Ajax, Part Two: Lands Kampions!

In Part One, I told you how our group of American tourists saw the lead-up to the big game between Ajax and Twente. Will and I approached a packed and overflowing pub to see the last minutes of the game and enjoy the local fans.

We still hadn’t determined the score of the game when Ajax scored a goal. The pub erupted. Everyone was high-fiving, tussling hair, hugging and jumping up and down. Will figured out that Ajax is leading 3-1. Based on the time the game started, we knew that it was nearing the end.

A couple of guys ran out of the bar, and created an opening inside. I shoved my wallet in my front pocket, and took my passport in my hands. I looked down at it. Will asked if I wanted him to hold my passport. I turned it over and ducked inside.

Once inside, I was surrounded by monstrously tall Dutch people, either standing on chairs or jumping up and down. The only person shorter than me was the sixteen year old boy in front of me. The energy was infectious. Soon, I was jumping up and down with the crowd. A couple more people left the pub, so I waved for Will to come inside.

By now, the crowd knew that Ajax was going to win and they were singing loud and proud. My Dutch is limited to words that look and sound English, and “Dank U Wel,” which means, “Thank you very much.” To my untrained ear, the song sounded like they were singing dhank yoo veld, dhank yoo veld. Listen for yourself, but check your volume first, because the clips are loud and distorted.

Later in the day, Will learned that they were singing “Kampions!” — that is, “champions” in English.

In another chant, one guy called out, “ah la la LAN ya ya dah,” and the crowd responded, “ah la la LAN ya ya dan.”

According to the combined Dutch-language knowledge of Will and me, this chant means that Ajax is the best. Here’s more video, from just as Ajax scored to pull ahead by two goals:

When I had first entered the pub, I had seen the bartenders singing and jumping with the fans. I thought that based on their involvement in the game, the noise in the pub, and my lack of Dutch, ordering a beer would be difficult. However, the crowd was so engrossed in the game that no one was waiting for beer. I caught the eye of the one bartender who had stayed at his post, picked up an Amstel coaster off the bar, and made the two sign with my fingers. It was like a beer commercial.

I handed the man two five-euro bills. He looked at them, confused, and handed one back. What a steal! He even tried to give me change!

As the game clock ticked on, the crowd got noisier and noisier. The clock passed ninety, then penalty time ended, and finally, the referee blew the whistle for full time. Ajax had won!

It felt like I was in the middle of a mosh pit. Bodies compressed in the middle of the pub, bobbing up and down, singing. The closest experience I’ve had to this was being in the student section when Notre Dame scored a touchdown. I stayed in the crowd, soaking it in, before heading for the exit. On my way out, someone tussled my hair.

As we waited for Mike and Laurie, who were sneaking away for some food, we saw a riot vehicle with a water cannon drive down our street.

Outside and soaking in the excitement, Will told me, “I have a rule. When I watch a game with rabid fans of a team, that team becomes my team for that league.” I told him that I have the same rule.

This guy lit a road flare.

A bus honked “dah dah da da da,” and the crowd yelled, “Ajax!”

Will and I grabbed a bite of lamb kebab at the shop next door to the pub and Laurie and Mike grabbed a beer before heading down to Dam Square (De Dam to our fellow Ajax fans) to meet up with Katherine and Anita. From inside the tram, we heard and saw the crowds banging on the side of the tram. The tram crept along very slowly.

I was looking for some people turning over cars and setting fires. Thankfully, I didn’t see any of that. But Amsterdam had other adventures in store for me. To be continued…

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