Sometimes seats above the roofline are a good thing. But, first, let’s rewind a bit. Winter found its rhythm today, managing sun, wind, rain,and hail, rotated nicely about every hour til the sun went down. The other three left him behind without missing a beat.
Visited the & Union for the Netherlands v Denmark match. It’s the brewpub of sorts for a South African craft brewer, but, strangely, their product is actually brewed in Germany according to their bottles. Both the Amber and Dark Lagers were perfectly drinkable, yet lacked depth, leading to quick finishes. Sadly, in a bid to maintain some sort of sanity and coherence, I had to cut back, and those were the only beers tried.
For the Japan Cameroon tussle we strolled, after a warming cup of chocolate (no powder, real bits), across a few blocks to The Perserverance or The Pressy. Stopped to purchase some gloves, nice cheap ones from China that smelled like oil. At least the dapper hat with the elephant in the colors of the SA flag on it worked very nicely. Usual pub fare, especially their way overcooked chicken. Thankfully the Guinness proved just fine.
So after the slog through the streets in the rain, we arrived at the brand new Green Point Stadium. Some in the community here claim the whole shebang should be round the other side of the mountain in the Cape Flats area. Probably a wise choice from a legacy standpoint, but not the same experience as slowly picking up more and more crowd as you walk closer and closer. Sadly, the night matches mean little good can be done with a camera to provide any perspective, and the weather today cancelled our Robben Island ferry, so no good pictures from there either. Oddly, there was little venue signage even at ground level. Germany provided a lot of excellent photo opportunities in that regard. The six flights of stairs, followed by 28 rows (out of 33), put us at the top of the Italian’s penalty area, but so high up, we could not see the other side of the stadium. Alas, no good angle on non-controversial replays, and no game clock. At least it would have to rain upwards for us to become significantly wet, but the wind compensated nicely. After the warm-ups, the pitch divot cleaners performed their tasks in snappy white coveralls. 10 minutes to kick-off, the stadium reaches three-fourths capacity, not including the FIFA hospitality area which only reaches that level about 15 minutes AFTER kickoff. The Vuvuzelas pick up, the ball boys surround the pitch, the benches fill, and the Italian flag peaks out of the tunnel. First the Italian anthem written by Vivaldi for a Milan circus, and then the Paraguayan, mis-transposed from whoever is the German John Phillips Sousa. Really those are just guesses. I snap my usual kick-off photo, and off the game goes. Crowd settles in very quickly into a very, very low buzz, and in the 13 minute they choose the wave as their preferred form of entertainment. Italy keeps making one pass too many, the referee does not like the flopping from either side (without issuing any yellows), and Paraguay’s training shows its effectiveness. Oh, and now the wind blows the rain onto the fans under cover behind the Italian goal. Paraguay scores from nothing, and suddenly half the stadium is on their side, despite only five visible rows of red, white, and blue. Everyone loves a winner. Or not, as the teams find a way to make the second half about nine times more interesting then the first. Somehow, I miss the Italian goal, but certainly, the pace of this half favored the trailing, more talented Italians. The hulking presence of Santa Cruz proved somewhat endearing, yet not that effective in the end.
One last good soaking for the walk back away from the harbor. Always a good day when a World Cup match is watched live, yet not nearly as exciting as we hoped for here at the end of the world. Too much rain and wind and too many tactics. How is it that Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Cote d’Ivorie haven’t played yet? South Korea is joint second in scoring? Last day in Cape Town tomorrow. Hope to meet up with our man at FIFA (well CONCACAF), and see how to access those unused, midfield FIFA tickets.