Amsterdam Crusaders: defending and 18 time Dutch national champions, won a total of two Eurobowls in 1991 and 1992, runner-up in last year’s EFL Bowl.
The Amsterdam Crusaders is the largest, oldest and most successful American football club in the Netherlands. The club was founded in 1984 and can look back on a very rich history.
The founding fathers consisted of several members of the now-defunct Amsterdam Rams. One of them was headcoach Winston Ronde. The team, nicknamed the Cru, developed very quickly. One year after the start a second team was established, and in 1986 the Cru moved in to their own accommodation in Amsterdam.
The Cru have compiled an impressive list of accomplishments in their over 30 years of existence. They have been Dutch national champions for many years in a row and performed in five Eurobowl finals with two wins. Here’s a chronological overview.
In 1987, just three years after their first game ever, the Cru were able to win their first Dutch National Championship. In the following year, 1988, the Crusaders performed in a Eurobowl finale for the first time. The Cru now was one of the European top clubs. In the next edition of the European bowl in 1989, the Amsterdam based club made it to the Eurobowl finals but unfortunately lost this thriller from the Legano Frogs with a slight difference: 27-23.
In 1990, the third Euro bowl-crusade didn’t get beyond Manchester. The Manchester Spartans tackled three Cru-attack waves in the fourth quarter and eventually managed to bring home the European title.
1991 and 1992 were real Eurobowl victory-years for the Amsterdam Crusaders. During Euro bowl V (’91) the Crusaders beat the Berlin Adler with 21-20 in Offenbach, Germany. In Eurobowl VI (’92) in Sweden, the Cru was a size too big for the Torino Giaguari (42-12). In the same year a NCAA regular season game was played against San Francisco State University (II division) in San Francisco. This game was lost with 28-00.
In 1993, the Belgian Heizel Stadium (now called the King Boudewijn stadium) was the setting for Euro bowl VII. The Crusaders made an unprecedented third straight appearance in that final but were turned back by the London Olympians.
When the FLE (European competition) was founded in 1994 the Amsterdam Crusaders was one of the top teams selected. In both 1994 and 1995 the Cru made it to the play-offs. Unfortunately the FLE only excisted for two years.
In 1996, the Cru returned to Dutch soil, winning the championship in the second division. After returning to the first division in 1997, the Cru picked up where they left off, winning the national title (Tulip Bowl) in 1998 and 1999.
The 2000 season marked a new millennium and a new beginning for the Dutch team. After losing several key players to retirement, new head coach Marcus Muler spearheaded a rebuilding program that began to pay dividends in 2002. Muler, a former Amsterdam Admirals coach and general manager, joined forces with chairman John Mahnen, to lead their club to five consecutive national championships from 2002 to 2006. In 2008, the Crusaders again reached the national championship game and managed to revenge their loss a year earlier to the Maastricht Wildcats, beating them in the Tulip Bowl held in Arnhem.
Entering the 2009 season, the Cru, led by quarterback Claudio Bartollozzi and a deep array of running backs, were able to beat the Farnham Knight and Olso Vikings and were stopped in the semi final of the EFLcup against the future champion Prague Panthers.
In 2010 the Cru played against the Cougars from St Quen l´Aumone and the London Blitz but did not get through to the semi final. In 2011 the Cru played London again in Great Britain and received the Firebats from Spain in Amsterdam.
The years 2012/2015 consisted of rebuilding the team under the new head coach Winston Ronde.
This ended in participating in EFL again in 2015, against Allgau Comets and Badalona Dracs, and winning the Tulipbowl (national championship).
In 2016, after more then 30 years, the Cru left the Cru-Home for a new and better equipped accomodation at Sportpark Sloten in Amsterdam. Again the Crusaders participated in the EFL and made it to the finals. German opponent Samsung Frankfurt Universe managed to beat the Cru with 35 – 21.
This year, 2017, Amsterdam Crusaders will perform in de BIG6 tournement. In their first game on april 22nd in Amsterdam they will meet the New Yorker Lions from Braunsweig.