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Match day adventure

2010-06-21 12:19
“I have an extra ticket to a match and I’d like you to go with me.” That is, a World Cup match. That is, the World Cup match between England and Algeria in Cape Town.

Now many people probably despise English soccer fans (or English sports fans of any kind) but not me, I love them. They’re loud and proud and exceptionally eager to buy everyone drinks. Go English fans!

So when a friend said he had some extra tickets to some matches and one of them was an English match I was there faster than Cristiano Ronaldo on crack.

There were a few minor problems to sort out though such as transport. You see, I work just a few hundred metres away from Cape Town Stadium so it’s not a problem for me to just walk there. Getting out of the city is the problem (when you have a car).

Try driving anywhere in this city on a match day and you will know the meaning of driving hell (you lot in the back from Gauteng can just be quiet now, thanks).

You can’t park anywhere, you can’t drive anywhere and you have to try extra hard not to be distracted by the trio of guys dressed like lions strolling about without a care in their hairy little worlds.

So being a back-in-the-day train traveller (or trainer as I like to call it) I decide that that’s my next best option. I’ll take a train into town before work, and then go to the match, and after the match I’ll take a train back home.

And being a seasoned trainer, I know that I should probably also check times and stops.

I haven’t ever been to New York’s Grand Central Station but I imagine and hope that Cape Town’s upgraded new station is something like it. Great glass windows allow one to see so much of the city’s beautiful skies; there’s security all over the place so it’s exceptionally safe; the woman doing the announcements sounds as if she took elocution training for three years so one can actually understand what she’s saying; and the information area now looks professional and is no longer just a really big cardboard stand.

But the best part of it all for me? The large lady liberating the last few crumbs from a big packet of chips while holding the fort at the spiffy information table.

She was frank enough to tell me that it would be best for me to take the earliest possible train after the match which was at about 23:00, to sit as close to the driver’s compartment as possible and, most importantly, to not travel on my own. This is especially the case when one is female. Right, now seeing as it’ll be virtually impossible to get out of Green Point straight after the match I won’t make it for that train and probably not for the one after it either. Oh joy. So scrap the train idea then...

Plan B. I’ll park my car just outside the city at a friend’s place, take a train into town before work, get the friend who’s taking me to the match to drop me at the other friend after the match and then I’m good to go. It sounds complicated but it worked out.

All in all it was a pretty hassle-free experience, although there was one fearful moment when I saw a man on the train who I refer to as the green-eyed monster because he’s green-eyed (doh) and he’s scary and he once went into the women’s toilet at a bar that a friend of mine and I were at and he’s one of those odd people who stare at others while fumbling their fingers about nervously.

A colleague who’s also a trainer tells me I should be very careful of him, he scams women and is just your average grade-A nutcase.

So tourists and locals who plan on using public transport, remember this: it’s by and large pretty safe, particularly now, but there are dodgy characters - you’ll know them when you see them - to avoid.

And yes, the England versus Algeria game wasn’t the most exciting in the tournament thus far – my father says it was downright boring - but it was worth it trying to figure out how I was going to travel, being frightened by the green-eyed monster, and being almost crushed just outside the stadium by overly excited football fanatics just to hear thousands of English people sing God Save the Queen. Indeed.

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