[Editor’s note: This is the final installment in Coach Larry’s account of his trip to South Africa for WC2010. See his previous SA dispatches here.]
Poor weather drives us away from the beachfront and up to Umhlanga to the mall for some shopping in the largest mall in the Southern Hemisphere. Disappointingly, I cannot locate the indoor roller coaster, though it does feature a climbing wall and a goodly number of surf shops. Over and after lunch we see the surprisingly entertaining Germans roll through the English as if every English defender has lost all sense of position. The evening match and dinner prove not much more exciting, though it does horrifyingly display more inept refereeing. Alas, we have worse ideas than an early bedtime, as tomorrow brings us Netherlands v Slovakia.
We make an early trip to Victoria Market, acquiring a mish-mash of souvenirs after walking well past the structure, getting a bit lost in the day market. At least I have some peri-peri spice for the World Cup Final party back home (fyi, it was pretty good). A quick beer over at Wilson’s Wharf gets us off our feet, but we return our treasures home to head to the match. Back down the hill we walk. We barely make it past the top of Florida Road before we start mixing with head-to-toe Orange clad Dutch fans. The two miles go quickly as we continue to pick up jumpsuits, admiral outfits, curly wigs, and cow hats. There was even an Houston Dynamo (Holden) kit thrown into the mix. As the extreme wind nearly carries away my pre-match beer, I worry the action might get affected.
We sweep into the stadium area, then into Moses Mabhida itself. The five flights of stairs make me very unhappy, but our corner looks over the pitch, back through the open end toward the waterfront. Through the glass, the Indian Ocean whitecaps, with the pitch spread perfectly below. Very large groups of Oranje blanket entire sections, with only a small part in the red, white, and blue of Slovakia. Very satisfactory result for the crowd, and out we pour, now in the dark, still admiring the magnificent facade and superstructure. We can use a little more art and little less commerce in our own stadia here.
To the casino to await more friends of the CultFootball family. Now, sure, maybe seeing people only every four years makes them friends in the loosest terms, but friends they are regardless. After a quick and windy dinner, we change locations two more times to watch Brazil v Chile. Somehow, we have chosen the SA equivalent of Long John Silver’s. The upstairs is a bit hot, but our faithful server does show regularly and even offers us whiskey AND brandy. We successfully avoid the bad idea of agreeing to it. We call it a night, as the others have to continue their 7 matches in 8 days tour at 6:30 the next morning, and we must get on our flight home.
Just an absolutely wonderful three weeks. Incredible views of iconic places, and some pictures that you would swear are fake. Some outstanding soccer, but, let’s face it, too much crap soccer. I wish there had been some better non-restaurant-y venues to watch matches, but that is a nitpick to be sure. Would go back in a second if it weren’t for the full day of travel on each end.
And now we move on to the regular seasons for Europe’s clubs. See you (and Jaimy) in Brazil, and maybe we will try the whirlwind approach there. www.GoUSAbid.com for the US to host in 2022.