And Now...


The party is over. At least for today.

The collective mood in the hours leading up to the World Cup final on Sunday, July 11 2010 was so upbeat, so crackling with positive energy that it didn't seem possible that Holland could lose.

The streets and parks and bars were jammed, smiles everywhere, orange even more everywhere (sorry - my English also has a hangover).

Impromptu conga lines, the most amazing outfits ever conceived, and after a brief ominous grey lull, a sunny and clear late afternoon and evening - all this meant that some 2+ hours prior to kickoff, I already felt that I had experienced one of the greatest days of my life.

The day moved from cycling and soaking up the scene to meeting friends and witnessing Leidseplein's happy madness, moving through and boogying with the masses at Museumplein (singing K'naan's World Cup anthem with 100,000 = pretty awesome), and then settling in with friends at a packed neighbourhood pub for the game.

It all made the ending somewhat more bearable, really. It was like filling up the gas tank with so much enjoyment that there was still some left after it all. The loss was less crushing than it was deflating, numbing, like the air coming out of a big orange balloon.

And as much as people were hoping to share an all-inclusive party, there's some comfort in sharing a common sadness too.

Game notes:
  • The two teams both had their chances - Robben with the two most glorious ones. Fitting that they played in South Africa - it's true that no man is an island, but I bet Robben wishes he were on one right now.
  • For every complaint that Dutch fans may have about the number of yellow cards handed out, they're extremely lucky that de Jong's boot to Alonso's chest wasn't immediately a red.
  • The Oranje had every chance to win this game and played very well against a more talented Spanish side. Let's hope that the next chance comes sooner than 32 years from now.
Everyone was primed for a party - and wow can the Dutch party. And they don't stay down for long - biking home through a peaceful Vondelpark after midnight, I came across a group of about 25 Oranje fans holding an impromptu dance party right there on the pathway.

You can feel the country's sadness today, and my heart goes out to lifelong Nederlanders and the players who did the country very proud.

But with a terrorist bomb killing over 70 people watching the same match in Uganda, perspective (and a reminder as to how lucky we are) is sadly always close at hand.

Museumplein 3:30pm

Leidseplein 4:30pm

Leidseplein 4:30pm

Museumplein 6:oopm


Anonymous said...

experience >>>> final outcome

Jeff Funnekotter said...

Si, Anonymous. If I'm reading your comment correctly, the experience was far greater than the final outcome.

Anna said...

Hello Jeff,
cousin Anna here from Canada. As I sat with one lonely Dutch fan at a quiet Pub here in Stittsville I thought of you in the thick of it and smiled. As days pass I'm continually surprised at just how much I love football. I'm a big hockey fan but it doesn't touch me as much. The loss still sits like a stone in my stomach. I clearly remember 32 years ago, being a young teenager and traveling with my Dad all over the province to find arenas that were capable of bringing the games in via satelite. We we're crazy! Sitting in a packed full house at Maple Leaf Gardens Wow, times have changed. Thanks for sharing your story and I absolutely love the photographs you've posted. As a disappointed Dad said to me at least we are number two in the world, not bad for a country with 16 million people. Hup Holland Hup.
Hugs to you cuz!

Jeff Funnekotter said...

Thanks Anna! It was an amazing time to be here for sure. I imagine MLG was pretty cool too though... Big hug from here as well.