Saturday, April 3, 2010

Flash of oranje

The real reason why totaalvoetbal lost the 1974 World Cup Final?
Start there and end here.

Hearing is sometimes believing.

Whatever the motives that fueled the editors of Bild Zeitung, whether anti-Dutch agitprop or simply pre-TMZ nonsense, and whatever damage control from the lips of Netherlands coach Rinus Michels would have succeeded or failed post-report, to those stakeholders unwilling to truly listen, certain facts remained undercover. Even if certain members of the Netherlands football side and their female German companions did not. Skinny dipping and champagne? Who's to say?

A bowl of cashews?

Someone, that's who.

The telephone was glued to the ear of star forward and pitch magician Johan Cruyff the following night as he pleaded with his wife that this was nothing but a fabrication, that he was as faithful as ever. The contents of the large, porcelain bowl were glued to the fingers of his teammates. The nuts, brought to the previous evening's party by one of the German girls, were ambrosia to the confident Dutch and, as they dwindled in number, began to be fought over, first playfully, then with a slightly ferocious, yet drunkenly askew resolve. A fly on the wall would have seen no alcohol in the room, only the increasingly bizarre behavior of the world's most enthralling outfit.

After a night's rest -- only the players themselves can confirm whether it was good, bad or ugly -- both teams took the pitch only to experience a slight delay as someone had forgotten to place the corner flags in their proper location. For the Dutch, their proper location was in the hearts and minds of football fans young and old. Seventeen passes and a penalty. The Germans hadn't touched the ball a single time before it was 1-0.

German forward Gerd Müller, Der Bomber, flashed a grin seen by no one.

Colors, the colors, something was very wrong with them. The no-longer-green grass heaved and twisted, not as during an earthquake, but as if Euclidean space itself was being permanently altered into something incomprehensible. There wasn't a goal, wasn't a cache of heavenly white mesh, only that No-Longer-Green. What the stadium audience, and the billions watching on television perceived as arrogance as the Dutch flitted and floated and weaved over the carefully graded rectangle and around the Germans was anything but. The man who had scored on the penalty shot, forward Johan Neeskens, coolly remembered a wonderful feeling of elation from the distant past, and he tried to grasp it, his hands moving through the pink and chartreuse kit of the opposition. No, it is gone, he thought to himself. Perhaps asking for help.

Willem van Hanegem took the gift. Then Wim Jansen. Johnny Rep.

An interloper.

Wave after wave of usurpers to the throne with three heads and twenty legs.

Then a diving masterclass by Bernd Hölzenbein, 10.0 from the English judge and Paul Breitner's gold medal shot. 1-1.

Cruyff panicked in that placid way cerebral masters do, sliding back to help on defense as the Germans continued their onslaught, those twenty-legged interlopers brandishing their bloody glaives and forked purple tongues, cutting angular swaths through the swelling earth.

At last, their general appears, the devil. Der Bomber. A relentless push, a crafty tip back, decidedly Euclidean space cleared of Oranje and a crawling centipede through frozen keeper Jan Jongbloed and into the cradling arms of that heavenly white mesh. 1-2.

Half time came and went for the Dutch, and the undulating soil soon regained the elegant proportion so reminiscent of their native Holland. Their reality that would gleefully eschew our inept simulacra, would mock our pretensions to proper space and form, dissipated as quickly as a springtime shower. Beautiful totality vanished along with the symphony of blood and monsters, replaced with a human violence, volley after volley threatening to decapitate Jongbloed's opposite, Sepp Meier. Those who had tuned, turned and dropped were now once again men. Woodwork hits, turfed craters, desperation.

The final whistle.

In the subsequent chaos, a reporter manages to corner the world champion Müller, asking a garbled, ridiculous question on the game-winner, his last international goal. His answer is equally as garbled, ridiculous. "Ich liebe Cashewnüsse!"


Sherry Peyton said...

I take it this doesn't have anything to do with the Final Four?

Holte Ender said...

Der Bomber, loved only one thing more than Cashewnüsse, scoring goals, and he did plenty of that. Lovely historical tale.

David Barber said...

A great story, Randal. I'venoticed you you've done a few "footy" posts laely. Gearing yourself up for the World Cup mate?

Roll on June 12th. :-)

La Belette Rouge said...

If there is an award for post-modern sports writing I feel sure you would win it.

Randal Graves said...

sherry, it's a subliminal message directing Duke to lose this evening.

holte, wish I could have seen a lot of these greats live on the tube. Thank Pelé for YouTube, at least.

Never trust the duplicitous Deutschen.

david, if by gearing up you mean preparing myself for the inevitable American group stage flameout, then yes.

So as much as I'd love to make a wager for June 12th, it ain't happening. ;-)

LBR, if the past falls in a story and no one is around to read it, does it make a postmodern sound?

Liberality said...

Duke will lose: consider it done. ;~)

Tom Harper said...

"Ich liebe Cashewnüsse!" -- Well, was nicht zu lieben?

Beach Bum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beach Bum said...

...elegant proportion so reminiscent of their native Holland.

What I remember of my time in Amsterdam was a coffee house were the smell alone could have turned me positive on a drug test, never wanted brownies so bad in my life.

The other important memorable event was my stroll down Amsterdam's Red Light District which I......

That is a story that will never see the light of day until I am long dead. Long story short, Holland was less elegant for me and more cheap and dangerous fun.

Randal Graves said...

liberality, ahem. ;-)

tom, gliebenfliebensieben!

BB, you can't tease us with Tales of Amsterdam and not spill the weed, I mean, beans.

Flannery Alden said...

Their reality that would gleefully eschew our inept simulacra, would mock our pretensions to proper space and form, dissipated as quickly as a springtime shower.

I know that's English and it sure sounds pretty...But I have no idea what it means. And I thank you for that. I love it when English sounds foreign.

I'll chew on it and ponder.

Doc said...

I feel like I should have done some research for this one. You never fail to impress me.


Crybbe666 said...

Randal, I love coming here and throwing away the English handbook and discovering a whole new language. Thanks mate!

Randal Graves said...

flannery, that was mostly a fancy way of imitating Nelson Muntz.

doc, if you're feeling literary, check out David Winner's Brilliant Orange. Doesn't focus completely on the 1974 national team, but it's a good read nonetheless.

crybbe, thanks old man. I think sometimes I get a bit too purple, but I like purple.

Dr. Zaius said...

There no news like Cashews!

Aw, nuts. ;o)

Nicole E. Hirschi aka CJT said...

This was great Randal, and just think, I wonder who paid the extra tab on the girls the night before the game... oh wait - no I don't it was the wives!

I think that was my favorite part!
(psst - sorry I'm so late for reading... don't tell anyone but I didn't get the job...)