We left Johannesburg on Sunday and the escape to Cape Town couldn’t come quick enough. Waiting for the coach in the bus station, praying for it to hurry up as we were sat there waiting as a magnet to all the undesirables. There were a couple of Americans also waiting for the coach who were supposed to be based in Johannesburg for two weeks as all their games were up in the north but they instead decided to bin their tickets and get down to Cape Town, as far away as they could from the hell of Johannesburg.
A gruelling 20 hours later we arrived in Cape Town and yet again we were customarily ripped off by a taxi driver who took us to our hostel.
When we were trying to book somewhere to stay, everywhere in the centre was either £300 plus a night or already fully booked if any cheaper. We found a private room in a hostel a couple of suburbs out of the centre for £40 a night, much much cheaper than anywhere else so as you can imagine it was a far from salubrious area.
We were sick of being ripped off by taxi drivers so upon leaving the hostel to head into town we planned to take a minibus taxi, which is a 12 seater minibus with a flat rate of about 50p. As we’re heading out onto the main road a guy approaches and mumbles something, which I translate to be “Are you alright?” I reply with “Yep” and he turns round to get into a taxi and beckons us in.
“Ah, sorry I didn’t hear you right, we don’t need a taxi”
My apology is then followed by a 2 minute long foul mouthed screaming tirade during which I am refered to as a lying bastard, a lying fucking white bastard, a scumbag, a worthless lying piece of scum and much more.
With that nice welcome to Cape Town under our belts we walk off in search of a minibus taxi, past crack dealers, glue sniffers and all kinds of the type of people you hope you’d only ever see in The Wire.
We finally manage to board a minibus, squeeze into the seats and head into town. Slowly. Just as you think no more people can fit on the bus, it pulls over and another couple are forced through the doors. Again, again and again until we arrive at the main bus station, the doors are opened and everyone springs out like a sideways jack in the box.
The area which we are staying in, Woodstock, I was later to find out is home to all the regions crystal meth dealers, with nightly drugs busts and even weekly killings. The police around here however are great and would give Vic Mackies Strike Team a run for their money. The Tactical Response Unit who are in charge of all the drugs busts don’t have uniforms, just guns, jeans and tshirts, emblazoned (really) with “Don’t bother getting up, we’ll let ourselves in”.
Set off to the stadium for the Paraguay v Italy game with 3 hours to spare and unsurprisingly was running up the steps as the national anthems were being played. In my head I think I’d envisioned being lord of the manor in the middle of a load of Paraguayans who were all perplexed but really happy to see an English guy following their team and had loads of questions to ask and drinks to offer me. In reality I was sat in the middle of a load of English and Northern Irish wearing Paraguay shirts, drunkenly singing “Para-guay, Paaaraguay” whilst the few real Paraguayans that were there looked on bemused.
The stadium, Green Point is amazing by the way. There is a fan walk leading to the stadium, filled with food stalls and bars and the stadium itself looks great from the outside and is even better inside. There were massive downpours before and during the game but the pitch didn’t seem to be affected at all: Wembley groundsmen take note.
Most importantly though was this day marked the beginning of my stalking of the Trazmeister. Or did it? I’m sat there, far back in the stadium not having a clue if he was playing or not (not quite as bad as thinking Rob Green was Joe Hart and only finding out the following day it wasn’t – in my defence everyone around me thought the same and was giving Hart a good slating).
As we’re watching the game, I’m starting to worry. I’ve come all this way to watch our Tony and I may watch the entire game without knowing if he’s even playing or not. ‘I need him to score’ I jokingly think to myself. This is the only way I’m ever gonna know if he’s playing. Two minutes later, the ball is in the back of the net and I know. I just know. I jump up and start celebrating with the rest of the Paraguayans and fake Paraguayans. Then I realise the goal is a bad thing and stop celebrating. Our tickets are team tickets to watch all of Paraguay’s games until they get knocked out, then we follow the team that beats them. So when we booked our accommodation we did it on the presumption that Paraguay would finish second in the group. If they don’t we are well and truly fucked. There is no more available accommodation anywhere and we have already paid for all the hotels in the cities they’ll be playing at if they finish second. We need Italy to score! The rest of the game we sit in hope Italy will pull one back. Finally they do. Instinctively I jump up and shout “YES”. Whilst sat in the middle of the Paraguay section. In my Paraguay tracky top. Everyone looks at me and thinks I am simple. I sit back down embarrassed.
The game ends and the Paraguay fans are happy with the result, Traz is happy with his goal, I’m happy to be well and truly wrong about Martinez’s assessment of him and also happy to be still on course for second in the group. We pull over a taxi, who drives us home then rips us off. We thank him and head to bed.
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