well, my head has sort of rotated back around after quite an adventure yesterday! off it was to go and see England play the USA in Rustenburg!
there are many, many fine stories to tell of the 12 or so hours out and about, really. certain ones can never, ever be repeated, but the majority i will try and remember for you here!
the day started off in an innocent enough manner - here's some of our party getting ready to board the bus. you may wish to pay particular attention to Scott, a fine gent who i was hitherto assured was a midget, stood between myself and Dad.
now, showing respect for the massive list of rules and regulations the company organizing this event put in place i didn't take my camera along with me, so the rest of the images are off my phone. sorry for the poor quality of some of them, but how much of that is the fault of the phone and how much it is that photography + ale seldom work out is anyone's guess!
after stopping off along the way from Johannesburg to pick up quite a few more lads we eventually made it to Rustenburg. no tales from the trip? well, one or two, but i will tell them as we go. in the mean time, here's one of us at a very fine shebeen about 5kms from the ground.
it was a most excellent place - the majority of visiting and based here England fans congregated here for the pre-match watering rituals, as you can see from this banner!
yes, i took a snap of that for all my many friends from the fine City of Liverpool. and, speaking of Liverpool, we had our very own Scouser with us - one of the blue persuasion, known to many around the world as Eddie...
now then, that England flag is not the one Eddie started his journey out with. in a rather unfortunate incident Eddie trusted my Dad to wave his flag out of the window of the bus. you can pretty much guess what happened next and thus Dad bought him a replacement one as soon as we got to Rustenburg.
Eddie was the star of the show on the bus trip in many respects, in particular as he regaled us with tales of imaginative ways of earning 50p a go by performing certain acts that i cannot list here whilst visiting provincial towns famed for their mining exploits....
moving on, and from what i can gather, TV audiences around the world are getting quite upset with the loud and proud sound of the vuvuzela at all matches. well, what can i say but toughies - they are a big part of the game here, and the fans visiting from around the world have taken a real shine to them. here's Paul, one of the lads we picked up on the way, showing how to go with the flow.
nice one Paul! the sound of them does, i admit, seem to be isolated on TV - in the ground they are nowhere near as deafening or "annoying" as some seem to think and suggest, if anything they build up a real excellent atmosphere.
anyway, moving away from that particular debate, here's a shot of the crowd at the shebeen we stopped off at. as you can see, mostly us England supporters, but one or two Americans slipped in!
after a crate or two of ales it was time to take a walk down to the stadium. well, the intention was to walk. it was a rather pleasant stroll too, but then Richard went and commandeered, for the price of a beanie and a flag, a rather smart flatbed truck and driver. we thus stood on the back of it down the main road and made merry noise along the way!
here's Dad and Little Scott, signing and celebrating away on the back of it!
we did, however, eventually get to a "no drive zone" and had to disembark from our ace mode of transport. sensing that the amount of ale being consumed would probably need the balance of food, i located a street vendor frying steaks on a corner and bought several of them.
i mention this to justify the inclusion of the picture below. i don't know much about her at all, but this American lass got some of the lads with us (names withheld, of course) very excited, and for some reason they insisted that i get a picture of me eating one of the steaks whilst stood next to her.
i can only assume i was introduced to the picture business to give them an excuse to take pictures of her. not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. if i recall correctly, she was in fact trying to sell tickets for the match. quite annoying, that - despite claims of the games being all sold out, there were plenty of tickets available outside, and the attendance figure was some 6,000 below the capacity for the ground.
anyway, onwards and in to the ground, where Dad chose to show off just how many ales he had by waving both an England and American flag around, and of course Richard showing off exactly what he thought of the one with stars on it!
such antics were soon stopped, however, for fear of upsetting the fine members of the Nottingham Constabulary who had flown over to "keep an eye on things". they were friendly coppers, mind.
exactly how 3 or 4 police officers from England were going to enhance or improve on the genuinely very good safety & security job that the heavily armed SA Police Force were doing is a little beyond my understanding, but good to see them all the same!
into the ground itself, and here's me and Dad enjoying the spectacle!
the Freddie Boswell out of Bread wig and look was entirely Dad's own doing, but up to now absolutely none of us can remember how or when he got his face painted! must have been a random act of kindness by someone or other!
as for the actual match itself, well, after a promising start, the less said about how England petered out the better! i didn't take any pics of the game as such, preferring instead (as you will all no doubt understand) to rather sit back / stand up and enjoy it all.
i did, however, get one or two snaps of the players warming up. well, i thought i did. it seems i got "zoom" mixed up with "reduce" on my phone, so as it turns out i do not have as many pictures as i thought! here are one or two, though!
if i am not mistaken, that in the middle of the penalty area in the pic above is a Mr W Rooney esq., no less. i had not seen him in action before, and all said of him is true - when he takes possession of the ball, dear me it's something else to watch. no matter how he and England do, he truly is one of the best in the world.
and here we are with what turned out to be the starting 11 warming up. one or two of them can be starting to pack and go home early, if you want my opinion, but i suppose let's wait and see if they improve next week!
and, in the interests of balance and objectivity, here is one of the more interesting Americans at the game, along with a lady of apparent Asian origin who he grabbed from somewhere to be in this picture for no apparent reason.
Captain America here and my Dad had a rather frank and forthright exchange about the game, it has to be said. i think we shall call my Dad "Mr Ambassador" as a result of the advice he gave to the captain and indeed the whole of America. i am not sure if they will follow precisely the advice that my Dad gave them, but if they do, i imagine reaching the telephone to answer calls will be difficult whilst they are doing it, so don't take offence if you are trying to speak to American and they are not answering!
whereas the Americans were rather visible and vocal outside, inside it was all dominated by English fans and flags. here's some of the English boys, hopefully if they stumble on this site by accident they are pleased to have a pic of them!
and finally, here's a picture of me and Richard before the game kicked off and the sun went down, showing off just exactly what the whole day was about.
Richard, for the most part, stayed awake for the bus trip home - all 5 hours of it. i dozed off a bit, but i do recall him expressing hitherto unknown joy and delight at something called jazz rendezvous coming on the radio. i am unfamiliar with the general concepts and style of this, but what i heard suggested it would be wise to catch some sleep as the bus made its way home!
i did wake up, though, when we stopped to drop Eddie off at an entirely random petrol station. Scott the midget, who had fallen over once or twice in the stadium (apparently due to "structural flaws in the stadium" which affected no one else), saw this as an opportunity to buy some food. never in my life have i seen such enthusiasm for getting your hands on an unspecified pie, a litre of milk and a now infamous packet of ginger biscuits at 3 in the morning!
well, there you have it. whatever shortcomings there were in the England game, we had a fantastic time out with all the friends, family and visitors who are here to witness this truly special event.
a very big thanks indeed to all the people of Rustenburg for not only putting up with the 30,000+ visitors, but for going out of their way to stand and say "welcome" to us, and indeed to join in and make the good spirits what they were.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!