After Friday’s mauling of Spain by the Netherlands, this World Cup lookback piece is timely.
The Guardian takes us back to 1974 and yet another time when the Dutch were riding high on hope and hype and their captain’s ballet moves.
In its series on 25 stunning World Cup moments, it recalls Dutch captain Johan Cruyff’s “signature move…the subtlest of swerves (which) became world-famous as the enduring symbol of Total Football”. In the end, Holland didn’t win; that triumph went to the hosts. But it was an unusual Cup, says. And then it goes on to recall something that would interest anyone who pays attention to Haiti:
“How three weeks of tournament football had changed perceptions! Before a ball had been kicked, West Germany were “the outstanding favourites” for the 1974 World Cup, according to both the bookmakers and David Lacey, the latter noting that while Australia, Haiti and Zaire were “obvious makeweights, there is remarkably little to choose between the other 12 countries”. Holland had only scraped into the finals thanks to a highly dubious offside decision that went against Belgium in qualification, and despite boasting the “star attraction” in Cruyff, were no more fancied to do well than Poland, Yugoslavia, Uruguay, Argentina or Italy. But the Dutch touchpaper had been lit – an oranje boom – by the sheer audacity of Cruyff’s turn. Holland, now poets in motion, went into the final as new, hot favourites over the hosts.”