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.
Watch Holland vs Slovakia.
Watch Brazil vs Chile.
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’.