Town fan Richard Holt reports from his World Cup trek in South Africa where he now has his home. He endured Friday’s dire England draw with Algeria in the stadium
ENGLAND’S performance just defies any more comment.
While I’m dazed and confused, the South African press here certainly are not.
“A nation in denial” goaded one of the sports reporters in one of our Saturday papers. “If England fans still think they can win the World Cup after that then they need to seek urgent medical attention for they are delusional.”
It’s pretty difficult to disagree and most of the shell-shocked England fans I have spoken to here couldn’t offer an argument. We did all agree, though, that the England fan who broke into the dressing room afterwards to remonstrate with the players just happened to get there first. There were another 30,000 of us waiting in the queue.
One of the worst games in the world in one of best cities in the world and my three-day 750 mile drive to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday for England’s final group game is now starting to look like a very long journey indeed. It could end up being “the road to nowhere.”
Actually in the end the game was just an annoying irrelevance because all it did was spoil what had been a great week in the Mother City. The invasion by the England soccer army had started on the Monday and Cape Town welcomed the fans with some typically English weather – rainstorms followed by icy temperatures and the first sprinkling of snow on Table Mountain for over a decade. Perhaps this was an omen.
In the run-up to the game on the Waterfront area at Cape Town I spotted former Yorkshire cricketer Darren Gough who, for the umpteenth time, had to respond to a shout of “hey mate, this is football I think you are in the wrong place.”
We also spotted a whole range of ex-footballers turned commentators all week, but the strangest had to be ex-Town manager Eoin Hand who is acting as pundit on one of the TV channels here. Overlooked by Table Mountain on one side and nudging the ocean on the other, the stadium is dramatic from the outside, but from the top tier inside it was something else and the England and Algerian fans made it a carnival atmosphere.
I sat next to a couple from Mexico who had flown in excitedly that morning just to watch Wayne Rooney. The initial excitement began to unravel pretty quickly and they sat in slack jawed astonishment for the next 90 minutes at a man playing like a Sunday morning pub footballer who had spent all the previous night in aforementioned pub.
Thankfully for Rooney and the rest of the team at the end of the game, the din of the vuvuzelas drowned out most of the cries of “what a load of rubbish.”