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)