For once in my life I’m in the right place at the right time. Maybe a certain football stadium in Johannesburg would be a better place to be on Sunday evening, but Amsterdam will do me fine. Even bigger TV screens are being installed in the pubs and the parks and the orange t-shirts are already being printed – “NEDERLAND WORLD CHAMPIONS 2010”.
Meanwhile the bakers are busy pouring gallons of orange icing onto vanilla slices, a confection nobody should ever put in their mouths other than for patriotic reasons. Red,white and blue flags are being printed in their thousands.
A psychologist appeared on TV to tell us that the ‘happiness level’ in Holland has now increased to 8.0, nearly level with Denmark, the happiest country in Europe with 8.2, even though their team didn’t make it through the preliminary stages. This spike in the average Dutch happiness level could in part be attributable to the mood of the researcher himself, who looked overjoyed to be interviewed on national television.
Spain is the team the Dutch will have to beat. Surprisingly, Spain and Holland have never met in a World or European Cup match. Ideally the Dutch would have liked revenge on losing semi-finalists and arch enemies Germany. (Don’t mention the war, or the time Germany came from behind to beat Johan Cruyff’s ‘total football’ team in the World Cup Final 1974.) But Spain it is. A while back, Real Madrid dropped two Dutch stars, Sneijder and Robben, as being surplus to requirements, so they’ll be out to show the Spaniards what a mistake that was.
When the Dutch national anthem ‘Wilhelmus’ is played before the match, pay attention to the strange lyrics. Oranje footballers are not renowned for their diction, and not all football fans are familiar with the Dutch language, so I’ll help you out… The folk song begins with the words ‘Wilhelmus of Nassau am I, of German blood’ and ends, ‘I am a free prince of Orange. I have always honoured the king of Spain’. No wonder the players will be mumbling their lines.