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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK banner
England gone, party on
Dutch fans in Amsterdam
Painting the town orange: Dutch fans in Amsterdam
By BBC Sport Online's man in the Low Countries, Pete Lansley.

The rain clouds finally broke over Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The suffocating tension of a heatwave that had intensified since late last week dispelled.

With a neat touch of poetic prophesy, this weather framed the period when England played their two Charleroi games - the madness of dogs and Englishmen outside in the midday sun on Saturday before playing Germany and then the ensuing knockout by Romania on Tuesday night.

French fans
Here we Gaul: French fans in Asterix costumes
Many neutrals will feel the lifting of a prickly burden now that the heat has burst and England and their proportion of hooligans are no longer involved in Euro 2000.

Dutch fans in Leidseplein relishing their party with the French at the Ajax Arena, however, spoke up in defence of England supporters.

"I have seen the England games on TV," said Dirk-Jan Kooij, a 28-year-old farmer from Schagen, "and the team is usually a lot better than this.

"As for the supporters, they made one mistake in Brussels and suddenly that was everything - they were a national outrage.

It's not fair on the England fans - it would have been great if they had hung around

Dutch fan Timon Duiven
"Look, if the Dutch lose in the quarter-finals they can make problems.

"I was not surprised Uefa said they would kick England out if there was more trouble. They said the same to Germany two years ago in the World Cup."

Timon Duiven, 29, a salesman who supports AZ Alkmaan, said: "It's not fair to the England supporters. The atmosphere is great here today - France v Holland with both teams relaxed and through to the quarters is as good as it gets - but it still would have been great if the English had hung around."

Kooij added: "I went to Holland v Ireland at Liverpool for the World Cup play-off game when Patrick Kluivert scored twice and that was the best atmosphere I've ever seen at a game."

Everything was oranje in Amsterdam. Since your raving reporters were here a fortnight ago, the street decorations and the number of shops decked out in the national colour have quadrupled and now around 90% of people sitting in the square are kitted out in the luminous team colours.

Dutch fans Dolf and Walter - with orange hair
Dutch fans Dolf and Walter - with orange hair
Air horns are blasting out and even at 3pm chants of 'Champione' are getting a good airing. Irish fans are also around wearing Dutch shirts in the square.

Five Dutchmen taking the colour theme to heart have died their hair, their trainers and their sideburns orange.

Walter Geest, 23, is another to show support for England. "The reports in the Dutch newspapers have been very bad about the English trouble," he said.

"But we have experience of the English supporters that was not bad at all. We had a lot of fun with these Liverpool fans in Marseille in the World Cup when they were camping next to us.

Pete Lansley
Our intrepid reporter (with questionable taste in headgear)
"They would wake up at 3pm, have a beer for breakfast and feel very loose to go and enjoy themselves.

"The England supporters have the most splendid songs in the stadium of everyone: Swing Low Sweet Chariots we like a lot."

Dolf Koetsier, a 25-year-old IT manager, was celebrating his Euro 2000 debut by dying all his hair orange.

"We don't mind if the French win our group because then we can go to Bruges for the quarters and have a good party in a beautiful city. The Dutch fans know how to have the best time."

Euro 2000: England gone, party on.

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See also:

20 Jun 00 | Euro2000
England on best behaviour
19 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Uefa threat 'won't stop thugs'
19 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
Queen is amused by England win
19 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
Monet wins it for France
16 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Royal decree pulps programmes
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