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Republican Orangemen

May 11th, 2010 by · 3 Comments · Betting, Features, Football

As this country stands, looks at each other, and asks ‘who’s in charge’ I get that thrill of nostalgia for the Amsterdam of the late 60s [yeah, I can remember]. While every hippie in Europe sat around in a cloud of hash and patchouli off Dam Square another revolution was taking place just down the road.

Don't mention the war - or bicycles

Don't mention the war - or bicycles

The Ajax team of the late 60s and early 70s, and the Dutch national side that made it to the finals in 74 and 78, were, in the words of David Winner, the closest a major football team has ever come to a ‘workers co-operative’.

As the oldest republic in Europe the Dutch have a strong tradition of challenging the rules. However, that tendency within the national football team has often been its downfall.

In the 1974 final, having scored in the first minute, they decided to humiliate the Germans instead of finishing the job. They paid the price. Internal disputes saw key players refusing to join the squad for the 1978 finals. Again, they lost in the final.

Amazingly they didn’t qualify again until 1990 where they went out in the second round to Germany amid much mullet, perm and spittle. Then it was 94 and exit in the quarter-finals, 98 and failing at the semis, and 2002 when they did not qualify. The last outing was 2006 and saw a second round defeat by Portugal with 16 yellow and 4 red cards. Say what you like about the Dutch but they are never good losers.

This sorry record in World Cups comes despite having some of the best players to have ever graced the tournament. Here’s just some – Johann Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Dennis Bergkamp, Overmars, Rijkaard, Koeman, Davids and more. Before every major tournament there is talk of Holland being a team with a future.

So, what about this time? One of our best loved football writers, Brian Glanville, believes that, in a tournament that lacks a ‘great’ team, Holland have the players to put the future behind them. As he says – ‘given the electric, goal scoring, form of Arjen Robben, the highly incisive striker, Robin Van Persie, and the versatile form of Wesley Schneijder, I believe Holland should be seen as one of the favorites’.

Well, if you add to that list Huntelaar, John Heitinga, Mark von Bommell, Nigel de Jong, Rafael van der Vaart, Kuyt and Babal you can see what he means. The bookies seem to agree. Holland have moved from 8th favorites in January to 5th this week. Some interesting bets are:

  • 13/1 Holland to win it
  • 22/1 A Spain/Holland final
  • 33/1 Van Persie as top scorer
  • 80/1 Arjen Robben as top scorer – got to be worth an Ayrton!
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