Posts Tagged ‘Dutch


World Cup diary- Denmark – Holland game at Soccer City

The flight back to Holland was gonna be messy

The flight back to Holland was gonna be messy

With the World Cup three days old I finally managed to bag myself a ticket for the Holland – Denmark game. One of the tutors working on the newsroom had a spare ticket – for 14 quid no less!- so I thought it only polite to join her and her two mates for the match at Soccer City.

Despite one of our party being a Leeds fan- had I known this I’d never have gone, in fact I’d have told her to stick her ticket up her sheep bothering mate’s *rse- we actually put rivalry aside and remained civil.

We got a park and ride bus from Wits University, where it became obvious from the start that this was going to be like a Netherlands home game. The majority of white South Africans are descended from the Dutch so it was literally a case of spot the non-orange shirt as we made the shirt journey to the stadium.

Arriving at Soccer City, it was at least five minutes before I finally spotted some Danish fans, playfully headlocking an elderly Dutch fan as strangers took pictures.

The stadium itself reminded me of the spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and even more impressive was the amount of truly stunning supporters from both sets of fans.

After getting through the first barrier, which doesn’t get you into the stadium, but into the surrounding area, it was amazing to see so many fans from both countries, getting along so well. The Dutch may have outnumbered the Danes by at least 10 to 1 but it really didn’t matter, as fans were mingling, hugging and having a whale of a time with no signs of malice or antagonism.

Smurfs......I've absolutely no idea.

Smurfs......I've absolutely no idea.

I’d managed to dig out an old three stripe orange t-shirt, purely to fit in a bit rather than having any preference and as I wandered around with the members of my group it amazed me just how well everyone was getting on. I’ve never seen this sort of atmosphere at a football match before, it was heart-warming as fans from both set of teams took photos with each other and joined in with one another’s singing.

The weather also added to the occasion as it was getting quite hot, and as the Budweiser flowed- it’s the only beer sold at stadiums due to FIFA sponsorship, fans in an assortment of wacky outfits mingled cheerfully in the epitome of World Cup spirit.

There were even fans from other nations getting involved, I saw several Argentine fans, not to mention Mexico and Slovenia, there was even a Stoke City fan?!

I spotted a lad in an England shirt who was posing with a bloke in a Germany shirt, this was almost a bridge too far, what on earth was happening?

I spoke to the craziest England fan I’ve ever met and asked him what the f*ck he was playing at.

“Me and him work together, he’s the only German I know and he’s my mate. We both married South African women so we’re here together watching a few games.”

Amazing. It’s enough to make Winston turn in his grave. It’s a ridiculously friendly atmosphere which has been the story of my stay here so far.

Fans from around the world getting along, in the true South African spirit.

After entering the stadium I realised I needed to use a cash machine so joined a queue to wait and draw some money out. The line seemed to be made up entirely of Americans all waxing lyrical about the South African hospitality.

By the time we made our way to our seats the national anthems were in full swing- although to be honest I couldn’t tell you which one was first. The stadium was like a sea of oran…..erm, tangerine, sorry but I promised I wouldn’t use that term.

Around one in ten seats was empty but just to compound the Danes sense of being outnumbered the seats were orange coloured.

After admiring Dirk Kuyt’s new haircut, I took in the crowd, which was a mad mix of vuvu blowing locals, Afrikaans and the occasional section of Danes.

Soccer City - what a dump.

Soccer City - what a dump.

We were sat among a few hundred local school kids who’d been given tickets by Sony and Coke as part of an award scheme. It was truly an awe-inspiring sight seeing so many local African children blowing their vuvu’s and laughing and singing as the game progressed.

The strange thing about the match was not Holland’s 2-0 victory which was fairly predictable, but it was the only game I’ve attended which was bereft of any chanting. There was lots of vuvuzela blowing and clapping but no real chants. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a bit strange compared to what I’m used to.

Looking around the magnificent stadium I spotted a few England flags hung over the middle barriers, one said “Stockport Blues”- typical.

It was truly one of the best games of football I’ve ever been to, not because of the match, but just down to the atmosphere- a real ‘pinch yourself moment’- if this is how my first ever World Cup experience has started let’s hope it continues in the same vein. ‘Mint.’


World Cup Diary – Dutch training session

Some happy Holland fans, hopefully it'll all end in tears.

Bill Shankly once said of Everton: “If they were playing down the bottom of my garden- I’d draw the curtains.
While that may have been true from every Liverpool manager’s benchmark, the prospect of the Netherlands training in my ‘garden‘ made me do anything but draw the curtains.
Staying in Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg for the duration of the World Cup, I was informed that the Dutch team would be training in the stadium next to my block.
Despite a trip being organized by the tutor who’s leading the newsroom I’m working on for the next four weeks, which involved looking at Lions and Elephants, I decided I could always see Elephants anytime, but how often do you get the chance to see Dirk Kuyt miss from 2 yards?
So after grabbing a ticket from the University office- which was for the Grandstand seating no less- I joined the many assembled Dutch fans in the queue as we waited to be let in.
Holland are well supported here in South Africa as many white South Africans or Afrikaans are descended from the Dutch.
The Dutch fans mainly seemed to be South African residents although there were still a few who’d made the trip from the country that gave us legalized weed and clogs.
After two Wits Uni’ students and I had taken our seats in the Grandstand- think Unibond Prem- we waited for about fifteen minutes before the team arrived on the pitch.

Looking out into the ‘Sea of Orange’, sorry I promised myself I wasn’t going to say that but couldn’t help it- it struck me that there must’ve been at least a few thousand who’d turned up to see Bert Van Marwijk’s men.
As the team walked onto the pitch the sound of Vuvuzela’s –which had already been blaring intermittently- rose to a crescendo –with the shouts of ‘Robin’ or ‘Ryan’ or ‘Manchester United’ -for some inexplicable reason- barely audible.
The training session itself was fairly routine stuff, a bit of jogging and sprinting followed by passing and a bit of ‘keep ball.’
While the players had a bit of a breather I spoke to a couple of fans to see how they viewed their team’s chances.
After finally finding three lads from Holland- at the tenth time of asking- I got the lowdown on just whether they thought they really could go all the way.
Moike Sovavacs- I think that’s its name but to be honest he’s a little drowned out by Vavazula’s – from Rotterdam.
When asked how well he thinks Holland will do he says he believes they will be champions, pointing at his friend before adding he is from Brazil and even he thinks Holland are the best.
Speaking about the group he says with a big smile that he thinks it’s very easy and not until the second round does he expect any difficulty.
When I ask him which is the best Dutch player his smile fades slightly : “Robben….but he don’t come here.
“Other than him Van Persie, he is the best one now, he will make the goals now.”
When I ask him which teams he’s wary of, he lists Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain.

Jose Antonio is one of Moike’s friends and he tells me that he believes Holland will go far stating he’s ’90 per cent confident we will win.’
Again he believes the group stages will be easy and laments the loss of Robben but believes Wesley Sneijder is good enough to shoulder the burden, he also expects to meet Argentina in the final.

It’s now time for the Dutch team to play a match against each other so after the player’s move the goalposts to the edge of the 18 yard box, the game kicks off.
It was a fairly routine affair, with Dirk Kuyt volleying wide from two yards, Robin Van Persie looking a tad rusty to be perfectly honest and Sneijder holding onto the ball well. Klaas Jan Huntelaar rifled a first half winner, while Rafael Van Der Vaart hit the bar from twenty yards with the last kick of the game.

There was a slightly shaky moment for the assembled fans when Sneijder started limping and holding his foot after a challenge but he soon ran it off.

Overall the Dutch looked pretty impressive with Sneijder and Van Der Vaart being particular stand-outs.

I grabbed another fan just before the end and asked him the same questions I’d posed earlier- he was a little bit more pessimistic than the previous two, stating that he was worried about Argentina and Brazil- although he felt confident that they’d get through the group easily.

The team then did a final lap with much of the crowds chanting seemingly reserved for Robin Van Persie- although it was difficult to hear much as there were a few vuvuzela battles going on near me.
It struck me that none of the fans I’d spoken to, including the two South African students I’d gone to the session with, rated England as one of the top teams, maybe that’s a good thing, but who knows?

Vuvuzela battles- be afraid, be very afraid.

The sun was shining as we left the stadium to the sound of more vuvuzela’s- yes they do get very annoying and I’m dreading to think what several thousand are going to sound like- all in all not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.