LIFELONG Town fan Richard Holt will tomorrow fly in for England’s World Cup opener against the USA.
But he won’t have far to travel to see Fabio Capello’s men in action in Rustenberg, South Africa.
For Richard, 48, who was brought up in Shelley, has made his home in South Africa and loves the country.
But he has never forgotten his Yorkshire roots and his feelings for everything blue and white.
Every Saturday during the soccer season he is glued to the internet watching and listening to commentary on all Town’s matches.
The football-mad businessman, who lives 20 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, will make the short flight to Rustenberg to watch the England match and has also bagged tickets to their other games against Algeria and Slovenia.
He’s also managed to secure a ticket for the World Cup semi-final due to be staged in Cape Town, in the hope that England get through.
But not all his football decisions have been so sound; he flew back to the UK last month having bought a ticket for the Division One play-off final at Wembley, only for Town to lose in the semis against Millwall.
“I got that one wrong”, admits Richard, who has followed Town since 1968.
“I first came to South Africa on business in 1996 and fell in love with the place.
“I was blown away by Cape Town and decided there and then I wanted to come back.
“I was brought up in Shelley and my mum Joan still lives in Shepley, so I left the family behind when I came here permanently seven years ago.
“I have never regretted it. I met and married my wife Christina shortly after getting here and we now run two businesses together, arranging weddings and also arranging specialist holidays including safaris or golf trips.
“I had studied as a management consultant but this is totally different.
“We have a great life, living 20 minutes from the city centre, and I have a great lifestyle.
“I’m a Town fanatic and was a season ticket holder for many years. But here in South Africa, people are daft about British soccer, particularly the indigenous population.
“I’m sure Man United and Liverpool have more fans here than they do along the East Lancs Road, and the TV screens two or three Premiership games every Saturday.
“I am sure the World Cup will be a fantastic success. The excitement is reaching fever pitch already, and the games haven’t even started.
“Forget all the sensational media stories about crime and problems. There is a real soul and spirit about this place that is going to make the Cup a special event.
“You can already feel it, there is an electricity in the air and just walking through Cape Town today you could see and hear all the people blowing their vuvuzelas and mixing with the visitors.
“The noise is deafening and there is a party waiting to happen”.