Team GB’s Men’s Hockey team have been denied the opportunity to repeat history and face Germany in Saturday’s Gold Medal match after suffering a heavy 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands on Thursday night.
It has been 20 years since Great Britain last won an Olympic medal in field hockey, with the women’s team taking the bronze in Barcelona, and 24 years since the British men’s team defeated Germany 3-1 in the 1988 Seoul Olympics to take the Gold.
The 80,000 strong crowd waiting for Usain Bolt a stone’s throw away in the main stadium couldn’t be heard over the extraordinary din being made by the home support. Clearly inspired by a week of phenomenal success for British athletes, Team GB’s supporters were confident their heroes could brush aside the Dutch favourites.
At the very start of the match this didn’t seem too ridiculous. From the opening moments GB attacked ferociously. The noise being made in response to every British touch clearly shook the nerves of Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockman, who only seconds in nearly turned the ball into his own net.
After five minutes of recklessly aggressive (but utterly captivating) hockey, the game was paused when Klaas Vermeulen tried to body-check four British players simultaneously, which resulted in him having to leave the action. The brief break seemed to have a calming effect on both sides.
A slower pace suited the more technically gifted Dutch team who applied constant pressure to the British defence, which eventually resulted in the first penalty corner of the match. This was expertly played into the path of Roderick Weusthof who brushed the ball past Glenn Kirkham to open the scoring.
A second penalty corner five minutes later, although initially cleared, found the ball falling once again to Weusthof, who this time took a touch before placing the ball into the bottom corner of Kirkham’s goal.
After going two goals down, the British support died down and this clearly affected the players, who couldn’t seem to string two passes together. But a freak lapse of concentration from Holland’s defence lead to GB being awarded a penalty corner, which was smashed into the Dutch goal by Ashley Jackson with a confidence unimaginable just minutes ago. The crowd roared once more, only to have their renewed optimism crushed moments later when Mink van der Weerden restored Holland’s two-goal lead.
Billy Bakker’s goal meant that the Dutch went in for half time 4-1 up and for all in the Riverbank Stadium, the result felt inevitable.
As if the mood wasn’t bad enough, Nick Clegg made a half time appearance and inexplicably chose this moment to reveal that his mother was Dutch. This was met with the expected boos and vacation of seats.
Team GB came out after the break with an admirable sense of purpose and were awarded two penalty corners back to back, however the organised Dutch defence was more than capable of standing up to both.
As news filled the Riverbank Arena that Usain Bolt had just jogged his way to a second gold medal of the Games, many British supporters probably wished they had stayed at home and watched history being made in the comfort of their living rooms, rather than suffer the humiliation of watching Billy Bakker at almost exactly the same moment score Holland’s fifth.
Five became six, then six became seven as Teun de Nooijer struck twice in the space of a minute and left Team GB with 15 minutes still to play, despite the match already being over.
After the seventh goal the Dutch looked like a side in training and turned on the theatrics. Billy Bakker completed his hat trick with a sublime slap-shot from the most impossible of angles.
A routine conversion of yet another penalty corner, this time by Wouter Jolie, left Team GB looking so demoralised that it was hard to believe this was a team still in contention for overall third place.
A late goal from Team GB's Robert Moore inspired brief outburst from the home support. Some might call it British self-deprecating humour, but chants of "we want 10", "you're not singing any more" and "we're going to win 10-9" probably only further deflated the already finished home team.
Great Britain may still go on to win a medal when they face Australia in the Bronze Medal match on Saturday, but before Team GB can even think about bronze glory, they are going to have to find a way to forget this orange misery.