We arrived in Johannesburg early on Friday morning after an eleven hour flight from the UK. I managed to sleep for a good 6-7 hours so it passed quite quickly and I didn’t feel to tired on arrival. Johannesburg airport was buzzing with the sound of the Vuvuzela, which is the South African trumpet, and we have heard everywhere since we arrived. We are away with Thomas Cook sport and they had a rep waiting for us and we were soon on the coach headed to our hotel in the Waterberg region.
First impressions we that SA is very developed with good roads and modern buildings. After a few hours on the coach we arrived in the middle of nowhere at our hotel! We are in a lodge right in the middle of the game park, and we had to transfer to 4×4’s for the last 5km to our lodge. On the way we soon saw Giraffes, Gazelle, and Rhino’s – now we are in Africa!
On arrival the hotel staff put on a traditional dance for us and had a fruit juice waiting for us. Nice. Our lodges are over looking a Ravine, which offers excellent views. We soon hung our England flags up 🙂
After a quick shower we headed to the bar to watch the SA v Mexico game, and with plenty of local interest there was a good atmosphere. When SA scored the locals went crazy! After that it was France v Uruguay, which was a dull game, and soon after the final whistle we retired to bed as we were by now pretty knackered!
Saturday was all about England, after a nice breakfast buffet we headed back to the coach for the drive to Rustenberg. After a few hours we stopped about an hour for a beer in a sports bar along the way, which was a nice break but the bar we’re showing the Rugby!!
The final drive to the stadium took longer than expected due to heavy traffic and we were relieved when the stadium finally came into view. First impressions were that there were masses and masses of England flags!! After a slow drive through the crowds we finally arrived at about 19:00 and headed straight into the stadium. It was a very impressive with, nice pitch and a large ground without a roof and England flags hung in every available space! There was also plenty of USA fans, but the England fans seemed to outnumber them two or three to one.
We battled through the crowds and bought ourselves some beers, programs, and Vuvuzela’s!
Our seats were great, we were in one corner of the ground but had a good view across the pitch.
The teams soon came out and the national anthems rang out, and of course we sang along to “God Save the Queen”, patriotism to the max!
The atmosphere was great, lots of England chanting, although the sound of the Vuvuzela’s dominated everything – sounded like a big swarm of bees! The game kicked off andbefore we knew it Englandscored from Gerrard, we went bonkers! Unfortunately our celebrations soon turned to frustration as England struggled to stamp their authority on the game with USA seemingly dominating the midfield, andwinning a lot of the the 50:50 balls. Even worse not long before half-time a seemingly weak shot was spilled by England keeper Green and rolled agonisingly over the line – gutted!
2ndhalf was better with England playing much more attacking football, good chances for Heskey (who I thought played very well) and Wright-Phillips were hit straight at the USA keeper much too our frustration! We weren’t the only ones who were frustrated though, Rooney was being well shackled by his marker who arguably was the man of the match. The USA had their chances though, and a good save by Green pushed a shot onto the bar – this was getting nervy! The last 15 mins of the game played out with the USA seemingly happy to play for a draw andleave England with little chance of a goal.
The final whistle went and the USA celebrated with their fans whilst the England players quickly left the pitch clearly disappointed. It felt like a loss to us and we were a little disappointed with the result. England must play better in the next games.
We found our way aback to the coach and then had the long drive back to the hotel, stopping on the way at a service station where we had a nice steak pie, not so different to back home! Transferring back into the 4×4’s it was flipping freezing, the temperature really drops here at night. Fortunately we have electric blankets on the bed, and it was blissfully wonderfulto crawl into bed around 5am!
This morning after a lovely outdoor breakfast over looking the plains, we watched highlights of the game. It looks different on TV, England looked more dominate. Oh well, it’s only the first game and hopefully Capello will iron out a few things before the next game. Hopefully the players will up their game and we will go on and win the group. It was a great experience, and South Africa is buzzing!
Today it’s time to relax, watch the games and enjoy the Safari park. There’s lot’s of activities to do here, game drives, golf, quad biking, helicopter rides, and spa therapies!
Hope the atmosphere back home is just as good, “Come on England!”