On October 2, 1951, the light flickers in the streets in roughly Eindhoven, Zaltbommel, Doetinchem and Winschoten. A greyish light, with an occasional disturbance. Grandpa, grandma, in-laws and neighbors, they all lined up to see the miracle. The miracle of the first television broadcast in the Netherlands.
Only five hundred households had a television in 1951, so the viewers were among the happy few. You might want to ask them, “What was going through your mind?”
Much has changed in 70 years, but much has also remained the same. NOS reporter and documentary maker Kees Jongkind delved into the rich archives of the sports interview with researcher and writer Wiep Idzenga. The two surfaced with a rich anthology, with the common denominator being that one question: “What went through your mind?”
“Sports journalists are laughed at because it is such a big cliché,” Jongkind knows. “Whoever asks the question is ashamed of it. It is not without reason that we have found all kinds of ways to formulate it differently: from “how did you manage this” to “just say it…”. But it is the key question .”
The interview immediately after the match often produces the best emotions. Viewers at home want to see it, want to know and want to confirm their own feelings. Or not.
As in 1996. The Dutch national team had won its second group match at the European Championship in 1996, beating Switzerland 2-0. But afterwards the tension is to die for. And then Jongkind approaches Clarence Seedorf.
Seedorf started the game as a central defender, but was replaced by national coach Guus Hiddink after 20 minutes with a yellow card in his pocket. “Afterwards he stood there with a cap and a piece of chewing gum in his mouth. My opening question (“Is this the end of Clarence Seedorf in the Dutch national team?”) was perhaps a little too much with the blunt axe. It turned out to be one of my most unfortunate interviews ever.”
A few yards away, Edgar Davids speaks to the writing press. That evening’s bench seat stated that “the national coach has to get his head out of the behinds of some players.”
Jongkind is not aware of anything yet, although in conversation with Seedorf he also felt how bad the atmosphere was in the Dutch camp. “The interview was completely out of the picture and I was not happy with it either. In fact, Ewoud van Winsen (now deputy editor-in-chief, but then still editor) stood behind me to bring the tapes to the director’s car as quickly as possible. shouted that they had to watch the interview first and maybe thought we shouldn’t broadcast it, but director Martijn Lindenberg just started the interview.
Exploring the collective memory
Many sports interviews shortly after the finish have become part of the collective memory. Sometimes we think that is the case. “Everyone in the Netherlands knows Romario’s statement: ‘I am a bit tired’. I was also sure that he once said that in front of the camera in one of our broadcasts. But no matter how Wiep and I searched, we could not find the fragment. find.”
Jongkind and Idzenga started a quest in the collective memory: “We even called up via social media whether people knew of a video fragment in which he made that statement. But the fragment in question did not emerge from that either. Then we started to wonder. ask: ‘Did Romario actually say that?’
Hours of video footage and documentaries about PSV’s Brazilian dribbler were watched, but he never makes the most eloquent statement. At least not on the picture. The closest comes to an interview by Kees Jansma in the dressing room after the PSV championship game in 1991.
“We don’t know for sure, but that could have been the beginning of that myth,” Jongkind suspects. “Romario says, ‘I’m a little thirsty and exhausted.’ Maybe that has clumped together in our collective memory into ‘I’m a little tired’? And did that become another running gag?”
Evert tackles Evert
Jongkind has seen hundreds of interviews in recent months. Which fragment made the most impression? Jongkind, after some hesitation: “In 1985 Evert ten Napel was waiting at the Bonkevaart in Leeuwarden. His task was clear: he had to get the winner of the Elfstedentocht – the first in more than 30 years – in front of the camera. easier said than done.”
“The high shot, in which Evert runs forward and really grabs him by the scratch”, says Jongkind with undisguised admiration. “If he had not done that, Van Benthem would not have been on the broadcast until three hours later. Immediately after that you also see the chaos around Van Benthem. The queen was waiting, but Evert’s mission went ahead.”
The tears of Gerrie Knetemann on the shoulder of Mart Smeets, or those of Frank de Boer, Noël van ‘t End and Sjinkie Knegt. Sven Kramer’s restrained anger after his famous substitution mistake at the Vancouver Winter Games. Ellen van Langen’s euphoria after she won Olympic 800 meters in Barcelona. “Hi dear, have you seen it”, she blares through the heavy mobile phone, a novelty at the time.
The latter was a ruse by the then NOS reporter Sierd de Vos, who had the friend of Van Langen on the phone and was able to lure the brand new Olympic winner in front of the camera. The same reporter shared in the Orange euphoria four years earlier.
On the turf of the Volkspark stadium behind the frenzied players of Orange after the historic 2-1 win over West Germany, De Vos really only has one question. “Frank, Frank, how are you feeling?”
Before Frank Rijkaard can answer what’s going through his mind, Ruud Gullit intervenes: “What a stupid question, man!”