27 June 2010

USA v. England

What an experience all around! The day started early (though apparently not early enough) when Javon came to pick us up around 1pm. We randomly met these folks in line for tickets where they bought our extras for the game. As we made plans to exchange tickets, it quickly turned into ‘we’ll drive’ then ‘come over for a braai at our place first’, which we were quick to agree to on all fronts. The food was incredible and abundant: local sausage, pork chops AND beautiful steaks, not to mention several delicious sides, salad and milk tart, a smooth, subtle desert that reminds you of the holidays.

We left the house a little after 4pm for the 8:30pm kick-off as the stadium in Rustenburg was a 2-hour drive with the last bit being only a 2-lane road for all the 40 thousand fans (!!). Several traffic ques later, plenty of road rage and lots of vuvuleza practice we are pulling into the park and ride at about 7:45pm and getting more than a bit nervous. Several large busses are lined up waiting to take folks to the stadium, however, we climbed onto the one bus who apparently had never driven there before….with only minutes until kick-off she drove us away from the stadium and pulled several u-turns before finally making it to the horrendously planned vehicle entrance for the bright lights, where we immediately hopped off and booked the last bit on our own, making it into the stadium seconds before the teams entered the field!

The energy was electric, though it was rather disappointing to have the reserved fan areas so incredibly mixed with US and England fans, and there is certainly some bad blood. Several hand gesture exchanges could be seen throughout the stadium and one of the more popular chants on our side was ‘1776’.

Considering that we were in a newly renovated stadium, it was rather disappointing that the scoreboard, clock or replay screen did not work, especially when our goal went in… The final blow to the organization of the new stadium, however, was trying to get the hell out. The buses were coming in at exactly the same intersection as mobs of people were exiting and it was completely deadlocked for hours. Our cars were about 5-miles away and not exactly walkable, so we hit up the only bar in the area (full of England fans who were by and large NOT pleased, we heard a few ‘f*** the US’ as we walked in with our garb) while we waited for the crowds to thin out. The frustration was so high that when the first empty buses came to pick us up people rushed the doors, causing some panic and a few injuries.

So after our beers, we qued up again and finally were on our way back to the park and ride where of course, nobody was moving so we settled in with some more beers and plenty of biltong (talk about delicious) to watch the spectacle. In the end we arrived back at the hostal at 4am, almost simultaneously with the various other convoys of US fans returning from the stadium.

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