The whole city was ready and waiting: all we had to do was get through that match against Excelsior and then it was time to party.
On my way to Stadhuisplein, I ran into hordes of jubilant supporters. They were yelling “Champions!”. There was an atmosphere of trust and solidarity. Today’s when we’ll be making it happen.
But it didn’t work out that way. The streets were cleared out, the broken glass swept up and the dream postponed. For another week.
The last time Feyenoord had won the Dutch championship was in 1999. The Netherlands was a different place back then: we still used guilders to pay for stuff, Wi-Fi had only been around for two years, Pim Fortuyn was still alive – and not even in politics yet. In fact: one of the top-selling albums that year was the Vengaboys’ Greatest Hits! Part I. The Twin Towers were still standing and Bill Clinton was President of the US.
I think everyone needs a victory now and then. It can be a small one: getting a pass mark for a difficult exam, for example, or remembering to buy your Mother’s Day present on time. There are also bigger milestones: earning your degree after studying for years, or finally finding your dream home.
And apparently, we can occasionally identify with other people’s victories too. Feyenoord represents the city of Rotterdam – which includes its citizens. The fact that hardly any native Rotterdammers will be contributing to this possible national championship is beside the point: when Feyenoord wins, we all win. And you can see the same mechanism at play in people’s wish to see O’G3NE win the Eurovision Song Contest this week.
But surely Rotterdam can survive without this Feyenoord victory? The city is becoming more popular every year, it is home to one of the Netherlands’ leading universities and it’s gentrifying like crazy. You could say the place has positive representation to spare.
But perhaps the average Rotterdammer takes a different view. He or she mainly feels the problems that come with prosperity – the increasing scarcity of affordable rentals, for instance, or drunken tourists waking up the neighbourhood at night. By now, all these people must be in urgent need of a big victory. And for their sake, I hope Feyenoord yet brings home the Cup this week.
And while we’re at it, I’m fine with O’G3NE winning the Song Contest as well.