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And stillness descended on Eindhoven

July 11th, 2010

Filed under: LIFESTYLE

This picture should be completely orange ... Oranje

I don’t know much about football but I did watch at least 116 minutes of it tonight with a kooky crew of Dutchies, Englishmen/women, a Turk and myself – an Aussie – at a backyard barbie right in the heart of Eindhoven. To me, it was an uneventful game that was pushed into excruciating extended time, which we were assuming would turn into a penalty shoot out. Four minutes to go, the dream that I’ve witnessed in the making this last month went up in a limp vaporous puff. When Iniesta scored for Spain to make it 1 – 0, and there was confusion about whether he was “buitenspel” (off-side), there was the frustrated buzz of objections but then there was absolute silence. Silence in this backyard amongst the 8 eyewitnesses, and silence all around in the night air that hung heavy and ominous; all night the threat of thunder and lightning (much anticipated) had pendulated over us, and instead transformed into the tragic weight of defeat.

Better luck next time Holland.

Not surprisingly I was reasonably detached; perhaps because I don’t understand sport very well and prefer to enjoy watching it as a phenomenon that captures a community’s imagination. My hostess, a sweet English woman, bit her nails and tidied up the backyard during most of the game, finding the tension unbearable. Others watched mainly in patient silence, but the absence of audible reaction when Spain scored was palpable.

I rode home immediately after the game, wondering whether there would be angry outbursts. But I swerved calmly through the night breeze, accompanied by the quiet mutterings of a people who cannot believe their misfortune; to be in a World Cup soccer final for the third time (1974 and 1978) and be utterly unable to witness 11 men convert a hope of a nation, into the actual possession of that highly coveted golden vessel.

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