Stellenbosch is a sleepy town 50 km from Cape Town and the heartland of Africaan education. Here we find the University of Stellenbosch where most of South Africa's apartheid leaders and industrial might were educated. It could be a college town in the USA South or New England, with avenues of magnificent oak trees and bushes of gorgeous colours, purple, red, maroon, lilac. Often called 'The City of Oaks'.
Most signs are in Africaans as I walk around the campus, and the first ever Department of Plant Pathology that I have ever come across. Saturday afternoon and all but a few cafes are closed, but I do find time to stroll the Botanical Gardens, owed by the university with thousands of plants, trees, water gardens and a peaceful place to relax and stroll. There are actually 117,000 residents plus 25,000 students but it doesn't seem so.
I had wanted to try South African railways and so went to the massive Cape Town station which is being renovated. "How much to Stellenbosch day return" I asked ."R25 First Class, R14 Second Class" came the reply." How much to hang on the side" I joked. The area is dotted with hundreds of wineries and you can get a Hop On, Hop Off bus to visit many, or take an expensive day tour from Cape Town.
My main reason to visit was for an ABSA PSL Premier League match between Cape Town Santos 'The People's Team', www.santosfc.co.za and the visitors, Moroka Swallows from Soweto www.morokaswallows.co.za. Santos, now called Engen Santos after their sponsors, they normally play at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town. However it is being upgraded as a training site during FIFA World Cup 2010. Santos have hired 11 buses to bring in some of their supporters from the townships, and include free match tickets. The beautiful Chantel Olivier is their media officer and is a graduate of this university and is a great help. Also the GM Neville is a great host and we are entertained by Keith on the microphone.
"We have never lost here", claims Neville," It's our lucky stadium." Actually the stadium is Coetzenburg, used by the university as an athletics venue for The Matties, as the student are called Maat is a buddy, or mate. and their mascot is a squirrel called Pokkel.. Next door is the Danie Craven rugby stadium, named after a legend of the sport. As a backdrop we have various mountains, including Papegaaiberg, Botterly Hill and Simonberg.
It does turn out to be a lucky day for The People's Team as the visiting 'Birds' are sent home with a 2-0 defeat. They just can't finish, while Santos score on 30 minutes from Tyren Arendse and in the second half from Graham King. We all go home happy,me in particular, as the last train has left. I manage to hitch a ride back to town with Rodolf, a French one-man camera crew from Paris.
There is a young referee in the middle, a white guy with a crew cut. V. Gomez is his name and he has a great match. Fast, consistent, clear signals and on top of things. I comment afterwards to Adeel Carelse, the match commisioner that I thought he had a great future ahead of him.