Agony Revisited: Please Take Pity On The Poor Dutch Fan
After watching the Dutch crash out of the EURO 2008 Soccer Championships a little earlier today, I decided that I had no choice but to, once again, write about the agony of being a Dutch soccer fan. Not wanting to repeat myself, however, I went back and re-read my "Pity The Poor Dutch Fan Rant" from the World Cup two years ago in Germany. But after having read what I had written back then I realized that there was no need to try and re-write what had already been put so perfectly. So, here, once again, are the opening and closing paragraphs from that sorrowful rant of the summer of 2006. Absolutely nothing, it seems, has changed.
How much more money can the bloody Dutch national team cost me, anyway? That is the question. And, really, can't the whole world feel the pain of all the fans of The Netherlands? I'm not just talking about all the Dutch people out there, I'm also talking about all the misguided non-Dutch dreamers who choose to call themselves fans of Dutch soccer. I mean, World Cups and Euro Championships come and go and year after year after year after year the Dutch crash out way before they should... 1998, 2000, 2006 (not to mention 2002 when they didn't even qualify for the World Cup!!). It's always the same old story. How many times can they let me down? Or, maybe the real question is, how many times can I be let down and still continue to believe? And, really now, how many bets - and how much money - are these bloody Dutch going to cost me in the end?
To be fair to the Dutch people, however, I should say that all my Dutch friends have warned me time and time again that to cheer for Holland is to suffer, but I always just thought they were being overly pessimistic. You know, living below sea level and all must make them feel a bit on edge and less-than-fully-optimistic about the future. But now I finally see that everything they told me was simply the truth and that to cheer for the Dutch is simply akin to self-flagellation.
So, there you have it. As it was in 2006, it is again in 2008.
Russia definitely deserved to win today, as they dominated the field, had the better chances, played an aggressive attacking style of soccer and were simply the better team. In the end they beat the Dutch at their own game. Which might have something to do with their Dutch coach, the brilliant Guus Hiddink. It definitely had something to do with Russian playmaker - and goal scorer - Andrei Arshavin, a relative unknown outside of Russia before this tournament, who had the game of his life and was, amazingly, the best man on the field by far. I say "amazingly" because he was playing against a team of Dutch superstars.
Tied 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes, the Russians took control in the 30 minutes of extra time and scored two more goals to win it 3-1.
It may be the longest day of the year today, but for all us Dutch fans it's going to feel like the longest night tonight. No one looked better in the opening round-robin stage of the tournament than the Dutch. No one scored more goals. No one had more flash. No one looked more unbeatable. And no one could have crashed out more spectacularly.
I'm not a religious man, but I beg that some deity or another will have mercy on all us Dutch fans and make the pain go away. With god on our side or not, I'm telling you one thing's for certain: This isn't happening again in South Africa in two years! That's right, I'm predicting it right here and now, Holland are going all the way at the World Cup in 2010. World Champions. Remember, you heard it here first!
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Saturday, June 21st, 2008
For more on EURO '08 click here: The Tenacious Turks and Delectable Dutch: An Early EURO 2008 Rave
And make sure to check out Comedian Steve Patterson On Soccer: Finally, The Game Fully Explained
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