My memories of the football world cup go back a couple of decades. World cup matches were mostly in the middle of the night and I remember trying to wake up and watch most of them. This was only my chance to see the players, I had read about, in action. More than the football this was also, apart from the BBC World Service, my only exposure to a truly global platform. The different playing styles, the colours, the fans, the songs and the beautiful game. The fact that India never got even close to qualifying made it even better for me because I could watch it for the love of the game and the tournament. This has so far been the most exciting world cup I have ever seen and we are still not in the second round.

Even though India was not playing I started to follow the Dutch team. The team stood out to me in its very distinctive style of football, the fans who were the most colourfully dressed and the sense of drama that always accompanied the team. Some of my favourite players were in that team and they seemed to me, after Brazil, to be the most exciting team and always wanting to score one more goal than their opponents. Infact the only book on football that I have read was on Dutch football !  The book (A Brilliant Orange) looked at how the footballing culture represented changes in the wider Dutch culture. The Dutch had a good last World cup where they came as runners up to Spain but their style of football was so off putting that it seemed that the manager had picked the rugby team to represent the country in a football tournament.

So I was extremely nervous when I sat in a pub full of Spanish supporters to watch the Netherlands vs Spain league match. My ambitions were pretty low, I just wanted the Dutch to play their distinctive style of attacking football. By the end of the match I had lost my voice out of shouting and the Spanish supporters had lost theirs out of shock. I had expected the team to combust in the next 2 league matches but so far they have both played well and won! (the Dutch are very capable of plying well and losing or playing bad and winning).

Maybe this time is finally going to be their World Cup, maybe they will go out in the second round. To me they’ve already played much better football than the last world cup. GO HOLLAND!!

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