Dutch fans at the Scottish Arms
were less than lively. The Clockwork Orange won the match 2-0 amidst many yawns and gentle applause that was better suited for a golf tournament than watching a World Cup victory in a bar.
This time around, at Barrister's
in Clayton, the Holland contingent was considerably more animated. It probably helped that their country upset Brazil, the seemingly unstoppable, goal scoring machine that knocked the Netherlands out of the tournament in both 1994 and 1998, and advanced to the semi-finals.
One fan wearing a bright orange polo shirt named Michel shouted in Dutch at the TV almost the entire second half. Depending on how his team was faring, he looked like he was either on the verge of an ulcer, cardiac arrest or orgasm. When the final seconds ticked off the clock in added time and the referee blew the whistle, setting his side's 2-1 victory in stone he jumped up and down and yelled at one point, "Revenge!"
Barrister's has to be the least pretentious bar in Clayton. The standings for the English Premier League are tacked on one wall, along with dozens of scarves from (mostly) British clubs and all sorts of other sundry soccer souveniers. A large American flag dominates the bar, which is a pretty, chocolate-brown wood affair with a brass foot rail.
The breakfast menu was short but very solid, anchored by a gigantic croissant sandwich that came with scrambled eggs, cheddar and a choice of hickory bacon or sausage patties. The hockey puck-sized patties dripped grease and popped with peppery spice. Hoping for some Dutch mojo, a Heineken was the drink of choice.
The sizable crowd was an eclectic blend of hooky-playing businessmen, lawyers and bankers with a whole lot of Orange-clad Netherlands fans and a few neon-yellow shirted Brazil supporters sprinkled in for good measure.
One guy, wearing a tweed suit jacket, described how he just left a court case so that he could watch the match -- even though he had no rooting or gambling interest. "I just took the court docs and said, 'Here, you handle this,'" he said. "I have to see this. I know I should be pulling for somebody to win but with two great teams, as long as their scoring it'll be a great match."
His prediction proved correct. Brazil took the lead early on when Felipe Melo
delivered a flawless, bending pass through the middle of the Dutch defense. Robinho
took it off the hop and, with just one touch, slapped a grounder past the goalkeeper.
The Dutch continued to play carelessly throughout the first half, allowing Brazil several good looks at the goal. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg
made the best save of the tournament, fully extending his body and deflecting a scorching shot from Kaka.
The Netherlands, though, were a different team in the second half. They maintained control of the ball in the Brazil half of the field and finally scored on a corner kick from their superstud Wesley Sneijder
that deflected off the head of Brazil's Felipe Melo. Sneijder struck again in the 68th minute, putting his bald dome on the ball and pushing it into the back of the net.
The Dutch natives in the house -- named Thijs and Frances; the much younger half of the original Scottish Arms crowd -- roared in approval, high-fiving each other, shaking their fists and texting everyone they knew on their cell phones.
The match turned ugly soon afterward. Brazil lost their composure and screamed at the referees after every call. Felipe Melo stomped on a Dutch player's leg, drawing a red card and an ejection from the game. Brazil still held their own playing a man down but the Netherlands milked the clock and emerged victorious.
Michel, a look of pure elation on his face, exhaled a deep breath, drained his bottle of Beck's and said to the bartender, "I'm going to need another one of these."
During their Netherlands' 6:30 a.m. group stage match against Denmark a few weeks back, the