World Cup final fever hits Byron

THERE was hope, there were tears and then – one never-ending soccer match later – there was a first-ever victory.

Emotions ran high yesterday morning at the Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge in Byron Bay as Dutch and Spanish visitors watched Spain triumph over The Netherlands 1-0 in the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Spaniard Mark Torres, 22, was one of only two Spanish nationals watching the 4.30am game at the backpackers, surrounded by a mass of disappointed Dutchmen.

“I was the only one who wasn’t drunk. I went to bed and everyone else had been up all night,” he said.

“I was pretty happy they won, but they played pretty badly.

“They didn’t score until the last few minutes. I think they deserved to win, but they haven’t had a very strong team this year.

“I did follow the World Cup though and I watched every game but one. It’s the only sport I follow.”

Mark conceded he was pretty tame compared with one diehard Spanish fan at the backpackers who started crying and yelling after Spain won and had to be removed from the premises.

John Van Schoonderwalt, from Holland, watched in pain as Spain scored the only goal in the game, in the last minutes of extra time and four minutes out from a penalty shoot-out.

“I waited four years to see this game,” the 22-year-old said.

“We were really disappointed. It is a big thing in Holland. There were people everywhere in the streets and in the bars watching it.

“It would have made me miss home if they’d won. It would have been good to be home for that.

“I made a bet with my mate if the Dutch won then I would get a tattoo. My mum was glad they didn’t win and I didn’t have to get a tattoo.”

John and Mark played a rival game of table tennis on Sunday night before the big final started, which John won.

“I would have rather lost the ping-pong game and won the World Cup,” he said.

The Netherlands also lost two previous World Cupfinals in 1974 and 1978.

There were 13 yellow cards throughout the game and one red card given to Dutchman John Heitinga.

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