One Billion Seconds to a heartbreak / Heartbreak in AmsterdamBy ANI
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
AMSTERDAM - I didn’t expect the day to end this way. I knew there would be a winner and a loser, that the Netherlands had as much a chance of losing as winning the World Cup, but I wasn’t ready for anything like this.
Preparations for the big day had started over the weekend. Amsterdam had turned orange. Shops, boats, cars, people were dressing up for the occasion - an opportunity to watch the Dutch team in a world cup finals, after 32 years. The last one against Argentina in 1978, had ended in a 3-1 drubbing at Buenos Aires. And while the Dutch may have been cynical about their team’s chances in South Africa, they sounded confident about their chances against Spain.
The go-to place was Museumplein, where giant screens had been put up for the match. There were flags, banners, hats, umbrellas and Vuvuzelas everywhere but I chose to watch the match at a pub about 5 minutes away, far enough from a 180,000 strong crowd, yet close enough to join them for celebrating through the night. The pub, except for its old brown wooden roof and a green neon sign reflection, was orange too, with about 150-200 people waiting for the match to begin.
There were young boys and girls watching their team play in the world cup finals for the first time and a few 45-50 year olds who were boys and girls 32 years ago, hoping their team would be third time lucky. There was a father with his one year old son and there was a lovely woman in a flamenco hairdo, with a big orange flower hair clip. And outside the pub, there were some Spanish supporters - a few spots of red and yellow in an otherwise orange city.
Chants of “Hup Holland Hup” and “Nederland oh Nederland, Jij bent de kampioen’ filled the air and as the match kicked off, it felt like there were a thousand people screaming at the top of their lungs. The energy was unbelievable, infectious, people were smiling, laughing, cheering, chanting, clapping and 10 minutes into the match, one could sense that Spain was the better team but the cheering continued, mixed with good parts of groans and disbelief when the first yellow card was handed. It was a good first half, the Dutch weren’t playing well, but they were in the game, and the mood was still relaxed, upbeat.
All that changed in the second half, there were more groans than cheers, smiling faces were now looking worried, fingernails were disappearing, frustration and tension had taken over. And when Robben wasn’t able to put the ball past Casillas in the 82nd minute, one could see resignation on faces, bracing for extra time. This tension was to last another 40 minutes, interrupted by howls and protests when Heitinga was sent off, and ended with horror and shock when Andres Iniesta scored the winner with 4 minutes left in the match.
As I rushed back towards Museumplein to take pictures, I ran into a crowd of a few thousand people - who only a few hours ago had marched in, blowing horns, singing songs, hoping that their wait would finally be rewarded with a victory. But this was not their night and they were walking back home dejected, shoulders slumped, faces glum and uneasily quiet. I knew what they felt, having gone through similar emotions when India lost against Sri Lanka in the 1996 cricket world cup semi finals. Their journey of a billion seconds had ended in heartbreak. I turned around to join them and walked back home.(ANI) By @thecomicproject : www.thecomicproject.blogspot.com