Muskoka To-DAILY

Dick Renes would have loved Holland’s World Cup semifinal – just not 4-2 loss to Argentina

GRAVENHURST — Dick Renes would have loved that Dutch vs. Argentina soccer match yesterday.

Mid 1960s Kinsmen Club soccer champions.

Mid 1960s Kinsmen Club soccer champions.

Not sure if he’d like the shoot-out (who does?), or especially the Netherlands goalkeeper Krul who was in the game before was in the face of the penalty shooters — successfully.

But he definitely wouldn’t have been happy that Argentina is going to the World Cup final against Germany Sunday.

Maybe a third-place win over Brazil Saturday would be consolation enough.

But doubtful.

Dick Renes passed away this winter in Holland. His daughter, Leona, called Jim Reid to tell him.

But his memory lingers for dozens of middle-aged Gravenhurst men today.

They were the foundation of a couple of decades of leading soccer players and teams with the GravenhurstHigh School in the 1960s and ’70s and right through to the early 2000s.

“Definitely,” says Brian Whitehead, a keeper who went on to become GHS athlete of the year in 1975 thanks to his Renes and his football start.

Renes worked at Rubberset and was a firefighter in town.

He and some other firefighters organized a minor soccer program — based on his Dutch upbringing.

He understood, like the German team going to the final, that youth development is the key to winning. Germany has 30,000 paid soccer coaches.

A half dozen teams sponsored by the fire department, Kinsmen, Rotary and Lions clubs among the sponsors, set up a weekly league for public school kids.

And after a few years of play at the high school field each spring, the kids were ready for the big leagues of high school.

And that’s where they really shone. They made GHS the top soccer school in Muskoka, with all three midget, junior and senior teams winning Muskoka-Parry Sound titles, Georgian Bay championships and a couple of trips to the Ontario finals.

They would regularly beat bigger schools from chief rival Bracebridge, Huntsville, Parry Sound and Almaguin.

“That start really helped us in high school,” said Whitehead, who played university intramural and city club soccer in London, Guelph and Waterloo.

Reid was another one of the young players, who credited Renes with building a local system that paid off later. He went to school at Bracebridge, along with a few other of Renes’ young stars.

Renes had long fond memories of those days, with fellow coaches Svend Clement, Charlie Hansen and Doug Smith.

He sent the attached Kinsmen team championship photo last year of this Kinsmen team, looking for a few more names.

He had most of them, including: back row left, himself, Rudy (?)Armstrong, Doug Smith, Ralph Hansen and Sven Clement (all firemen).

Middle row, left, Larry Baadsvik, Chris Doe, Tim Montgomery, Ed Knapp and Jim Reid.

Front, left, Rob Graham, Gerry Wardman, Phil Purdy, Bill Dueschene, Dave McWilliams, Rick Smith, Don and Ron Hansen.

If you know the missing names, email

Renes would be disappointed to see his efforts more than 50 years later falter, with the end of minor soccer in Gravenhurst this spring.

But maybe the interest in the World Cup will spur interest again and next year’s PanAm Games, with Hamilton the centre for 32 teams at its new Hortons Field Stadium.

And, on a final note, Renes, who coached and refereed in the league, would appreciate the dilemma Dutch national coach Louis Van Gaal faced in Wednesday’s semifinal.

Many were left wondering after the scoreless regulation time, why he didn’t switch to Krul for the shootout.

Everyone wanted to see if Krul would again tell the Argentineans he knew where they were going to shoot.

Van Gaal said he would have switched after extra time. But he had used up all three of his substitutions and didn’t have a chance to sub in Krul in the 4-2 shootout loss.

Renes was no doubt looking down from heaven and shaking his head.

Holland has never won a World Cup, but has made the final four times.

Maybe in 2018.

A lot of graying guys in Gravenhurst and graduates of the Renes school of soccer will be pulling for the Orange.

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