Live from Rustenburg
June 12, 2010 – the day was finally here, our first world cup match. Me & my brother returned back to Johannesburg after our Safari and we had to meet up with our 2 friends at the airport before heading out to Rustenburg for the match. Our friends were MIA for the first 30 minutes and we were beginning to panic as time was not on our side, we had less than 5 hrs until kick-off and Rustenburg was about a 2hr drive!
We managed to get a hold of them and we agreed for them to pick us from the airport and head directly to Rustenburg. It was a mini-celebration at the arrival gates, we made it, the 4 of us were finally there and we hold on to 8 tickets… its just about enjoying the games from now on, everything was set by then. This is were we also met our driver for most of the trip, Derek. Derek, was a really great host and I hope to talk more about him in future posts. On this particular drive Derek introduced us to “making a plan” concept 🙂 Another word for bribe! Due to the time constraints he was really flying to Rustenburg, well maybe not flying but speeding, we got pulled over and he took care of it. He told us in South Africa when you get pulled over by a cop always tell him to “make a plan” and thats really saying what is your price! Not the optimal method of negotiation but it is what it is and I’m not going to judge.
The image above was the probably one of the first site of the stadium that we saw. This was our only match in Rustenburg and the stadium is situated in the middle of a residential area where you’d never guess there is a world cup venue around the corner. At first impression it was a huge Pro-English crowd, we saw US fans & flags but to me they were clearly outnumbered by the English fans. The English stayed true to themselves, drunk and rowdy as ever but lets be honest, they were fun and didn’t cause an incident that we saw! It was a great festive atmosphere for our first world cup experience.
Like I said it appeared to be a predominantly pro-English crowd but as kick-off got closer you saw more and more Uncle Sams walking in 🙂 By kick-off I would say it was almost 50/50 but the noise war was won by the Brits hands down. The game kicked off and before we knew it England was already up thanks to a Steven Gerrard goal by the 4th minute, the stadium was going absolutely bonkers, the thought of a rout definitely crossed my mind, the Americans looked shaken after such a quick goal. And the pressure piled up. By the 15th minute, the match was becoming quite a bore, England believed that they had won it and didn’t need to try while the US was just trying to get into the rhythm of things. The Americans got more organized but nothing to consider as a serious threat until the 40th minute, and one of the world cup’s most famous bloopers. Dempsey took an innocent free kick shot that seemed to cause no harm, only for Robert Green to fumble it inside his own net. At that very moment I was looking through the binoculars and I seriously thought I was imagining things, I put down the binoculars and said in confusion: “Did that go in?”
At this very moment the shift in the stadium was evident. The highly intoxicated British fans were in speechless, there jaws wide open, not a word after 40 minutes of constant banter! They felt the momentum shift and any person with their right mind would’ve seen it. Unfortunately this was one of our dullest matches to attend, the 2nd half was nothing more than a bunch of failed attempts by both sides. One thing was worth noting in the 2nd half, the Americans were not here to just attend the tournament, they were here to compete.
For a first world cup experience this still gets the thumbs up, we had a blast and there were 7 more games to go. It was like being in heaven…….