Monthly Archives: June 2010

Seaview Lions

Friday 25th June 2010.Published Wednesday 30th June 2010 (Kirsty’s blog)

Firstly a huge thank you to Little Henry/Sambo/Mrs Key for running around to our house, collecting post and watering Mr P’s plants, he’s been worried about them in the heat, though I did get a frantic phone call from Little Henry who couldn’t get into the house for some reason, but was bursting for the loo! She’d had a run to ours from the neighbouring village so couldn’t get back quickly…thankfully the door finally opened and disaster was averted! Thanks for watering the plants Sambo and not watering the doorstep ;o) (I’m sure she’ll love me for revealing that!)

So after nursing a hangover in Port Elizabeth we head out to Seaview Lion and Wildlife park about 40 mins outside PE as recommended by Wendy at Sir Roy’s. It’s a great place, obviously with a seaview, hence the name and we self drive through the park and spot giraffes and a variety of different looking deer like creatures (I have subsequently looked them up then promptly forgotten what they were all called!)

We then arrive at the lion part of the park whereby they send you and your car into the lion enclosure through a series of huge metal gates, very reminiscent of Jurassic Park. In order to get a good photo opp, Andy wound down his window to get the lion in the background (which we were told not to) and then turned his back on the lions. Great fun telling him that they were right behind him at the open window!

We then went to the area where they hand rear the lion cubs, they’re absolutely beautiful, after a couple of months and up until twelve months they go into an enclosure where they can still be stroked however no children are allowed in with the adolescent lions. Straight away we can see why, as we’re on a suspended wooden walkway above the enclosure, the lions were lying around lazily playing with each other and dragging unidentified hunks of meat and hoofed legs around the place, taking absolutely no notice of the people on the walkways…that is until a child came along! Suddenly all lion eyes are on the child and they start stalking. The children are oblivious to this but the Lion’s instincts are clearly to pick off the smaller prey, we watched time and time again as the lions would appear to be asleep until the appearence of a child when they would be wide awake, alert and start prowling alongside the child, at one point there was a child running along the walkway closely followed by a couple of running lions, it’s actually quite perturbing to see the way they were watching the kids, they never took their eyes off them!

The good thing about this santuary is the fact that after maturity these lions are trained to hunt (wouldn’t take much from what we saw) and then released into the wild through a series of National Parks and Game Reserves. The same happens with the tigers here, though they’re not indiginous to South Africa, projects like this can only help the seriously dwindling tiger population.

After spending a lovely afternoon with the lions we then film another piece to camera for Mike at BBC Look East for Andy’s response to England’s win, we film it from the beautiful Seaview Lion Sanctuary and it goes out that evening, where it’s spotted by Alfie Dinsey amongst others, Andy’s 15 minutes of fame continues.

We head straight to PE airport from Seaview for our flight back to Joburg, we get there ludicrously early as we want to watch the afternoon fooball. We’re greeted by the superbly, smiley and happy Joey from Europcar (pictured below) and head into the departure lounge.

Turns out our flight to Joburg is ‘delayed indefinitely’, what the bejeezus does that mean? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? No one seems to know!

After some scant information and a free burger we finally leave PE at around 10.30pm (we got to see the evening game too), so we spent around six hours at an airport that doesn’t have an awful lot of entertainment or shopping to be had…though the only thing I was worried about was poor Bonny the dog back at Joburg who was waiting patiently for us to get back and feed her, she had to wait ’til 1am for her dinner, she was ever so pleased to see us, bless her!

Bloemfontein and Germany next, should be fun!

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The Ball, Man

Tuesday 29th June 2010 published 29th June (Andy’s blog)

A quiet day for a change, given we are full on again tomorrow game driving in Madikwe we need a rest!

Caught up on some writing and then Dom, Keith, Nat returned from the Holland vs Slovakia game in Durban ( having made a 4.30am start!) complete with little Andy and Bella.

We took a trip into downtown Johannesburg which has ‘changed’ down the years and hit the Carlton Centre in order to seek out ‘Ball Man’ which is an installation made by Nike constructed from 5,000 mini footballs. These balls are predictably in Brazil livery (everyone’s favourite second team, apparently). This was in the middle of this centre which is smack in the middle of the old and formerly prosperous central business district. Underneath were an array of oversized Nike boots, complete with orange heels, the ones specially launched for this World Cup and what every kid will be wanting like, now. Apparently there are four different models of boot, all grey with orange backs. There was also an impressive display of all the Nike World Cup kits – Brazil, Holland, Portugal, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Slovenia, Serbia and USA all fitted onto weird models (torso upper and lower, and legs) which were internally lit and housed in glass cases. Nike also supply Ambassadors who’s job is to talk the public through all things Nike and technical. Overall this was really impressive stuff. Add to this that I managed to pick up a Kaizer Chiefs 40th Anniversary track suit top and it turned out to be a doubly interesting day. Fabulous!

As we left, I noticed a quote by Luis Fabiano which kind of hit the spot for me. ‘In Brazil your first gift is the ball, so you always have that with you’. It’s in the blood, it’s in the breeding, it’s in the DNA of every Brazilian. 5 World Cups and counting. QED.

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We’re Not Going Home…again

Wednesday 23rd June published Tuesday 29th June (Kirsty’s blog)

Match day morning and we have a lovely breakfast whilst chatting with Wendy and Mardie (who is pictured below). We try some traditional South African chuckaluka (sorry about the estimated spelling) it was gorgeous, about as spicy as a vindaloo the spice certainly woke us up!

Dom, Keith, Simon and Chris turn up to collect Simon’s blackberry which had been left in the restaurant the night before and yet again we tried to see how many grown adults can we squeeze in one car trick! It was two in the front, three in the back and me lying across the laps in the back, poor Chris and Andy took the brunt of the weight and vuvuzela Keith rode in relative comfort.

Dom dropped us at the boardwalk where we were looking for our mate Ben Grant who we haven’t seen for a couple of years since he moved to Australia. On the way we see the bizarre sight of two English coppers with proper helmets, it looks so strange to see them out here out of their usual environment. We stop them for a photo op, very friendly they are too though when we commented on their technical mountain climbing looking gear they said the material was cheap and not as good as it looked due to cost cutting, though still miles better than the old style cotton shirt with collar scenario. How football is changing…here I am on a football trip fraternising with the rozzers and discussing fashion tips.

It’s a sea of red and white and as usual the English have marked their territory and draped flags across every bar and restaurant. Amazingly in the crowd we find Ben and his mates who have all travelled from Oz, there appears to be ten or twelve of them all wearing the Italia ’90 blue England away kit…after that throughout the whole day we keep spotting a little group of blue. It was great to see Ben and the boys and after a few pints and a catch up it’s time to head to the stadium.

En route we pick up ‘the boys’ who’ve been enjoying themselves in a bar right on the sea front and they’re all in high spirits.

As we start walking down the road towards the official FIFA fan shuttle buses which will take us the 5km to the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium we keep spotting the local minivans, they’re like a hop on, hop off transport service for the locals (the ones that FIFA have advised fans not to use), so as one of them stops at lights we all hop on and take over the minibus, I asked the guy at the front how much it would cost to take us to the stadium, his response was “whatever you want to pay mam”. The guy had the biggest smile accompanied by the biggest gold tooth I’ve ever seen! We kept taking pictures and he thought it was hilarious that we wanted a picture of his cold tooth, not only was his dentistry unique he also beat all the FIFA buses, scooted round a back street route and got us there ‘quicksticks’ (this is Andy’s favourite new phrase, he heard South Africans use it a couple of times and has taken it as his own…complete with the accent).

We bump into the boys in blue again, Ben and his mates and not the coppers and look for somewhere to drink, though there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to drink outside the stadium so we head inside for beers.

Talking of police, there are twelve British police out here, probably as a profile thing rather than assisting the South African police, however there’s been zero trouble, the atmosphere has been brilliant wherever we’ve been. Lots of singing and partying, lots of fathers and sons, husbands and wives and families, there hasn’t been a single English arrest…football really is changing, and with any luck it will be exactly the same when we play Germany and Argentina. (this bit was written before our campaign was brutally cut short in Bloemfontein, that report to follow).

Once inside we’re ridiculously early as usual and have time for a few more beers in the glorious sunshine, the England fans are in fine voice and easil drown out the vuvuzelas. After kick off the singing gets louder and the atmosphere is fantastic all aided and abetted by a completely different England team to the one we saw play Algeria. After the goal, there were deafening chants of “we’re not going home, we’re not going home, we’re not going, we’re not going, we’re not going home, oi!” much to the amusement of the locals who asked me what the fans were singing.

We could see ‘the boys’ from where we were sitting an after the game we jumped back onto one of the little minivan taxis and once again took it over, there were two women already on the bus and they looked a little intimidated at first at the noise, chanting and singing filling the van, along with us banging on the windows at passing fans, though they soon started joining in and even gave us a traditional South African song.

We hit a bar back at the boardwalk and from there on in it all becomes a bit of a blur, though I do remember a couple (Hannalo & Hannes Cilliers) who were innocently on a night out for a civilised dinner when they were suddenly surrounded by drunken, singing England fans spilling beer on them and completely ruining what should have been a lovely dinner date. We got talking to them an it turns out they live right out in the country and had booked a babysitter and had decided on a romantic night out, the first for many months, so Hannalo and Hannes we apologise profusely for turning your dinner date into a raucous, messy beerfest!

I would love to tell you stories from the evening as we laughed all night long…however I can’t remember what we were laughing about, I just remember singing, dancing and laughing. Frodo/Ewok/Eva Major has pictoral evidence so as soon as we upload them, we’ll get them posted, they may shed some light on the evening…then again they might be messy ;o)

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It’s Enough to Make Yer Heart Go….

Monday 28th June published Tuesday 29th June (Andy’s blog)

We awoke in ‘my Nona’s room’ in Bloemfontein to the sound of barking dogs. Everyone has dogs seemingly in South Africa, and they all live outdoors, guarding property rather than providing company I suspect. Our host Irene was nowhere to be seen, so we had a cup of coffee, a quick shower and then away. I felt strangely positive and liberated. The focus now was not on getting to Cape Town to play Argentina, but getting an earlier flight home and looking forward to the game drive at Madikwe we had booked when we felt the quarter finals were a possibility. One always needs tasks and targets in life, doesn’t one? Always look on the bright side and keep positive!

The journey home was unremarkable but for one thing. A Piper light aircraft parked somewhat casually on the side of the road. Sadly we were going too fast to take a picture, but it was there large as life. We then heard on the radio that it had landed the day before when the pilot reported that he had encountered difficulties and decided that the N1 highway was the only place to land. Apparently some of the passengers were being treated for shock. Amazing stuff.

Radio 2000 provides much useful information not least the news about the aircraft. However, Kirsty did wonder if royalties and the payment of is an issue as there are loads of cover versions of well known songs not least a version of ‘Wonderwall’ sung by some laconic and slightly off key crooner who had clearly taken too much mescaline. The radio presenter was doing a lovely job of ‘filling’ between covers. She mused about what other event in the world would bring women together and in the spotlight in the same way as the World Cup. Outside of the Olympics, there is nothing to compare, but bless her she did suggest a ‘beauty pageant’.

The next item of discussion was centred around South African’s president Jacob Zuma’s call for the Ghana team to change their nickname from the Ghana Black Stars to the African Black Stars, such is the continental support for Ghana now. He said that they carried the hopes in the same way as ‘The Blue Samurai’ are doing for Asia. I wonder how long it will be before England get an official nickname, obviously there are plenty of unofficial ones flying about!

We arrived back in Johannesburg shortly before 2.30pm and the rest of the day looked like this.

Sort flights home.
Eat.
Watch Holland vs Slovakia.
Watch Brazil vs Chile.
Sleep.

We fell at the first hurdle. We had booked a game drive in Madikwe a park north of Johannesburg, on Wednesday through to Friday and so wanted to head home at the weekend. Not a chance. Johannesburg airport is like Dunkirk, there are thousands of English fans trying to get home and the earliest our ‘fully flexible’ Virgin flight could muster was next Tuesday evening. It will be fun hitting the office straight from the airport on Wednesday! I caught up with Steve and his team who were at the airport trying to get earlier flights – they had booked their’s for next week as well and the thought of staying on was too much for some of the boys.

So given we have a few days on our hands, we decided to book a trip to Rourke’s Drift at the weekend. Fortunately there was one room left in the prestigious and historic lodge, ‘Fugitive’s Drift’. It has always been a lifelong ambition of mine to visit the scene of the famous enagement between a hundred and fifty British soldiers and 4,000 marauding and freshly victorious Zulu warriors who had massacred a column of 1500 men at Islandwlana the day before. So something brilliant to look forward to before we head home. The only downside is the great David Rattray who I saw a couple of times on his tour of the UK some years back, was senselessly murdered in his house by burglars about four years back. The world was robbed of a great historian and a great speaker. A man with passion for his subject who was committed to keeping the stories of the Zulu War alive. He always had the utmost respect for both the British and more importantly the Zulus. A wonderful man and a tragic loss. ThEe

We headed off to eat and watch the game. No surprise that a solid Holland beat an unimpressive Slovakia who have the worst haircuts in this tournament. I am sure that Holland are capable of upping the stakes and they will have to when they play Brazil. Later Brazil were to resemble Germany of old- physical, technically brilliant, athletic, clinical in front of goal and amazing stamina, virtually impossible to break down and solid in every position. Chile looked like Brazil of old, circa 1970 except that they could not supply the final ball. Brilliant skills, close control and wonderful use of space. You can’t really see past Brazil, Germany, Spain or Argentina winning this tournament to be fair.

In between games I sat down my co pilot and chief organiser Kirsty, variously known as Payne Lite, Number 2, vice captain and 27, to watch Zulu. If we are off to Rourke’s Drift she may as well ‘know ‘er ‘istory’ after all ‘it’s enough to make yer heart go whooa whooa whooa whooa’.

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If

Sunday 28th June 2010 published Monday 29th June (Andy’s blog)

We woke up nice and early for the 7am departure and 500km drive from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein. Anticipation and excitement in equal measure, but personally I have seen all this before. This was Keith’s first big England game and Kirsty had seen us lose in the quarter finals (or the super sixteens as they are now being referred now in the ever more brand focused world we live in) to Portugal last time round.

Dom was on his usual ‘urgent’ form from the start, driving through the suburbs of Johannesburg like Colin McRae. The roads were empty, after all it was Sunday and 7am! Dom did come across one slower driver and hung on his shoulder until he wilted and pulled over. It should be said that Kirsty and I were in Nat’s car, whilst Dom drove Keith and Nat. The others were off to Durban from Bloemfontein first thing Monday to catch the 4pm kick off for the Holland vs Slovakia game, for them the World Cup is one big road trip!

The drive to Bloemfontein was superb another dead straight road passing through the countryside in a way the Romans would have been proud. Very little traffic and virtually no visible signs of life. No towns, villages and hamlets. Nothing but fields and trees, with the odd American West style windmills which I assume must be for irrigation.

We hit Bloemfontein shortly before 11am, and I got a call from my brother Richie wishing us luck! It was 20 years ago that I had nipped back after the Cameroon game in Naples to collect him and take him to the semi final in Turin, against the Germans. We soon found the B&B that we were staying in. Well the one that Dom, Keith and Nat were staying in. Ours was ‘just a few doors along’. Esther greeted us with a cup of tea and we were asked to wait as we would be shown our B&B ‘presently’. Her son and his daughter complete with her German kit, took us to where we were staying. We were greeted by a young woman and an older man, who seemed a tad on edge. The man asked to take a seat and offered us coffee as he would ‘have a chat with us just now’. Kirsty was her usual relaxed self chatting away with all and sundry, whereas I was a little more irrittated. I just wanted to dump our overnight bag, find the others and get down to where the action was. After more diversionary talk about some cheetah park we should take time to visit (this is big game day, but not that sort of game for god’s sake), the chap came clean and said that he had over booked and we were actually staying just around the corner. He admitted he had been asked to stall us and even offered to do us a little dance. This was starting to remind me of a scene in ‘The Missionary’ or ‘Ripping Yarns’ but decided I would go with the flow.

So Esther’s son and his young daughter jumped back in our car, we followed the other chap, who we subsequently found out was Russian, and we swung by and got Dom’ team to follow us. We only drove for 2 minutes before arriving at another house and being introduced to our third host of the day, Irene who looked like Nana Mouskouri. She was frantically trying to get ou room ready, which was basically an annexe off the garage. It was basic but it was ‘home’ for the night, and we would not be there long given that we would be out all night celebrating, wouldn’t we? Irene’s daughter was a younger carbon copy of Irene, complete down to the spectacles and tied back long black hair. Anway we bid our farewells and headed for the town centre, which was Loch Logan, an artificial lake with a shopping mall attached. Think Harlow or Camberley with a lake out front.

Half the mall was about four storeys high and half of it was still being built and there must have been some sort of accident with cement as their air was thick with dust. The England fans were there in their thousands, outnumbering their German counterparts by 5:1. The atmosphere was good humoured and everyone was having a good time. But boy was it crowded!

I broke away from the others to see if I could find Alan, Dave, Swiss Jimmy, Steve and Jack. I had spotted Al’s red top, red hat and rather sassy little black camera strap across his chest from across the lake. They had had a ball the night before, staying with ‘some hillbillies’ several kms from Bloemfontein. Steve mentioned that their host had brought out the brandy and Jimmy had polished off a bottle on his own and was lagging by 8.30pm. Dave had obviously had a good night also given that he had sacrificed his ‘England expects every man to do his duty and shave each and every day’ law. Having scolded Alan and Steve for non shaving on account of them looking ‘disgracefully scruffy’, his whiskers were even more notceable. I had got word that Ledley King may replace Upson. This met with universal outrage from the assembled West Ham contingent and even Al (a Spurs fan) was admitting that the thought of King playing a half would fill him with fear. Jack went so far as to say, ‘why break up Terry and Upson, they have never lost together’. Little did Jack know how wrong he would be. I told the boys of our complex plan to get flights and board in Cape Town once we won today. Kirsty had been on the case as usual and had agreed with Nat’s brother Rich to press ‘buy’ as soon as the final whistle had been blown and we were through. We even lined up a reserve credit card, just in case..

I met up with Kirsty and the others who were queuing up to get in to a place to eat. Loch Logan had never seen am invasion like this before and I doubt they will ever see it’s like again. Those bars and restauarants probably took a month’s takings in a day. Our fish and chips never did show up, instead we had to make do with some tramenzinies (little flat breaded toasted sandwiches), as the place had run dry of what I thought the waiter referred to as ‘eggs’. When I asked increduously ‘what has eggs got to do with fish and chips?’ I was told by Keith that the waiter had actually said ‘Hake not eggs’ this Afrikaans accent can play havoc with my hearing sometimes.

The football ground was literally directly behind the shopping centre. The Free State stadium was a pretty tired old structure – think The New Den on a sunny day. Spirits were still very high and I bumped into Robbie again, last scene atop Table Mountain. Robbie’s lot were heading up to Victoria Falls after the game, potentially meeting up with Steve’s lot.

The game started and within a couple of minutes I was in Kirsty’s ear telling her we looked sluggish and that Germany were ripping us to pieces in midfield. When we went two down I wa not surprised and feared a thrashing. Poor old Upson made the mistake for the first goal by Klose who I had said before a ball was kicked ‘would score’. He atoned for it to some degree with a header to bring us back to 2-1 and we actuallly got into the game. When Lampard’s goal was ruled out, we could see it crossed the line clear enough from where we were standing. These suspicions were confirmed by dozens of texts and Facebook postings moments later. At that point we were starting to boss the game and who knows what may have happened if the goal had been rightly awarded? I very much doubt we would have suffered our worst World Cup beating ever, and we may have lived to fight another day, maybe just one though. You need some luck in tournaments, and Germany just got theirs yesterday.

Anyway, forced to chase the game we were taken apart by a ruthlessly efficient and technically superior German team. There are lessons to be learned, but who knows whether the FA or indeed anyone charged with the well being of English football will be able to buck the Premier League market. More on that later.

The rest of the evening was predictably downbeat, I tried to meet up with Steve and the boys who were in 2nd Street where the action was. There was heavy police presence, but spirits were good and I saw no trouble. I think that this was more of a precautionary measure than anything else. Sadly, communication was chaotic and I never did find the boys which was a shame.

We ended up watching the Argentina vs Mexico in a restaurant and theorising on how things may change. My mood was somewhat blue but at least we were not subjected to the uber critcal English media and some of their bile. No doubt, those responsible for producing the News of The World which was everywhere that morning complete with pictures of Rooney, Gerrard and Terry with lions teeth, and headline masterpieces such as ‘Long to Wayne over us’ would be turning on the team like the girl in the Exorcist.

Much like like the English football team, Dom was so tired he fell asleep at the table, he has taken on this World Cup with the zeal of a Jesuit. For him Nat and Keith their odyssey continues!

We returned to our B&B before midnight, spirits low but not as low as in previous tournaments. The room was ready and there was a little double bar heater keeping the room, which did have an heir of my Nona’s bedroom about it, all old fashioned furniture and a whiff of moth balls. There was something familiar about this place and something familiar about the whole day really. I have plenty of theories about why this was a failure, if indeed it was, which I am currently writing up. If that goal had gone in. If – The story of England’s footballing history.

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A Team Under The Surgeon’s Knife

Sunday 27th June (Andy’s blog)

So much anticipation and so much disappointment, again. No point in dwelling on the atrocious decision by some half arsed Uruguyan ref and linesman. Had that goal been given, things may have been different, we will never know. Being in the ground, you could sense us getting back and importantly the Germans showing signs of weakness. Some good must come from it, both for our national team and every national team robbed of key decisions through lack of technology use. Sepp Blatter, why not become a Catholic Pope mate, there will be a vacancy soon enough.

Anyway loads more on these issues later. Today hats off to Germany who inflicted out worst ever defeat in a World Cup. They outplayed us and finished us in a clinical fashion. By contrast our lot could not trap a ball with a blanket. Everytime Germany took a shot it looked like it was on target and likely to test the keeper.

So, we exit the competition but not South Africa just yet. There is a bit more to see. A nice little game drive and a visit to Rorke’s Drift. At least there we went down fighting!

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Cometh the Hour….

Sunday 27th June 2010

Drove 540km to Bloemfontein from Joburg. Road straight as a die. Full report to follow but here we are, looks like the same team as Wednesday and we are in red. The old foe await, this is the World Cup and this is what we have come for. Will we win today, of that I am sure. Then bring Diego and his merry men on, time to square up the misdemeanours of 86 and 98. Happy days!

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