Holland 1978
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Holland 1978
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This web site is dedicated to the Dutch World Cup team of 1978.

The Dutch line-up for the final of the 1978 World Cup.
Back: Rep, Jongbloed, Haan, Brandts, Neeskens, Krol;
Front: Jansen, Poortvliet, W. Van de Kerkhof, R. Van de Kerkhof, Rensenbrink.

  Although the 1978 Dutch team started slowly, their challenge picked up momentum as the competition went on, and they ultimately qualified for the Final as memorably, if perhaps not quite as stylishly, as their 1974 predecessors. That the manner of their defeat was equally dramatic, equally tragic and even more controversial meant that the 1978 team earned its place alongside the 1974 vintage in football folklore.

  For me, there was a curious symmetry about it. In 1974, I'd been captivated by the World Cup during that strange, disconcerting period in between leaving school, in the quiet seaside town of Scarborough, and starting at college, in Leeds. Now, four years on, I'd just finshed my course at Leeds University, and was again at something of a crossroads, about to start work in a large and unknown city far away to the south, called London. So, having some time on my hands and feeling I'd earned a bit of relaxation, I sat down and watched the World Cup from start to finish again. Time well spent.

  The Dutch of 1978 had no Cruyff, no Van Hanegem, and of course no Rinus Michels, but all the other stars of 1974 were present in some capacity. They had in Ernst Happel a very different coach to Michels, the man who had put Ajax - and Holland - on the football map in the early 1970s. The new coach was a more pragmatic, rather dour figure, who sometimes gave the impression of being swept along with the tide of events rather than in control of them as Michels had been. But the team still had most of the Dutch heroes of 1974, and the early 1970s, reunited under one banner again, for one final tournament together. Somewhat tentatively at first, they set out on the long road to another World Cup Final, and gradually, reinforced along the way by a handful of hungry youngsters, they realised they were still one of the best sides in the world, maybe the best.

  Needless to say, they still argued about money, about team selection, and of course about how many stripes there were on the orange shirts. But they entertained the world again for a few weeks one summer long ago, and most of the world wanted them to win the World Cup (well, most of us at Leeds Uni did anyway), and most of us mourned in unison when they didn't.

  This is their story.

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