Two uncannily similar defeats in one week against the Netherlands mean that Cymru are up against it in Nations League A Group 4. In normal circumstances I would be spitting feathers, breaking crockery and howling at the moon in response to both our outrageous misfortune and our newly-acquired propensity to concede late goals immediately after scoring – but normal circumstances no longer exist: WE’VE QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP AND NOTHING MATTERS ANY MORE!!
It’s so liberating: the ball and chain has been unshackled and the albatross around our neck is no more, he said mixing metaphors. Oh the sheer pleasure of not caring! How I wish somebody had told me about the joys of indifference and apathy years ago!
That said, it must be mentioned after the 1-2 defeat in Cardiff (94th minute Dutch winner after 92nd minute Welsh equaliser) and the 3-2 defeat in Rotterdam (93rd minute Dutch winner after 92nd minute Welsh equaliser) that the head-to-head record against Yr Iseldiroedd/Netherlands/Nederlanden/Holland (take your pick) is now a shocking: P10, W0, D0, L10, Goals F8-A29. Yes, that’s right, it’s a 100% loss rate, easily our worst record against any other country on the planet*. Even a draw seems to be out of the question against our ultimate bogey-team.
The English language is awash with pejorative and derogatory terms about the Dutch, a legacy of the many naval wars between the two imperialist, colonising rivals during the 17th and 18th centuries. A few survive today although most have gradually fallen into disuse.
Dutch agreement – agreement made when drunk
Dutch auction – lowest bidder wins
Dutch bargain – deal made when drunk
Dutch comfort – consoled that things could be worse
Dutch concert – loud group of drunks
Dutch courage – false courage induced by alcohol
Dutch cure – suicide
Dutch generosity – stinginess
Dutch gold – copper/zinc alloy
Dutch headache – hangover
Dutch leave – going AWOL
Dutch reckoning – overcharging
Dutch uncle – a disapproving killjoy
Dutch widow – a prostitute
Dutched – cancelled
Double Dutch – gibberish
Beat the Dutch – do better than expected
Go Dutch – pay for yourself only
In Dutch – in trouble
Or I’m a Dutchman! – expression of disbelief
This list is typical of the insulting, stereotyping slurs the English like to coin to elevate themselves, diminish others and disguise their gigantic inferiority complex. In Cymru we have experienced such abuse for centuries and, although our history is very different from that of the Netherlands – particularly in our being on the receiving end of violent annexation rather than dishing it out – in our shared slandering by the Sais we have a lot in common. The very word ‘Dutch’ is itself an English bastardisation of ‘Deutsch’, meaning Germanic people, and is not used by Netherlanders as a word for either their language or themselves. In this regard it is similar to the word ‘Welsh’, another ignorant and inaccurate tag imposed by the English and hopefully destined for linguistic obsolescence. So, please Uncle Ruud, be nicer to us next time…
The only other points I want to make about the Netherlands matches is that the Cardiff defeat brought our all-time record unbeaten home run of 17 to an end, Gareth Bale’s penalty in Rotterdam took his all-time record goal tally to 39 and Chris Gunter’s substitute appearance in Rotterdam raises his all-time appearance record to 109. Sandwiched between the two games Wales got off the mark in the Nations League (commencing another long unbeaten home run?) with a good 1-1 draw against Belgium, bringing that particular head-to-head tally to P16, W5, D5, L6, Goals F23-A22.
Generally Wales performed very well in this flurry of games against the cream of Europe following the Ukraine euphoria. Quite rightly Rob Page used the opportunity to blood fringe players and look at the new generation coming through. Given that the 2021/22 football season is (at last!) over and there will be only two more Welsh matches before the World Cup in November – the remaining Nations League fixtures away to Belgium and home to Poland in September – Page will now have a pretty good idea who will be on the plane to Qatar, injuries notwithstanding. Those who must have forced their way into the World Cup squad are the speedy, creative Brennan Johnson, who notched his first two Welsh goals; the dynamic Rhys Norrington-Davies, who with Neco Williams gives Page an abundance of riches at left wing-back; and versatile attacker Sorba Thomas. Among those who have done themselves few favours are midfielder Matt Smith and utility player Wes Burns, both of whom looked far from international quality. But what do I know, he added with unconvincing humility…
OK, that’s enough soccer until World Cup build-up in the Autumn. Cor!
Wales have so far met 77 different countries in international football, six of which no longer exist (Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Ireland [pre-partition], USSR, West Germany & Yugoslavia). Therefore Wales have yet to play 138 of FIFA’s current 209 members. Six of those 138 will be at the World Cup in Qatar (Cameroon, Ecuador, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal & South Korea). None of them are in Wales’ group but progression into the knock-out stages could see some brand new opponents for Cymru.