Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Fever - The Holland Game, A Canadian's View

I'm sitting here in a South African house huddled around a space-heater while the weather forecaster states that it will go down to minus 3 tonight and that snow has fallen in some parts of the country. I notice that the forecaster uses clucks in her speech and that the kids in a snowball fight behind her must be a rare sight. Two days ago, I was in the same seat when Daf, attired in a bright orange suit, came through the front door with Marcel on his heels. These were the house-guests I was expecting, but had no idea they would be Dutch fans. I was there to support Holland, so was quite happy. The orange clad Blues Brothers set to decorating a house that had only sported a few South Africa flags.

The next morning everyone was quite excited about the game and dressed in their finest orange. Daf was kind enough to give me a cool hat with red, white, and blue dinosaur spines across the top. Chantal, Daf's girlfriend had arrived in the night and soon some other fans showed up. We got a ride to the stadium in threes. About 2km from the stadium we got out of the car to walk due to the congestion. Every three cars we passed cheered, clapped or honked. As the enormous calabash stadium drew near people started to ask if they could get their picture taken with Marcel and Daf, and sometimes all of us.

Then began an extremely frustrating time of tracking down my tickets. Volunteers were either uninformed or misinformed; furthermore they were too few in number. We finally found someone who knew where we needed to go and escorted us there. We entered the stadium to find the Dutch party. Holland supporters usually party in a city square before the game and then follow a double-decker bus to the stadium, but here, likely due to the remote location of the stadium and security concerns, the party was inside the stadium. We sang songs, danced, drank, chanted, and cheered. Marcel and Daf gave a number of interviews, and I gave one. I was assured by the reporter that it would appear here.

My seats were pretty good and the vuvuzelas not nearly as loud as I'd thought they'd be (I still wore earplugs). All around me were jubilant when the Netherlands' side scored a goal rather than winning by an own-goal. Many after were not too impressed by the Dutch side, but everyone concluded that it's better to start a little slower than come out blazing and lose to the likes of Russia and Portugal. Robbyn's appearance when they need him should also add a huge flame to the fire. Hup Holland Hup.

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