The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

14

What’s the penalty for treason? For your Paris correspondent, supporting the Netherlands in Euro 2008 rather than his host country, the sentence was an evening of sublime football and explosive joy. By contrast, it was the French team and followers who were condemned to hard labour.

(Should our Irish readers judge us harshly, we need only mention that Ireland turned its back on the whole of Europe yesterday. Are you even watching European football any more?)

French striker Thierry Henry is disconsolate but Dutch fans behind him celebrate wildlyLast night Holland beat France 4-1 and played with a hyper-intelligent swagger, to borrow the words of David Winner, whose fantastic book ‘Brilliant Orange’ explains how Total Football expresses the Dutch psyche. Quite simply, this tournament is now Holland’s to lose.

Of course, they may yet lose it, seeing as how they’ve blown their share of World Cups and European Championships in the past. Bearing in mind that the reigning champions are dour Greece, football can be a game where rock beats scissors.

Your blogger watched the match in Le Port d’Amsterdam, a Dutch bar in the 2nd arrondissement (postal district) of Paris. At kick-off the tiny bar was packed, half French and half Dutch (with one Irishman in the latter camp). By the end, when Wesley Sneijder decided to run down the clock by scoring a sensational fourth Dutch goal, the place was nearly all orange. Needless to say, the atmosphere there was incredible. A Dutch news crew was on hand to film this cell of orange subversives; our readers in the Netherlands may have seen us up the front of the bar, deliriously happy.

Les bleus, meanwhile, must now defeat Italy on Tuesday night and hope that Romania don’t beat the Dutch. But at least their fans have character. 3-1 down, the French supporters in the bar started passionately singing La Marseillaise to encourage their team. Most of them blame coach Raymond Domenech’s conservative tactics and team selection; veterans like Thuram and Makelele looked past it, while young stars like Benzema and Nasri sat out the game on the bench.

 

Le Port d’Amsterdam is named after a song in French by Jacques Brel, a Belgian. Apart from showing joyous football, the bar’s DJs play kitsch, good-time soul and disco every Saturday night. If you’re in the French capital and up for a party, with none of the self-consciousness of most Paris clubs, we heartily recommend it.

Here’s Brel singing ‘Le Port d’Amsterdam’. Allez les oranges! Hup Holland!


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2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.