Viva Vuvu! I got my first taste of a crowd vibe at Durban’s uber-glorious Moses Mabhida Stadium at yesterday’s opening match and I was totally blown away.
Blown away by the sheer beauty of being in the shiny-new stadium along with about 22,000 fans… and blown away by about half of them blowing their vuvuzelas like their granny’s life depended on it.
If this is what the atmosphere is like with not even half of the full house that will grace the World Cup 2010 matches, then I’m going to ask to be allowed to flog earplugs outside the ground for our foreign fans unused to the ear-splitting explosion of exuberance that is so part of the South African football experience.
Look. I love football. I love Durban. I love our World Cup 2010 stadium. And I love the pure joy for the beautiful game expressed through a vuvu by our fans. So this post is a celebration of all those. I have got a nit or two to pick with the service offered yesterday… but I’ll set those out later for the authorities to note.
Before I illustrate “The Beautiful Noise”, let us kick off on a quiet note. Looky here…
OK. Let’s bring down the decibels a tad. Here’s my summary of how debut day went down at the MMS (Moses Mabhida Stadium). All staff on duty at the stadium were efficient, courteous and very friendly – as you would expect of South Africans – but I have a couple of gripes. Not because I’m the archetypal “Disgruntled of Umdloti” but because, dear People In Charge, if you’re going to have a world-class stadium to show off to the world, then everything about it should be world-class.
Why, then, don’t all the refreshment bars serve all the same food and drinks? Why did I go to one to order coffee to be told that’s it’s only available at the next one? Never mind that I get to “the next one” to be told that there’s no milk. “Not a good start,” I pointed out to the assistant. “Do you think you’ll have milk in time for the World Cup?” She went off and came back with “We’ve only got cold milk, not hot milk.” “Cold milk will be very cool,” I replied. “Could I have a hotdog,” I asked. “No, hotdogs are at the next shop,” she said. I went off in search of the next shop and found en route that my coffee was, in fact, black.”
Now, listen up All Ye In Charge. South Africans are easy come, easy go and pretty much accept what comes their way. Not so many of the foreign fans who will be asking for milk in their coffee and a hotdog to go with it come June 2010. When I finally bought a hotdog it was cold. Please know that in the United States and Germany, they have large government departments dedicated to The Temperature Control of Hotdogs Sold At Football Stadiums. Teams of little men in white coats stick thermometers into hotdogs and anything warmed up to less than 32 deg C leads to shop assistant’s heads being used as spare footballs. OK. Exaggeration overload. But big room for improvement, guys!
Now, let’s wind down with a fun game. The following photograph shows an AmaZulu player swinging a freekick over towards the Maritzburg United goalmouth. But where’s the ball? Ja, this is just like those old “Spot-the-Ball” competitions the newspapers used to run. It took me 37 seconds to find it. Can you beat that? If you can, mail me using the “Contact button on this page” and tell me where the ball is. The person who gets it in the fastest time (use the honesty box for this, please!) wins, er, wins… let me see… OK, they win my vuvuzela!
Coolness. Here you go…
I enjoyed that. Ending this off with a little teaser. Oh, in case you missed it, local favourites AmaZulu were beaten 1-0 by Maritzburg United after Byron Hendricks scrambled the ball over the line to score the first goal ever at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. He then kissed the lush green turf to signal this feat but I think we’ll be seeing a truckload of far better goals next June and July. I cannot wait.
* An overhead scissors-doff of the red hat to Karen Lotter of ethekwiniweb.co.za for sorting me out with tickets. Paaaarrrrp!