world cup

Netherlands Fans Stoic, Heavily Accessorized in Defeat


Eighth and last in an irregular series of encounters with expat World Cup fans. (See also: Brazil, South Korea, Ghana, Algeria, England, Germany, Uruguay.)

Match: Spain 1, Netherlands 0.

Location: Mars 2112, 1633 Broadway.

The Draw: Despite founding this city, the Dutch no longer have a restaurant or bar to call their own. “Probably says something about our food,” one fan said. Tonic had been their World Cup headquarters, but it couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to see the final. So the overflow mob headed to the 35,000-square-foot Mars 2112 tourist trap. It’s orange, after all, and already hosts the country’s annual Queen’s Day festivities.

Scene: Times Square belonged to the Netherlands in the hours leading up to Sunday’s final. Oranje fans were everywhere, either trying to elbow their way into Tonic or congregating in other nearby bars. Two hours before kickoff at Mars 2112, Simon and Katrina Stronkhorst were just hoping 15-month-old Rohan wouldn’t make them leave the party early. Dutch fans were flooding into the gigantic underground area that looks like, you know, a space cave, and the way this crowd was dressed they could’ve been Martians. These aren’t your soccer-jersey-only kind of crowd; they accessorize, all in orange: suspenders, balloon hats, crowns, fuzzy antennas, knee socks, overalls, top hats, feather boas, chef’s hats, etc.

Twenty minutes before the game, the Stronkhorsts changed Rohan’s diaper on the carpeted floor of the bar area so they wouldn’t miss any action. Simon, 32, predicted a 2–1 Holland victory, and he’s an actuary so his guess carried some weight. But by halftime, nobody had scored and Rohan, wearing an orange jersey with his name on the back, got a bit cranky. He climbed back into his stroller and put his foot in his mouth, which made him a happy boy. “I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign,” Simon said, joking that his son was like the soothsaying octopus. “He’s eating his left, so we’ll win on a left-footed goal!” Wrong on both counts. Spain triumphed off Andres Iniesta’s right foot in extra time. The stunned crowded quietly filed out. “The Dutch are very big on appearing sober and not getting too excited over anything,” Simon said. “We love to win, but we don’t get too angry if we lose.” Meanwhile, Spanish fans suddenly appeared on the street, cheering while passing through the orange hordes, who paid little mind. Spain soon took over the area completely, congregating at Father Duffy Square and filling the air with victorious song.

Netherlands Fans Stoic, Heavily Accessorized in Defeat