Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guest Post: A Dutch fan rejoices

In the spirit of the competition, we'll try to bring in fans to write about their country's ups and downs throughout the tournament, and with the Dutch bringing the biggest talking points so far, head below the jump to get a Dutch perspective from Joep, a Dutch native who's enjoying the tournament back home.

The only thing I could offer at this point is: welcome to the world stage, Gio!

Of all the adjectives that have been used over time to describe Dutch football – brilliant, outdated or perennially disappointing – “modest” is conspicuously absent from the list.

Because while the international attitude to the Dutch has become increasingly impatient and you’ve all started to lump us together with other countries that spectacularly fail to deliver upon their promise every single time, we still firmly expect our boys to win each and every tournament they enter, but only through a glorious display of attacking football and anything less than about 87% possession and 66 shots on goal just won’t do.

And that was before we thumped the reigning World Champions three to nothing.

It took us a while to get used to the idea of actually outplaying a team like Italy. We’ve showed spells of pretty football before, but spells, inherently, do not last an entire game. Completely unfamiliar with the possibility of success, we naturally assumed the good start against the Italians was a nice stretch, but nothing more than that. After about thirty-five minutes, we figured, familiarity would reassert itself and for the remainder of the game, we would all be treated to an endless string of uninspired passes between our two centre halves, neither one particularly apt with the ball at his feet. Only we weren’t.

The emerging noise of car horns entering the room in which we all sat and contemplated what had just happened woke us up from our shell shocked state of confusion, disbelief and unbridled happiness. About six years ago, the sizeable Turkish population in Holland took to the streets in similar fashion celebrating their third place at the World Cup.

When we got up and left after the game ended, walking towards the station sporting orange, we were passed by people hanging out of their car windows celebrating, waving flags and singing.

This was in one of the least-Dutch neighbourhoods and streets in all of Holland.

I could go into the details of the game here. I could write how Boulahrouz proved quite a few critics wrong by his strong defensive display against the Italian-in-form Di Natale. Or I could write how Gio van Bronckhorst, too old for the big leagues and demoted to the hugely inferior Dutch Eredivisie, had the game of his life at age thirtysomething. (Ed. Note: Gio is 33] I could write how much we love it that the Italians weren’t even that poor – they created plenty of chances to make a game out of it but ultimately lacked enough support from midfield.

I could write about any of those details as much as I want but there is one thought that is far, far more important to every single Dutch person, even though they might not know it, themselves; we got a bit of our respectability back, which we completely and utterly lost in the disgrace that was our final game of the last World Cup.

Yesterday, Holland played like every single Dutchman and everyone non-Dutchman wants it to play – only with the unexpected bonus of a result we still cannot really believe.


Mike Georger said...

im pulling for the dutch, but rest assured the criticism Boulahrouz got at chelsea was well deserved. you cant concede a penalty that gifts united the league without expecting to take a bit of heat

Joep Smeets said...

Oh I completely realize he did poor for Chelsea. But he isn't nearly as bad a defender as the British have made him out to be. He was stellar for HSV and important for Holland, too. He only played about a dozen games for Chelsea, and of course there's little time to adjust at a club where the stakes are so high. I am convinced that he would have done better if he would have gotten a chance to get used to the EPL at another club first.

Mike Georger said...

i agree with that, saw today that marseille have declared their interest in him, so hes still going to be at big clubs getting alot of playing time.
then again bolo zenden plays for marseille

hockalees said...

Maybe this win will get a new cash infusion to the Dutch national team so they can stop using white stick tape for the player's numbers on the back of their kits.

I keeeed...(not really)