Stepping out of my hotel yesterday morning to buy a newspaper I am met by a blast of freezing air. It is winter in the High Veldt and I go an put on a coat and a hat and a scarf. In Western Cape it is time for building snowmen, and many roads are closed. On Table Mountain, Cape Town it is also snowing, with torrential rain in Port Elizabeth and elsewhere.
Do you remember the 1960 classic 'The Magnificent Seven' which I saw not long after it was released and many times since on television?. The seven were Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn and Horst Buchholz, and the haunting music of Elmer Bernstein.
Back to that in a moment. The first match of the day was New Zealand v Slovakia from Rustenburg. I watched it in Chilli's in Hatfield Square munching on a burger and fries. The manager Ruan Nel promised me a special evening if I returned later for Brazil v North Korea at 8.30pm and a free barbecue dinner and drinks. Back in 1982 I had been in Malaga, Spain watching The All White lose to the Soviet Union, almost shock Scotland and lose to Brazil. The 2010 All Whites came from behind against The Slovaks to grab their first ever World Cup point. I did a TV interview with a roving local camera crew afterwards.
A shared taxi back to the hotel for R9 and I listened to the first 20 minutes of Portugal v Cote D'Ivoire on a Zulu radio station before watching the rest on TV in English and the Supersports network in the hotel bar. 0-0 with Didier Drogba brought on wearing a wrist caste by coach Sven Goran Ericcson.
After a two hour nap I was off in a taxi back to Hatfield Square, with Peter and elderly English gent who was a five year resident at the hotel. The taxi driver demanded R150 when we arrived. I took his cab number and told him it was only R60 and he backed down. Inside I chatted with the leader of THE modern MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. As promised Ruan gave us and the Mexicans a boerworst meal from the brai and kept filling my plastic glass with different kinds of Hunter's cider. MARIACHI Sol De SAMPEDRO de TLAQUEPAQUE, came on the small stage after an uneventful first half between The Samba Boys and the Hermit Nation.
I had been at Ayresome Park, Middlesborough at England '66 as the Koreans shocked Italy 1-0 with a goal by Pak Doo-Ik and advanced to the quarter finals to face Portugal. 3,000 local Teesiders went to Goodison Park, Liverpool to support them. I had an official England 66 blazer badge sewn on for me and walked into their dressing room afer the final whistle and celebrated with saki being passed around.
Guadalajara is my favourite Mexican city and in 1970 I was there for all six group matches at Estadio Jalisco, including 'The Game of the Century' Brazil 1 v England 0. The mariachis came on at half-time with 'la Cucaracha', 'Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Guadalajara' and about 10 more tunes through two Brazilian goals as tables were removed and everyone including me joined in a conga dance, Mexican hat dancing and more, with Mexican fans in sombreros and Indian red, white and green feathered head dresses. ALL the women were younger than me, believe me!! More fans pored in to join the fun from outside.
Ten minutes before time we all stopped for a breather as Ruan was poring free shots into glasses and North Korea scored a goal in added time. Then the music and dancing started again. What a great evening in Pretoria/Tshwane. Viva MEXICO !! and the show goes on.....