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FIFA World Cup Report – England v USA PDF
Sunday, 13 June 2010 00:00

from Carolyn Emmett, Montejaque's correspondent in South Africa

England v. USA game in Rustenburg, June 12th at 8:30 p.m.

We left home well ahead of time for this one; Rustenburg is about a two-hour drive from Johannesburg, and we decided to break up the journey by having lunch at Hartbeesport Dam (one hour away). So, by 1:45, we were enjoying calamari and prawns and watching the South Africa v France rugby game on a big-screen TV.

The pub/restaurant was 90% full of English supporters, also on their way to the game, so the atmosphere was fantastic. (I spent most of my time stencilling HOLA MONTEJAQUE and TORONTO, EH? onto the cross of the English flag – horizontally for the former, and vertically for the latter, using the N of Montejaque for the N of Toronto ... clever, right? (Matthew’s idea). We hoped that it would attract the TV cameras at the game, but apparently not, ‘cos no-one saw us there. (Katie sent an SMS at one point and asked if Matthew could do something ridiculous – besides having a painted face and silly hat, I guess? But it was far too cold to be taking clothes off!)

Anyway, we left Hartbeesport at 3:15, and joined a line of traffic making its way towards Rustenburg. Even on the highway, we were doing only 70 km. an hour or so ... although the tiresomeness of the journey was alleviated by the camaraderie, noise and bonhomie of all the travellers (90% English, 10% USA) ... it was fantastic. The queues for the toll booths were also pretty bad;  but, once through them, we eventually saw signs for the park and ride.

It then took us an hour to get into the car park, access it through a single-car-entry gate, and find a parking place in the middle of a huge, lumpy, crops-recently-harvested field. (Bladder-relieving facilities for ladies were behind the spotlights at the very far end of the field; the blokes just made a circle in the middle of the cars).

A 1-km. walk took us to the cattle pens where we were absorbed onto the buses, which then took a further 30 mins. to get us to the stadium. On arrival, we had a 2-km. hike to the stadium itself, where we had to pass through two ‘security?’ checks. (At the first check, we were told to put our cellphones and cameras onto a table at the side, and we then passed through the security barrier; if the red light showed, the contents of our backpacks were given a cursory examination).

At the second set of turnstiles, we had to put our game ticket into a machine to read its bar code.  Finally, at 8:00 p.m., we were in – only 30 mins. before kick-off! Matt and Saurabh went off to buy beer, and managed to get back 2 mins. before the ball was dropped. Queues everywhere were horrendous ... for food, beer, toilets, etc. (The beer concession had only two staff members operating it. What?!)

On the plus side, we had fabulous seats for the game – up and to the left of the (England in first half) goalie (i.e. if you were standing in the middle of the field, and looking towards the US goal, we were to the left on the second tier). So we got a bloody good view of the cock-up by Robert Green, letting the US dribble the ball past him to tie up the score!

Game over at about 10:20 p.m., and it was time to find our bus to return us to the park-and-ride lot (there were three P&R locations, but we remembered we were in the R104 lot). Directions from a security officer: “Up here, turn right, keep going ... you’ll see them”. After half an hour of walking, we asked another security guard, “Where are the R104 buses?” Answer: “You’ve come the wrong way; you shouldn’t have turned right; go back that way, and keep going.” We also passed five policemen: “R104?” “Don’t know.”

We eventually found the R104 buses, after at least an hour, and crowded onto them with both England and USA supporters ... to then find ourselves in a massive traffic jam on the roads going back to the parking lot. “It’s okay,” says our driver, “I know a different way.” (Yes, fine, we weren’t in a traffic jam any more, but it took about 45 mins. to get us back to parking lot R104; did we go via Sun City?) By the time we got back to the car, it was off behind the spotlights for me and into the ‘circle of relief’ for the boys!

It took nearly an hour to get out of there. (Remember the single-car-entrance? It was also a single-car-exit, and there were at least 12 lanes of cars jostling for position to escape). At the toll gates, we were told that it was ‘cash only’, because the toll-cards (Kevin has one, for all his driving for Michelin) weren’t working. Kevin got mad, refused to pay cash, and eventually got away with signing a bit of paper to get the barrier to go up. (Wonder how much the toll-gate security guards kept for themselves from the exodus of people, when there was no record of how much was taken in)?

We eventually arrived home at 3:15 a.m. – exactly 12 hours after we’d finished enjoying a great lunch in Hartbeesport. Was it worth it for the (somewhat pathetic) game and the aggro? Hell, no. Was it worth it for the atmosphere, the camaraderie and the laughs on the bus? Hell, yes!

Tonight, at about 11:00 p.m., we’re leaving for Port Elizabeth – a 10.5 hour drive away. We’ve got tickets for Ivory Coast v Portugal at 1:30 on Tuesday. Have decided to drive through the night, so we’ll arrive there mid-morning, thus being able to spend time with our friends Roger and Ronnie (Veronica). We’ll drive back again on Wednesday, and hope we’re alive enough for the Thursday 1:30 game, Argentina v Korea, at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg!

© Carolyn Emmett


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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