two brilliant Poles Lubanski and Lato, the Danish striker Preben Elkjaer Larsen, a young Arnor Gudjohnson, …
But none of these players had such an incredible track record as Bouke “Bob” Hoogenboom.
The Dutch goalkeeper would play for 14 seasons and 449 games ( a record) in East Flanders and experienced all of their European and domestic successes.
Things didn’t look that rosy for Bob in 1973.
At Ajax, Bouke was hit by injuries and the heavy competition, and barely made it off the bench. He may have won several championship titles but he didn’t have much fun winning them.
It forced Hoogenboom to a hard conclusion: maybe professional football wasn’t meant for him. He took a step back and rejoined his old amateur club De Spartaan.
And Bouke became himself again, he showed why Ajax had bought him and even reached the Dutch amateur team.
Ajax, however, still couldn’t make space for him and they let Hoogenboom leave for a paltry 3,000 NLG – 55,000 BEF (1,360 euro) to Lokeren which had just been promoted to the Belgian first division.
A departure that Hoogenboom always had a hard time dealing with.
In the end it would turn out to be a great change for the born Amsterdammer. Lokeren immediately found itself near the top of the First Division and the Dutchman excelled in goal.
With his typical moustache, brilliant saves and pleasantly disturbed behaviour he soon won the hearts of the Lokeren fans. He was not the tallest, just 1 meter 80, or the strongest but he had no fear and was, like any good goalkeeper, a bit crazy. Moreover, things went fast for Sporting Lokeren, they nestled themselves in the top of the First Division and went into Europe.
But it wouldn’t always be easy.
After the successful years in which Real Sociedad and Nantes, among others, were defeated in Europe, the star players of Lokeren were attracting a lot of attention. In 1983 Lato, Lubanski and Snelders left the club, in 1984 Larsen, Gudjohnson, and Dobias.
The squad was bolstered with young talents such as Swat Van Der Elst, but the lack of experience and the loss of quality make Lokeren slip from the top towards the darkness of the right column.
Hoogenboom witnessed the slow decay of the club and in an interview with Sport 80 magazine he tore into then coach Dimi Davidovic.
The situation turned into a real power struggle between Hoogenboom, who is supported by the board, and Davidovic, who is supported by the players’ who even circulate a petition to remove Hoogenboom.
Against all odds, it’s the coach who has to bow out. Davidovic is fired and Aimé Antheunis is allowed to take over.
The next few years remain relatively quiet (though, with Hoogenboom everything is relative) and in season 86-87 Lokeren manages another great season.
The squad with talents like the Versavel brothers, Stephen Keshi and Kari Ukkonen takes 4th place in the league.
However, the season 87-88 turns out to be a dud and Lokeren barely manages to stay up with a 16th place.
After that season, where Nigerian Peter Rufai becomes the undisputed choice in goal, Hoogenboom decides to take a step back and leaves for RC Heirnis Gent.
They haven’t forgotten about Bouke in Lokeren, he was voted their best goalkeeper ever and holds the record of 449 league games for the, now defunct, club.