Gerard Bos became a household name last June during the Blues Stanley Cup Win as a fan from the unlikeliest of places, the Netherlands.
Last year, during the St. Louis Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup, a fan from the other side of the world garnered attention for his fandom, and through an unbelievable set of circumstances found his way to St. Louis to witness the historic season up close and in person.
His name is Gerard Bos, and he lives in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Where is that, you might ask? (See map below) The Netherlands is the home of a famous city that most have heard of, Amsterdam. But it’s not likely many could pick it out on a map.
As is the case with most countries around the world, soccer is the most popular sport. Their National team is always good and has appeared in three World Cup Finals. Hockey isn’t on most Dutch fans’ radar.
Although the NHL is a league full of players from all over the world, most people would not recognize many players from this list of Famous Dutch Hockey Players. To find a hockey fan in the Netherlands might not be so hard, but to find a Blues fan is rare.
Gerard’s story intrigued me, and I wanted to find out more about him. I mean, when a guy gets up in the middle of the night to watch Blues games, you’ve got to wonder how he became such a fan, right? Well, he speaks good English, has a perfect sense of humor, and is fun to follow on social media, so I reached out to him. He goes by “Gerard, the Dutch Blues fan.” His Twitter handle is @Dutch_Bluesfan and Facebook is Gerard Bos. Here is my interview with him:
BR: Thanks for doing this interview, Gerard. I think people in St. Louis love your story, and we want to know more about you. First of all, tell us what you do over there in the Netherlands. What is your job?
Gerard: I work as a freelance copywriter for companies and write about soccer and motorsports for a regional newspaper. I now live in Leeuwarden, a city an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, but I work in all kinds of parts of the Netherlands.
How did you first become a Blues fan?
It all started with the computer game NHL94. As little teenage boys in The Netherlands, not a big hockey country, we didn’t know anything about the NHL yet, so we didn’t know what team to pick. A friend said; ‘I’ll just pick the team with the nicest logo.’ I followed that advice and chose the St. Louis Blues because the Bluenote stood out between all kinds of animals and other logos. My friends picked the Flames, Sharks, and Avalanche. They lost interest in hockey afterward, but I was in love with the Blues logo and started to follow the club in real life, also because of the Internet first, streaming some years later and social media in more recent years. The love and curiosity about the Blues continued to grow.
So, if I read correctly, you became a fan in the 1994-95 season. Brett Hull was in the middle of his career but past his best scoring years. Al MacInnis was there along with Tony Twist. Who was your favorite player?
Hull was by far the best. But, I liked Brendan Shanahan a lot in those days!
How long have you been watching games in the middle of the night? Do you do that all season long? Or just for playoffs and individual games.
After following the Blues via articles on the Internet for the first couple of years, we got an American sports channel on Dutch cable tv, somewhere in the early years of the 2000s. It was called ESPN America. They showed hockey, and I would browse the tv guide to find out when they’d show a Blues game. Because of the timezone, I had to stay up or sleep before & after. After some years, that channel was gone, but luckily internet streaming had become prominent. So since the last decade or so, I have been watching the games through streams or even NHL TV.
I try to watch as many games as I can. Indeed, every playoff game, but also like 50 or so games in the regular season. Dut to work, I can’t watch every game, but luckily my job gives me some freedom with working times. That makes it easier.
Do you have any friends there who are Blues fans?
I have a lot of friends, but hockey is not a big sport over here. So, unfortunately, my friends are not even huge hockey fans. But of course, I spread the love for the Blues, and a lot of friends know and like the St. Louis Blues now after my trip in June.
What do they think of your passion?
They think I am crazy in a good way. Seriously: they like it. Everybody has their passions in life, no matter what they are – if you have a passion, go for it!
When you came to the USA to see the Blue play, some fans donated to your expenses, correct? Tell me about that.
Correct. I’ve visited on a trip through the USA before, a long time ago, and only a couple of days during a regular season. Just to see it once, I thought. But I got to know some people back then, thanks to St. Louis GameTime. And I said: “If the Blues ever reach the finals, I will be back.” So I had to come over, I wanted to, and I promised. But I didn’t count on it to happen after the team was dead last in January, so I didn’t save money for a trip.
Some Blues fans on Twitter came up with the idea of crowdfunding. I made a video, and all of a sudden, Blues fans embraced the ‘foreign fan coming to St. Louis.’ For example, there was a mystery donor – I still don’t know who it is – who gave 1500 dollars and a family who donated money for a Game 4 ticket in honor of their passed away son, who according to them would have loved it for me to come over all the way from the other side of the world.
There were lots of smaller donations, in total it was a lot of money: 2500 dollars! It was amazing. I could never have thought it would happen. With the plane ticket being 1000 dollars, the game four ticket being 800 dollars, and all other costs, the money was gone quicker than I imagined. I was planning to give money back, maybe to an STL charity, but in the end, I had nothing left (17 nights in a hotel, although a cheap one was expensive too). I even had to pay some money myself, but that was well worth it! It was a fantastic trip, the Blues were in the Finals, I saw them play, and they won the Cup. It was a perfect scenario. I wound up in a fairytale!
And all those generous, friendly and welcoming people… That was so awesome. People in St. Louis were so kind and helpful; I can never express my gratitude enough.
How long were you here? Where did you stay?
The crowdfunding started in the days after the Blues won the Conference, in a matter of days the whole rollercoaster ride started and I bought a ticket. I arrived on June 1, in the evening the Blues lost Game 3, 7-2. When I bought the plane ticket, I had a return date of June 14. I hoped the Blues would clinch in 5 or 6 games, and then I could see the parade too. When it went to a 7th game, I thought: I am not going to leave. So I had to pay a couple of hundred dollars to change my ticket to a later date (June 18, my birthday no less) so I could enjoy the festivities and parade too.
Where did you go while you were here in the USA?
In St. Louis I went to many different areas of the city. For lunch, for dinner, for drinks, for sightseeing, to hang out. Sometimes by myself, but most of the time with people who I got to know or had known online for a bit, and sometimes even with Blues fans who send me messages on Twitter that wanted to show my around, buy me lunch. So very kind!
What is your fondest memory of your trip?
There are so many to choose from. Everybody I’ve met, every conversation I had, every smile I saw on people’s faces and the sheer joy and excitement for the Blues and how sports can bond a whole city. No matter if you are rich or poor, white or black, liberal or conservative, et cetera. But regarding the Blues itself, the fondest memory, of course, was the win in Game 7 and in the days after seeing the Stanley Cup and being able to touch it myself because I was in the Wheelhouse at the right time and place! That is special already for you guys, imagine how special it is for someone from around the world.
How do you keep up with the team now? Other than watching games, what do you do to stay informed?
Like always, I read up on everything concerning the Blues. Most of the time, through local media outlets like KMOX, KMOV, ESPN 101, the Post-Dispatch, and I even have a subscription on The Athletic to read Jeremy Rutherford’s articles. I use the NHL app for videos on game day, previews, and reactions afterward. And I am, of course, very active on Twitter and Facebook as Dutch Blues fan.
Do any of the people you met in the US stay in touch with you since you returned home?
Yes, I have been in touch with a lot of them. It is great to keep that going: my fandom isn’t over now just because the Blues won that Cup. On the contrary: when you are a real fan, you are a fan for life. For better or worse.
Gerard and Blues owner, Tom Stillman
Do you have a planned return trip to St. Louis any time soon?
If it were possible, I’d be there now! I love it. All those people who said ‘you should stay here, you could live here’; well, they were not far off. I would fit in well with the people and fans of St. Louis. I will certainly be back! Some people say I should write a book about the trip last June, with its feel-good aspects and fairytale ending, the stories behind the crowdfunding and what I witnessed as a foreigner in St. Louis… So maybe I should write that and come back for the playoffs to promote it and visit again. I love the city and the Blues fans.