Wednesday, July 12, 2006

ZiDam

As part of the grand finale of the World Cup Pub Crawl blog, we were all dispatched to various parts of the world. Pooch and Leah had France covered, as you've read below, and Kate was sampling the atmosphere in Italy. Dann, Fu, Arun and I had pulled the short straw and been packed off to Amsterdam to experience the World Cup final from a Dutch perspective.



We immediately discovered that the main street had been decorated with flags from every nation in the World Cup, as had various other streets across the city. I couldn't spot a St George's flag but I'm sure it was there somewhere.


We watched the 3rd/4th place play-off in a small and friendly bar, with a few Germans dotted about. We had planned to go for Portuguese tapas beforehand but had run out of time as our attempts to beat the mythical 100 million mark on word-search got slightly out of hand.

Even though we were watching the BBC1 broadcast, the commentary was in Dutch. This was initially pleasing, as we felt it all added to the experience, but there were two problems with it. Not for the first time during our travels, the commentary was ahead of the pictures. This largely spoiled any suspense about whether the attack would culminate in a goal as the noise of the crowd and level of the commentator's excitement would already have given the game away.


The second problem was that the commentary consisted almost entirely of the players' names. There was no analysis, which was fortunate for us since we wouldn't have understood it, but I'm surprised the Dutch put up with this week-in, week-out. I guess it must be for people with small TVs who can't tell who's on the ball...

We watched the final in a suitably packed bar with the French on one side of us and the Italians on the other.


The Italians danced around crazily for quite some time afterwards. I actually thought at one point, "Alright - calm down", and then I realised they had just won the World Cup, and tried to imagine how they must be feeling. Will us poor England fans ever get to experience that feeling?!

The French fans took it well, remaining unsurprisingly silent - presumably dumb-struck by the drama of the Zidane incident and the penalty shoot-out. At least England go out on penalties before the final, so that we all know we would never have won it playing like that anyway. The French, much like the Italians 12 years ago, know that one missed spot-kick cost them everything. I don't think we're ready for that disappointment...


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