Friday, 2 July 2010

Going Dutch

In honour of Hull's Orange links (think King Billy, the Ferries and Phil Brown) I'm now supporting the Netherlands in the World Cup...

Tigers Tigers rah rah rah!

I was over it.  No, honestly, I was.  Things had moved on quickly since Sunday.  As my last post describes, the Easington lads are back in pre-season, we've confirmed a couple more friendlies and I've had a Committee Meeting to occupy my thoughts.
In addition, Hull City have appointed a new manager; a shrewd one in my humble opinion, in the form of former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson.  And Yorkshire's fine start to the season has continued with a draw in the Roses match that took them back to the top of the County Championship.  With a US-based server at work denying me access to live commentary from either South Africa or Wimbledon, this season's availability of all Tykes creekit matches streamed via Radio Leeds has been a godsend, especially given the gripping nature of this week's contest.
But then this morning, Victoria Derbyshire interviewed Lucas Radebe on Five Live about tonight's Ghana v Uruguay quarter-final...and the whole sorry episode that was England's 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign suddenly came crashing back into focus.
For had things turned out differently - I'm not saying by much, just a minute off the clock in the USA-Algeria match or, perhaps more decisively, a safer pair of hands by a certain England goalkeeper - and it could well have been us lining up against Diego Forlan and company this evening...
...But it's not.  And, given our struggle to get past Slovenia and the abject nature of the performance against Germany, it's fair to say that had we topped our group we may still have struggled to get past the Black Stars.  Anyway, we'll never know.
As it is, I'm now rooting for Holland, or should I say The Netherlands (what's all that about anyway?) for the remainder of the competition (which may be this tea-time given that they're playing Brazil).

The Great Deliverer...or Reliever?

Don't ask me why.  It's partly historical (Hull has strong links, well King Billy's Bogs in the Old Town and the fact that like many others I was mesmerised by Cruyff and co in West Germany 1974 and Arie Haan's shooting at Argentina '78); it's partly geographical (they're my local team out of those remaining); and partly - very - tenuous (the first Easington side I really followed played in "Brilliant Orange", which was then replaced by a version of the famous Dutch World Cup strip of the Seventies).  Oh, and their flag is red, white and blue.  Ahem.

 The Dutch - traditionally strong up top
Another reason stems from a Stag Trip to Amsterdam in June 1994.  Booked onto the Ferry from Hull as "eleven inspectors visiting Rotterdam Docks" (male-only parties were frowned upon then by the Ferry companies) we arrived in Amsterdam on the lunchtime of the memorable USA v Holland World Cup quarter-final of 1994.

Our intention was to support Brazil, given that the Dutch had eliminated England - aided, it must be said, by an awful refereeing display in the meeting of the two in Rotterdam the previous year (a game forever remembered thanks to Channel 4's brilliant  Do I Not Like That documentary).  However, buoyed by an afternoon spent enjoying the delights of the city's cafe culture (!) and finding ourselves surrounded by thousands of Oranje-clad beauties come kick-off time, we quickly changed allegiance.  Shallow I know but what the heck.
The game itself was a cracker, won 3-2 by Brazil after the Dutch had come from 0-2 down at one stage.
In the wake of the defeat there were scenes I've become all-too accustomed to over here when England exit tournaments - minus the glass throwing and aggro of course!
The two countries met again at the semi-final stage in France '98 with Holland this time everyone's favourite other team thanks to Bergkamp's goal that had disposed of the Argies in the quarters.  Again, though, the Brazilians prevailed.  
Perhaps it'll be third time lucky this afternoon...

Tomorrow, I'm at Beverley Races on a works freebie.  Had things turned out differently, I'd have alternated between the horses and an England-Argentina clash, for which there would surely have been screens provided.  It would have made for a cracking afternoon.  Instead, along with thousands, nay millions of others, I'm left to wonder what might've been...

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