Don’t get up – there’s more free stuff

Don’t get up – there’s more free stuff

You know how it works, I might have never got past dreaming of half an hour as a sub at Springfield Park (set your sights low and still fail) but, every boys’ dream is to lead his country out in the World Cup final.  Then you get to about 17 and that changes to dreaming of seeing your country lift that lump of gold that they last got anywhere near before you were born.  Then, sometime around your thirtieth you get all realistic and downgrade to just actually getting into the stadium to see any two teams compete for football’s biggest prize.

I love it when a plan comes together

I love it when a plan comes together


Planning, it’s the cornerstone of… errm pretty much everything really so it’s a good job it’s not a strong point in these parts or else we might actually get things done or end up where we’re supposed to be at any given moment, but what fun would that be?  What, I’m trying to say is that I didn’t end up in Manchester on Saturday, neither did we end up managing plan b either, more about that later but I’d decided I was blogging about the night so here goes.

Wigan Athletic Supporters Club: Swaziland branch

Wigan Athletic Supporters Club: Swaziland branch
We were feeling pretty helpless after Paraguay finished top. The tickets we now had were for Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban. The only accommodation left in these places was likely to be beyond our budget, and the two weeks worth of accommodation we had booked was gonna be wasted. So we crossed the border into Swaziland for a few days to plan our next move.

We reached the border and the immigration officer started to fire off the questions. “Where have you been, where are you from, how long are you staying for, where are you staying…”

To the last question I replied “Mantenga Lodge”

“Mantenga Lodge? That’s near where I live. Can you give me a lift home?”

The Beaten Generation

The Beaten Generation


Remember that 9-1 at White Hart Lane?  Was it really any worse than this?  Could anything be?  Of course there was controversy.  England don’t ever get knocked out of the World Cup without some kind of injustice involved, but despite the inevitable and increasingly louder calls for video technology the bigger shock this afternoon came not from the linesman who decided to put his head down and sprint when he should have just stood and looked at a beautiful finish, but from the eleven men that contained the last of England’s supposed golden generation. 

We come from Wigan and we live in Rondavels

We come from Wigan and we live in Rondavels
We left Bloemfontein the day after the Paraguay game and with a few days to spare til our next game we decided to head over into neighbouring Lesotho for a couple of nights. After days of nervously driving through dodgy areas we were looking forward to a stress free stay in Lesotho, an isolated mountain country with the majority of people still living the traditional African life up in the hills.

A Likely (Lads) Story

A Likely (Lads) Story

“Is it true that England play their next game on Sunday afternoon?” 

And with that one simple question, my whole afternoon had become wasted.  I don’t suppose Mrs Perm knew what she was doing, but after spending the previous three hours avoiding any mention of the game, forgoing my travelling home internet time and having people look at me as if I were a little bit strange, that question told me that England had won and that America had beaten Algerian by either the same or better score. 

The most famous Paraguayan in South Africa

The most famous Paraguayan in South Africa

We picked up our hire car in Cape Town then began the arduous 980km drive north towards Bloemfontein. When I say “we drove” I mean I sat back and relaxed taking in the passing scenery while Laura drove the entire way.

12 hours later we arrived in a village called Quaggafontein, 10km outside of Bloemfontein. This proved to be our best and only warm accommodation to date, a quiet farm cottage with heating and electric blankets (believe me this was quite a special moment to find this added bonus after shivering to sleep every previous night). The peaceful, laid back surroundings were a welcome respite to the madness of Jo’burg and Cape Town.

Woeful performances and mad taxi drivers

Woeful performances and mad taxi drivers
I’ve not been murdered yet, just had no internet for the past week so I’m gonna be a bit behind with these next 2 or 3 blogs…
After the Paraguay game we had 3 full days around Cape Town before the England Algeria game on the Friday. One of the days we decided to head up to the top of Table Mountain so we asked Bongani from the hostel to drive us up to the mountains base. As we’re waiting for him to finish a couple of things off in reception, a taxi pulls up outside and a couple get out, and drag their luggage up the steps.

More tipsy rumblings

More tipsy rumblings

I know that he’s not that well received on most northern terraces, but I reckon that Nick Hornby got at least one thing right in Fever Pitch.  There’s a bit where essentially he says that football matches are generally crap.  We get eighty-odd minutes of terrible, boring or desperate football and it will be punctuated by a couple of minutes where something scintillating happens.  A couple of turns here, a dash there topped off with a perfectly placed pass and a tidy finish.  Some weeks you get fifteen minutes of the good stuff spread across the 90, others five, some weeks none at all.

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