Tag Archives: England

The life, times, and dreams of a World Cup fan

Let me tell you about the life of a World Cup fan. 30 hours from the time I finish writing this I will either be happy, ecstatic, or miserable. The World Cup has captured the attention of people everywhere. While countries with teams in the tournament have the most at stake when following the results, there are those among us with split loyalties. It so happens that I am one of those people, as my loyalties coming in were not only split, they were split 3 ways.

In a tournament that is played every day, situations with various teams are always changing. If I had written this 7 days ago, all my favorite countries would still be playing. 30 hours from now, all three may have been eliminated. Be that as it may, I am going to share which teams I support, and why, as well as tell you what would be not only my dream final-if it is even possible in the brackets-and why I rank my teams as I do.

I was born in the United States to Dutch parents. My first soccer memory, while faint, is of Holland losing in the final of the World Cup to Germany in 1974 by a score of 2-1. When I was 14 I started 4 years of High School in London. I was once married to an Argentinian, and Argentina was the second team to beat Holland in a World Cup final in 1978, in a game I felt Argentina manipulated unfairly. While some people think my desire to beat the Argentinians is connected to having an ex wife from there, that is not the case. It doesn’t help their cause, but it is more about 1978. If you want to know more about that game I suggest that you go on You Tube.

While I was berated by some, lovingly of course, for wanting the Netherlands to defeat the U.S. last week, Holland is my number one team. It’s not about loyalty or patriotism, it’s about emotional investment. However, I do admit that if the U.S. had won, while I would not have been as happy as I am, I would still have been happy. And last weeks victory for Holland set up what will be a very intense, potentially remarkable next 30 hours. In one hour Holland will play Argentina in the quarterfinal, 24 hours before England will play France. What makes this next day or so potentially even more speoial, is that should Holland and England win, and then go one to win one more game each, they would face each other in the World Cup final, an event that would be my personal ultimate in sports joy.

There is one final twist to all of this wonderful drama. My father, who passed away 15 1/2 years ago at the age of 87, was an enormous fan. Back in the day when it was not easy to call overseas, if you would call my father in the middle of a game he would immediately say, “Call me back. I am watching football”. Naturally, as a man born and raised in Holland, his favorite team was the Dutch national team. Because of the fact that this World Cup is being played in Qatar, for the first time ever the final is not taking place in the summer. If Holland is to win their first ever World Cup, it will happen on December 18th. A day that also happens to have been my father’s birthday.

The stars are all aligned for the perfect ending. Of course 3 1/2 hours from now that dream might be over, but whatever happens, the great thing about sports is that it is wonderful to dream.

Hup Holland! (You understand that if you are Dutch or a fan).

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My hatred for Ronaldo stays on the pitch

hoaxI’ve never liked Cristiano Ronaldo.  I think he is arrogant, obnoxious, and with the exception of how he played for a few matches prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, very overrated. His Portugal National Soccer team plays a dirty aggressive style and has beaten some of my favorite teams.  So in that typical way a passionate sports fan will, I hate Ronaldo. However, I also know the dangers of attacking someone incorrectly. Apparently the story claiming he refused to exchange shirts with an Israeli player is as made up as the pictures you see here showing Ronaldo and a photoshopped picture above Lionel Messi with a photshopped picture.  The real story, a story that incidentally took place at least a year ago is that he didn’t exchange his jersey with a fellow Portuguese player that was already wearing an Israeli jersey.  The truth is that during his trip to Israel he happily posed on Tel-Aviv beach, commented publicly about enjoying Israel and is even pictured smiling and shaking the hand of Shimon Peres.  So until I hear otherwise, I will continue to hate Ronaldo the way I hate any athlete who I consider the enemy…in a game.  In real life it appears the guy may not be that bad after all.

As anyone who has read my writing knows, I am never bashful when it comes to going after someone I feel is an enemy of Israel and the Jewish people.  But despite my somewhat poor-sport dislike for Ronaldo, Portugal beat Holland and England too much for my liking, I won’t attack someone if I don’t see it as warranted.  I’ll just root against him on the pitch.

We have enough real enemies that we don’t need to make them up.





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And Another Open Letter to Russell Brand

russell-brandDear Russell,

I wasn’t going to write to you again, seeing as I did not want to contribute to the possibility of even one additional sale on the dribble you call a book, but since you just won’t go away and subsequently may be on the verge of actually being dangerous, I felt I had no other choice but to share my feelings and intentions.

I lived in London between 1976 and 1980, and if anyone had told me then that I would have agreed wholeheartedly with the Sex Pistols’ lead singer Johnny Rotten on any issue, I would have laughed in their face.  But when I heard that Rotten, whose real name is John Lydon called you a “Bum Hole”, I realized that this man who once was the loudest musical voice of anarchy hit it dead on.

I doubt you will ever address me directly because besides the fact that you think you are too smart for me, I know this because you think you are smarter than everyone,  you also have a Messiah complex.  This is what you don’t realize.  If there ever will be a Messiah, and one can only hope that there will be, this Messiah will truly be about the well-being of others, not about their own personal gain.  Anyone with half a brain realizes this is all about you Russ. You realize the one thing you have, an iota of charisma, is enough to cloud the judgment of those who aren’t all that sharp.  After all, why would anyone reasonable listen to a man who is campaigning against the very system that gave him a good life.  If this “revolution” you feel is so warranted would have taken place prior to your fame, you most likely would have been a heroin addict sleeping in the bus station.

You somehow seem to think that all the democracies of the world are the problem.  America, England and Israel are the guilty parties in your bizarre fantasy land, while those who openly commit acts of evil appear to be exempt from your rantings.  Why don’t you just put on a black ISIS cap and a t-shirt that says “Jihad’s little helper.”  Maybe you need another lesson from the intellectually superior John Lydon who also said the following a few years ago when he was being pressured to boycott Israel:  “If Elvis-f**king-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”

You see Russell, a true rebel won’t feed into the masses’ ignorance.  Instead he will try to give his solution to that ignorance.  Whether that solution is right or wrong, the one thing the proposal will be is sincere.  Your solution is anything but sincere.  It is self-serving, financial, delusional and dangerous.

My intention is to be a thorn in your side in any legal non-violent way I possibly can.  I also intend to get as many like-minded people to do the same. You see Russ, I know our governments are not perfect, but I have enough decency and intelligence to know they are by far the best thing going, and that especially in today’s global climate anyone trying to destroy them is either ignorant, deviously selfish or evil.  John Lydon aka “Johnny Rotten” wants change too, but the whole reason he called you a “Bum Hole” is because he wants that change to come through people voting, while you encourage people not to vote.  I’m not sure I would want the change he wants, but at least he respects the people enough to give them a choice.  All you respect is yourself and your pathetic need for attention.  I will do my best to convince people you don’t deserve any attention, even if in the meantime it means giving you more than I would like to.


David Groen





Follow Holland’s Heroes on Twitter @hollandsheroes

Of Course Holland lost..They’re my team

USP SOCCER: WORLD CUP-ARGENTINA VS NETHERLANDS S SOC BRABehind every perception of destiny, irony sits waiting and ready to pounce.  But I will get back to that.  The title of this post is by no means rooted in self-pity. Pity is never the feeling I have regarding the futility of the teams I support.  As a somewhat well-adjusted individual, I generally get past the pain of my sports teams’ demise within an hour of it happening.  I must say I am pretty good when it comes to that.  After all, and this is the root of the title, I have a lot of experience with it.

We can of course start with the most recent result of which irony played a major factor as well.  But again, I will get back to the irony later.  When the Netherlands lost to Argentina yesterday in the FIFA 2014 World Cup semi-final, I knew that another World Cup would be played without Holland lifting the trophy.  I watched Holland once again secure its position as the best team to never win the World Cup.  I took solace in the fact that they lost with class to a team with class, but nevertheless, once again, their World Cup ended in defeat.

I move on to the National Football League.  I credit the great New York Giant linebacker Lawrence Taylor with getting me into football.  Sure I watched the game and followed the playoffs and Super Bowl, admiring the skills of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice in particular, but it was LT who got me excited about the game.  And living in New York I cheered on the football Giants when they won their Super Bowls with Taylor, Simms, etc.  But it was not till I began to admire the tough character and skill of Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan Mcnabb, and enjoyed games with my family that I considered myself a true fan of a team.  The Eagles would go on to 4 straight NFC Championships and one Super Bowl, but would never win the big one.  And as football fans know, they still haven’t.

In 1976 I began what would be 4 years of school in London, England.  I picked a team.  Sure, I could have picked Arsenal just as easily, a team that won titles and cups, but no, I picked Tottenham Hotspur, probably the most consistently mediocre team in any sport in any country.  And since they are exceedingly mediocre, that’s all they are getting in this piece.

Being a marginal Basketball fan I put my allegiances behind the home team New York Knicks and watched as they always came up short against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.  Except of course for the times the Bulls were without  MJ when the Knicks came up short against Hakeem Olajuwons’s Houston Rockets.  Whatever, they came up short.

Then there is the team I am most emotionally invested in on a yearly basis, the Philadelphia Flyer of the National Hockey League.  Having lived in Philadelphia during their 2 glorious Stanley Cup victories, I will always be a devoted fan.  Even if we end up never winning another cup.  Does it count at all when the Los Angeles Kings win?  Flyers fans and educated hockey fans understand that question.

Lastly I will speak of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.  In 1985 when I moved to New York I picked a team as my local team.  I picked the very charismatic and entertaining Mets.  In 1986 I got my immediate reward, s the Mets not only won the World Series, they won it in the most dramatic and exciting of fashions.  The 1986 Mets have been the reason I have remained a fan of theirs till now, despite the fact that they are generally not very good.  And since I am a fan, when I say it that way, I am being nice.  The greatest overall significance of my support of the Mets now is that their 1986 team is the last team I am a fan of to win a championship in their sport.  Yes, that is almost 30 years.

And on it goes.  Yes I pushed the idea of Holland’s World Cup destiny, and the fate surrounding the teams they would need to beat, and of course started the online campaign of “Win it for my mother”, but in the end it was not to be.  My mother, whose maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes, or in every day use, just Rodrigues, was the son of Marcel Rodrigues.  My grandfather’s nickname was Max.  So he was indeed known by many as Max Rodrigues.  So when Argentina needed just one more goal in penalty kicks to put them through to the finals and send Holland packing, I looked down, smiled wryly, shook my head and mumbled to myself, “of course”.  Stepping up to take the kick was Argentinian football veteran Maxi Rodriguez, who subsequently put the ball in the back of the net and guaranteed Holland would once again not the win the World Cup.  I guess I was right.  Sports destiny did play a factor.  It just did so with a tremendous sense of irony.  Good thing it only takes me an hour to get over it.

Does the World Cup Unite us?


Quick answer; it could.  If only the politicians and power mongers would let it.  In a world filled with violence and hatred, I am one of those who truly believes that the majority of the people watching care more about their country scoring a goal than any territorial conflict or prejudice against people.  Despite my belief that FIFA may very well be corrupt, a belief somewhat influenced by The Netherlands’ inability to break through and win it all, I truly believe this tournament, FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brasil, can do a lot more good than harm.  In fact, I don’t even think it is close.  I am not naive.  As a Jew and as an American, I know there are people who hate us.  But wouldn’t it be great if all the battles and anger could be left on a soccer pitch?  I know my prejudices towards countries like Holland, America and England are based on personal experiences that make me root in favor of their success, just as my prejudices against Iran, Algeria and France are also based on my experiences or perceptions.  However, wouldn’t it be great if it stopped there for everyone.  I wouldn’t gloat over the death of Iranians, but I certainly gloated over their defeat in a World Cup match.  When I say I hate Cristiano Ronaldo and I hate Portugal, it is because he strikes me as arrogant and I see Portugal as a villain in international soccer tournaments, not because I hate the country or people.  On the contrary, I have Portuguese blood.  My mother’s maiden name is Rodrigues-Lopes, a Portuguese name.  And my hatred for Ronaldo wants me to see him fail in football, excuse me, soccer, not fail in life.  And yes, as a Jewish man and Zionist I would much prefer Palestinians dancing in the streets because Israel didn’t qualify or because the U.S. got eliminated, not because of a successful terrorist attack that killed Jews.

The good news, I believe the majority of the planet would agree with this sentiment.  They just need to fight to create governments that feel the same way.  It may be a pipe dream, but to quote my favorite line from the movie Flashdance, “when you lose your dreams, you die.”


For all those who need hope…

To all those in Israel, Holland, England, Australia, Germany, France, India, Pakistan, Singapore,  Sweden, Philipines,  Spain, Poland, and of course the United States of America who are viewing my blog, THANK YOU!

Now tell all your friends and tell them to tell all of theirs.  Let them know about the book Jew Face.  I look around and see many people today who have lost hope because of everyday difficulties and struggles and hope that knowing this story will help in some way.  Everyone needs inspiration and those who have read the book so far have at the very least seen how people can come from the worst situation, the brink of personal devastation, and built a life of joy, fulfillment, and love.

So tell your friends.  Let them have the opportunity to decide if they want to reap the benefits of this story.