Posted: 6/28/2010


      The Good (Argentina, Germany) the Bad (England) the Ugly, (dodgy referees-ONCE AGAIN)TWICE actually.

      I chose to watch the England v Germany match from Bloomie(Bloemfontein) at Bergers Park, 3 blocks from the Victoria Hotel, and apart from the result it was a neat place. It was a fan zone in a beautiful park with a big screen and plenty of security, stalls selling food and handicrafts and only about 300 people and a couple of my favourite birds THE HADIDA.

     Sitting on the lawn in the sunshine surrounded by exotic trees Phoenix Palms, India Rubber and a wrought iron band stand, a gazebo, a fish pond and a florarium.  Local kids were playing pick up  soccer games and the giant screen could be seen all over. The Germans are young, fast and well drilled by coach Joachim Loew and his staff. I was in Lyon in 1998 when Croatia humiliated an aging German side and it's obvious that for a month long tournament youth and fitness are important.

      A quick two goal lead against a defence looking like a barn door. A brilliant header to reduce the arrears and then the DISALLOWED GOAL by Frank Lampard-disallowed by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda, whose linesman was nowhere to be seen. Goaline technology?? well not necessary according to FIFA. Would a 2-2 scoreline at half time made a difference?, THAT IS NOT THE POINT, Anything could have happened, and in the second half England, so well paid, so well prepared with anything that a 5 star hotel, 5 star cooks and 5 star salaries can offer, and so WOEFUL.  4-1 and England's worst World Cup defeat OF ALL TIME. Excuses-don't even discuss them.

      I am off to SOCCER CITY once again to be hopefully entertained by CONCACAF's last hope MEXICO, El Tri, and the magical play of Maradona's ARGENTINA.   I take the free train from Pretoria Central and its efficient but S-L-O-W. I have an interesting chat with 8 fans of F.C Reipas from Lahti, Finland using the two Finnish words in my vocabulary: Kitos-Thank you, and Poros-Reindeer,  Then 3 employees of MetroRail and we talk about the problems of transportation and how they are so  unaccustomed to the needs of foreign visitors.

     Soccer City glows in the dark and what a magnificent nighttime spectacle. We have tickets high up in a far corner of the Upper Tier and you wind up and around from ground zero on a very wide and spectator friendly slopping walkway. Wide enough for 4 Beckham limousines and as wide as the gaps in the England defence. Eighty-four thousand plus is the announced attendance, and again maybe 2,000 empty corporate hospitality seats.

     We see another disgraceful call, this time from the narcistic Italian Roberto Rossett., as Carlos Tevez is clearly offside. He was in charge of the 2008 UEFA Final: Spain v Germany in Vienna, and in the group stages sent off Harry Kewell at Australia v Ghana. Also Darren Fletcher of Man Utd vs Arsenal in a Champions League semi-final.  He is a hospital manager from Piedmont. Go back and empty bed pans for a while!! At least we have two more REAL, and marvelous goals from Higuain and Tevez, and a consolation goal from Old Trafford bound Javier Hernandez.

      Why can't we substitute referees at half-time Mr. Blatter?  Believe me, I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN. At a N.A.S.L. match years ago(non American Soccer League to its detractors), my friend Eddie Pearson, the referee boss, was sitting next to me in the stands assessing, having got a taxi straight from the airport. The referee was below par, so Eddie said 'excuse me', went to change into his kit and relieved the referee at half-time.  I won't mention the match or the referee. He is still alive, eating through a straw in a care home.

     Back on the long train home and I chat with some USA based Mexican fans from Guadalajara and elswhere, and a South African/Belgian family where the husband is wearing an Oxford and Cambridge stripped scarf- where his son has attended. Also a fan from Houston, TX who has paid $US 900 a NIGHT for an apartment(a rip off), and over the odds for tickets for him and his teenage daughter who plays for Challenge SC.

     I'm in bed by 1.00am and ready for the Boys from Brazil at Ellis Park on Monday, Just another day at the African World Cup.