Because everything about this first African World Cup is beautifully brand-new, I want a Holland v Spain final on Sunday. Yes, that way we’ll be assured of a new winner of the world’s most desirable football trophy.
Removing three-times winners Germany from the equation is just a bonus. But, first, Spain need to do the business under the soaring arch of Durban’s glorious Moses Mabhida Stadium tonight. And they will need their ace ball-distributor Xavi Hernandez to be at his very best to ensure that David Villa and Fernando Torres get to bang the ball in the old onion bag.
Let’s hope Xavi will be more on song with the ball than he is with the vuvuzela. Not that his sumptuous lifestyle at his ridiculously luxurious villa at home – and the repayments on his tennis court-sized Jacuzzi – will be threatened by his inability to blow the vuvu. But please put on your granny’s corset – to stop your sides from splitting – and check this out…
Heavens to dear old Anabella, that’s even worse than I blow it. Purse your lips, Xavi, and put them inside the mouth of El Trumpeto, amigo!
Here, let a little South African girl show you how it’s done…
There. How was that? Sweet, hey? Got it? What? Lips inside the vuvu, bru! Nort, man. If you’re going to win the World Cup here in South Africa, you must practise your parping, my china. We need you to give old Sepp Blatter a lekker blast in his earhole when you go to accept your medal!
Right. In about 96 hours time, 94,700 crazy people will be frenzying around inside the illuminated calabash that is Johannesburg’s Soccer City as South Africa and Mexico light the wick of the fizz-pop fandango that is to be the 2010 World Cup.
And stretching across every country on our globe, billions will crane their necks to get the best view possible of the opening match. They will see many things on Saturday night… and one view may be this visual treat…
Jo'burg's Soccer City: not an altogether shabby football ground, is it?
No, we quite like it. Not as aesthetically gorgeous as Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, perhaps, but it’ll do. Fine. So the globe is going to get to see a lot of Jo’burg, Durbs and Cape Town. And maybe a bit more of Bloemfontein and Rustenburg than they would bargain for. But what of South Africa’s small towns, verdant-valleyed villages and rusty-hued hamlets, secreted away behind mountains and filed away, collecting dust, in corners of deserts?
Well, what of them? Are there flags flying in their rutted main roads? Are there rainbow-razzmatazz mirror socks being worn by their donkey-carts? Well? I think, if you wandered into the Karoo today, you’d get a big surprise. And I have another surprise for you.
If you drove out of Cape Town on the R43 tomorrow, bounced over Sir Lowry’s Pass and snaked past the whale-watchers’ paradise of Hermanus, you would – after two hours or so – come across a sumptuous Overberg village that goes by the name of Stanford. You would have to look out for it because you could easily miss it. As many poor, unsuspecting travellers do. But if you catch sight of the Sir Robert Stanford wine estate and you started to slow down next to the Syringa Kennels, you would notice the entrance to the town.
Continue for 250 metres or so down Queen Victoria Street, the main drag, and you will stumble upon this…
Stanford Village Green: not quite Soccer City... but it's ours Pic: Hatman
Yes, that’s our green (well, it’ll be greener after the winter rains). A lot of things happen on this village green. Cricket, horse races, sunset markets, biggest pumpkin competitions… but mostly ladies walking their dogs after a satisfactory afternoon tea. And, I have discovered, it’s a great place to lie on one’s back and stargaze after a hefty night down the pub.
Unlike those crammed into Soccer City this weekend, we won’t be seeing any stars on the field. But we’re doing the best we can. Folks, roll up… roll up to the Overstrand Rainbow Five-a-side Soccer Extravaganza. Our village green will be transformed into a mini-football fest with local teams puffing about, trying to settle old scores, market stalls, coaching clinics… and probably one or two ladies pretending not to notice while walking the dog after yet another highly satisfactory cream tea.
Yes, that’s how we roll in quaint, beautiful Stanford, one of the finest preserved Victorian villages in the fairest Cape. But roll we do. The media will be there to document the festivities. Not Sky Sports or the London Guardian or ESPN or the New York Times. But the Stanford River Talk, the Hermanus Times, Whale Talk Magazine, Whale Coast 96.5fm, the Fasttrax Marine film company and the Fijn Bush Telegraph will be reporting on our main World Cup event, so that people tending to their farms in even more isolated parts of our little piece of the world will learn of it.
Here is the authentic heartbeat of our great country, tiny specks on the map which will not see the likes of Messi, Rooney and Kaka in the flesh. But we will have fun anyway. And the proceeds of our fun will go to the Hermanus Trust, a local educational and social NGO, and the benefits will be felt long after the last ball is kicked.
Local businesses taking part are, among others, La Finestra Restaurant, Stanford Hills Estate, Pam Golding (Stanford), Stanford River Talk, Gypseys Restaurant and Birkenhead Brewery. the first match kicks off at 9am on Friday, June 11 with the final being played on Saturday, June 12. A floating trophy will be presented to the winning team.
So to those fortunate enough to watch Steven Pienaar split the Mexican defence with an inch-perfect pass for Katlego Mphela on Saturday, we Stanfordians say: “Give them horns, guys!” And, we solemnly promise, if we spot a new Steven Pienaar in the making on our village green this weekend, we’ll start grooming him for the 2018 World Cup. Ayoba!
My hands are up. I confess. I’ve had more than a few unkind words to say about Cape Town on this blog.
But that was then. When I was living 40 metres from the golden sands of Umdloti Beach north of Durban and was transfixed by the stunningness of the majestic arch over Moses Mabhida Stadium.
And this is now. I still prefer Durban’s World Cup stadium to Cape Town’s but, given that I have moved Hatman Mansions to a glorious village just two hours out of Cape Town and am trying to make new friends there, it’s time I sucked up to Cape Town a bit. Bloggers are allowed to change their minds, aren’t they? What’s that? Oh.
Moving swiftly on, and in the true South African spirit of ubuntu (togetherness), I have had a strict word with myself and am now happy to endorse Cape Town as a World Cup destination of no little charm.
And the ensuing video suggests that I might not be wrong. For those Korea Dictatorial Republic fans who haven’t ever visited the Mother City, you may now drop your jaws at this…
Not altogether shabby, is it? No. Better than what you’ve got at home, perhaps? Ignore that. Unfair question. So have yourselves a ball in Cape Town, my foreign friends, and thank Peter Greenwall for sending me his cinematic take on what goes on under and around Table Mountain.
And – I’ve got to slip this in – if the stratospheric levels of hedonism get too much for you, hire a car and drive for a couple of hours up the R43 past Hermanus to my home village of Stanford. Here you’ll find a ridiculously friendly welcome at the third best-preserved Victorian village in the Western Cape. And the first best-rehabilitative oasis on the entire planet! I know. I live here and I’m super-chilled. So chilled that I’ve even begun to like Capetonians!
I’m sure all of this has got you gagging to get on that plane out of Pyongyang, hey?
OK. You Hatpeople brave enough to regularly enter this blogspace know that my mission in life is to enrich yours. That’s what I do. I can’t help it. I was put on this planet to make you feel better.
To help you rise above the drudgery of your daily lives in South Africa, a country painted by London tabloid newspapers as being more barren of pleasure than the Siberian hamlet of Hellonearthagrad, a South African nation on the brink of civil war and facing certain episodes of earthquake, volcanic eruption, drought, floods, terrorist attacks, general pestilence and regular outbreaks of typhoid, scurvy and the particularly nasty Malemaria. All of this during the four weeks of the World Cup.
Oh, and yellow fever… which a medical expert at Groote Schuur Hospital tells me has no cure and involves millions of free radicals moving around the body of South Africa wearing yellow jerseys, blowing vuvuzelas and doing the Diski Dance. In which case I’m already infected and about to die and go to heaven. Boo-hoo.
But, of course, I have digressed. Where was I? Oh, yes, I was about to lift you out of your British tabloid-blighted lives and put an “SA-positive” smile on your dial.
No problemo, babies. Fix yourselves a drink to suit the time of day (it may just be your personal time for Happy Hour?), flop back into your Laziman recliner, light something (I’m not encouraging you to break any laws, OK?) and try not to touch yourself while you watch this beautiful scenario unfold… (I suggest you click on “Full Screen” at top right to soak it all up in full Sensaround)
Wow. How was that for you. You feel like lighting up now, don’t you? Because the earth moved for you didn’t it? That’s cool. I felt like that too.
This 360 degree virtual tour malarkey was produced by John Gore and his very clever camera which is certainly a step up from the Kodak Instamatic I point at cute kids and puppies. Lekker, hey? And that was just Cape Town Stadium which, as my Cape Town readers are fond of pointing out, I didn’t like nearly as much as the stunning Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durbs or Soccer City in Jozi.
Never mind. No city can have the world’s most photographed mountain AND the best stadium. And, as soon as my mate John has got his 360 degree angles working around Moses Mabhida and Soccer City, I’ll take you on a tour of those too.
Because, as I keep saying, I only exist to give you good reason to want to keep on living in the most sublime country in the world. The one that is about to stage the most beautiful World Cup the planet has ever seen. In roughly 192 hours from now. Ye Gods, I’m spilling out of my skin here at that thought!
Fasten those seatbelts, Heartpeople. I have to issue a health and safety warning here… The following image may bring on feelings of dizziness and acute disorientation. You may experience extreme giddiness and an uncontainable desire to fall to the floor and writhe around in wanton wondrousness.
OK. Ready? Just roll around in the beauty of this little baby…
There. How was that for you? Did the earth move a little bit? I know. Nice, hey? All the work of a clever little clogs called John Gore who tootles around South Africa’s countryside and sets up his equally as clever camera wherever he pleases. Well, I suppose he hasn’t got to use it on Jacob Zuma’s wives’ residences yet. Not all of them anyway. But that is surely just a matter of time.
Never mind. He did capture the utter awesomeness of Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, far and away everybody’s fave World Cup 2010 stadium (unless you are a Capetonian and can’t bear the thought of liking anything that exists in Durban or, for that matter, anything outside of The Republic of Cape Town).
Anyway, if you’re an individual with an open mind, why not prepare a picnic and take a stroll over here, and just chill while wallowing in the Moses Mabhida experience with 360 degree sense-a-round.
Out of this world, isn’t it? No. Wrong. Slap-bang in the middle of Durbs, actually!
Whatever. But what is true is that our Heart & Sole Tour – yes, that unicycle ride from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of the evil perpetrated by landmines – is now near George. Near George? Yes. George. Western Cape. Where PW Botha lived. Sorry. I don’t know anything else about it. And I’m not finding out because old Heartie, myself and our German hanger-on (Croc Cologne, the guy who left German about 23 years ago and is still trying to get to Cape Agulhas) are in Calitzdorp. I suggest you get out the old map because it’s beyond me. But it’s very nice and warm up here on the edge of the Karoo desert and we’re visiting The Heartman’s parents who are very accommodating and run a wonderful B&B called Spekboom Cottages.
This translates into “Bacon Tree Cottages” in English and if anybody knows why or has seen trees with strips of streaky rashers hanging off them, please do write in and let us all know. In the meantime, we’re enjoying being thoroughly spoilt and, when we start getting shifty glances from the locals, we’ll head back to George and start riding towards Mossel Bay. We think we’re only about 360km or so from Cape Town but we’re too scared to ask anybody in case we’re not.
This has been one long roadtrip. But we’re loving it and now know why a certified madventurer like Kingsley Holgate doesn’t bother with sitting around on a sofa and catching the 7pm news before retiring with a nice milky cocoa after putting the dogs out. This adventuring lark is seriously addictive!
When intelligence (I think that’s the right word to use) surfaced in Durban this week that Helen Zille, Queen of the Republic of Cape Town, had ordered that Durban’s splendiferous Moses Mabhida Stadium be uprooted, placed gently on an aircraft carrier borrowed from Barack Obama and brought to Green Point to replace the supporating carbuncle her city contrived to construct, there was only one thing for it.
Run and hide. But Obed Mlaba, His Jovial And Corpulent Mayorness of Durban, decided to stand up (slowly) and be counted. So, after restricting his seven-course lunch to just five hours, he stood up (slowly), burped (lengthily) and decreed that all of Durban’s war arsenal be immediately deployed to defend our new stadium, widely considered to be a thing of radical phenomenalness and well worth protecting.
The result is this…
You can laugh all you want, Cape Town, but be warned: this tank has seen off many wannabe invaders since 1922, including a couple of rather large and badly-behaved Aussie rugby players, so don't try anything, OK?
There. I reckon that’s put HM Helen in her place, don’t you? She presided over Cape Town’s building of that “half-sucked Polo Mint” of a World Cup stadium… so she can ruddy well take her tea on her balcony and have to look at it!
* A totally rad doff of the old tin hat to my war correspondent, Jimmy Reynolds, for bravely bringing this pic back from the frontline
Ever since I broke the news on this blog that the grass was struggling to grow at Cape Town’s dodgy new World Cup stadium, city officials have been toiling day and night to, in their local parlance, “maak ‘n plan”.
There was every danger that Green Point Stadium was to be renamed Brown Point Stadium due to the brown patches that were breaking out all over the playing surface.
But a very relieved Capetonian has now sent me a latest picture which shows that the Cape Town organising committee, in a total panic after my startling revelations, clearly got somebody to stitch together 863,294 snooker table baize cloths to place over their fast-deceasing kikuyu grass. Either that or Queen Helen of the Republic of Cape Town decreed that many truckloads of cheap labour be trucked in from the Cape Flats to paint the pitch a deep green shade with Plascon “Pitch and All” Verdant Green No. 2.
So I’m chuffed to say that, despite my worst fears, Cape Town will not let the side down after all come June, 2010. And here is the proof…
It remains one of the world's most boring stadium designs but at least the Capies have managed to put the Green into Green Point!
Unlike Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, an architectural feat of total stunningness, the designers who were let loose on this thing (above) are clearly of the “functionality” genre. Mind you, given the atrocious weather which will descend on the poor World Cup fans who have to support their teams in Cape Town, one imagines that top priority on the brief was to try to keep them dry.
Hence the little hole in the roof and Green Point’s remarkable similarity to a “half-chewed Polo Mint”. I think that footie fans would probably feel less claustrophobic in one of those dingy clubs in Cape Town’s Long St on a Saturday night than in this virtually enclosed shopping mall look-a-like.
Still, the good people of the Republic of Cape Town are trying hard not to embarrass us and for this they should be supported, lauded and, if necessary, even counselled. They might have dropped their aloofness for a couple of hours around the recent World Cup draw but are still clearly out of their depth when trying to keep their end up as a World Cup venue. Poor little babies.
* A Moses Mabhida arch-like doff of the old red hat to Simon Fishley for sending this pic over to me.
Slick on the draw. South Africa and neighbouring independent state The Republic of Cape Town put on quite a show when hosting the Fifa World Cup 2010 finals draw.
Star of the show – and she certainly wasn’t leaving anybody in any doubt – was former Benoni bokkie Charlize Theron who was incredibly self-assured and didn’t sound or act like any Benoni bokkie I’ve come across (and there have been at least two).
Springbok skipper John “Barndog” Smit proved to the world that South Africans and rugby players do have a sense of humour when he said he didn’t mind South Africa facing tough opponents France, Mexico and Uruguay in Group A. “We’ll get in some good practice before we hit the semis and final,” said The Barndog. Yeah, right.
David Beckham, who everybody raves about more because of what he wears and the stick insect to whom he’s married than how he can bend a football behind defences, showed his London East End-bred humour by greeting our Benoni bokster with a “‘Ello sweetheart” and displaying his latest hairdo confection in the shape of a badger that’s been dragged through a hedge backwards. Nice, Becks.
OK. Time for a pic before I remind you of the full draw and give you the most authoritative assessment of the draw you’ll read anywhere (on an Umdloti blog)…
Fifa minion Jerome-ah Falcke-ah gives-ah us-ah a draw card action while David "Hedgehoghead" Beckham tries to catch our Charlize's attention with a handy signal of how big he is. Ooh, bee-have Dave! Pic courtesy of guardian.co.uk
Without any further hair-do, here’s that draw (with my hometown Durban’s fixtures in bold)…
Full groups for the 2010 World Cup finals
Group ASouth Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group C England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia
Group E Holland, Japan, Cameroon, Denmark
Group F Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
Group G Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Group H Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland
Provisional match schedule
Match 1, June 11 1500: South Africa v Mexico (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 2, June 11 1930: Uruguay v France (Cape Town)
Match 17, June 16 1930: South Africa v Uruguay (Pretoria)
Match 18, June 17 1230: France v Mexico (Polokwane)
Match 33, June 22 1500: Mexico v Uruguay (Rustenburg)
Match 34, June 22 1500: France v South Africa (Bloemfontein)
Match 3, June 12 1230: Argentina v Nigeria (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 4, June 12 1500: South Korea v Greece (Port Elizabeth)
Match 19, June 17 1500: Greece v Nigeria (Bloemfontein)
Match 20, June 17 1930: Argentina v South Korea (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 35, June 22 1930: Nigeria v South Korea (Durban)
Match 36, June 22 1930: Greece v Argentina (Polokwane)
Match 5, June 12 1930: England v USA (Rustenburg)
Match 6, June 13 1230: Algeria v Slovenia (Polokwane)
Match 22, June 18 1500: Slovenia v USA (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 23, June 18 1930: England v Algeria (Cape Town)
Match 37, June 23 1500: Slovenia v England (Port Elizabeth)
Match 38, June 23 1500: USA v Algeria (Pretoria)
Match 7, June 13 1500: Germany v Australia (Durban)
Match 8, June 13 1930: Serbia v Ghana (Pretoria)
Match 21, June 18 1230: Germany v Serbia (Port Elizabeth)
Match 24, June 19 1230: Ghana v Australia (Rustenburg)
Match 39, June 23 1930: Ghana v Germany (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 40, June 23 1930: Australia v Serbia (Nelspruit)
Match 9, June 14 1230: Holland v Denmark (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 10, June 14 1500: Japan v Cameroon (Bloemfontein)
Match 25, June 19 1500: Holland v Japan (Durban)
Match 26, June 19 1930: Cameroon v Denmark (Pretoria)
Match 43, June 24 1930: Denmark v Japan (Rustenburg)
Match 44, June 24 1930: Cameroon v Holland (Cape Town)
Match 11, June 14 1930: Italy v Paraguay (Cape Town)
Match 12, June 15 1230: New Zealand v Slovakia (Rustenburg)
Match 27, June 20 1230: Slovakia v Paraguay (Bloemfontein)
Match 28, June 20 1500: Italy v New Zealand (Nelspruit)
Match 41, June 24 1500: Slovakia v Italy (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 42, June 24 1500: Paraguay v New Zealand (Polokwane)
Match 13, June 15 1500: Ivory Coast v Portugal (Port Elizabeth)
Match 14, June 15 1930: Brazil v North Korea (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 29, June 20 1930: Brazil v Ivory Coast (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 30, June 21 1230: Portugal v North Korea (Cape Town)
Match 45, June 25 1500: Portugal v Brazil (Durban)
Match 46, June 25 1500: North Korea v Ivory Coast (Nelspruit)
Match 15, June 16 1230: Honduras v Chile (Nelspruit)
Match 16, June 16 1500: Spain v Switzerland (Durban)
Match 31, June 21 1500: Chile v Switzerland (Port Elizabeth)
Match 32, June 21 1930: Spain v Honduras (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 47, June 25 1930: Chile v Spain (Pretoria)
Match 48, June 25 1930: Switzerland v Honduras (Bloemfontein)
Match 49, June 26 1500: Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B (Port Elizabeth)
Match 50, June 26 1930: Winner Group C v Runner-up Group D (Rustenburg)
Match 51, June 27 1500: Winner Group D v Runner-up Group C (Bloemfontein)
Match 52, June 27 1930: Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 53, June 28 1500: Winner Group E v Runner-up Group F (Durban) NB: Probably Holland vs one of Paraguay and Slovakia.
Match 54, June 28 1930: Winner Group G v Runner-up Group H (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 55, June 29 1500: Winner Group F v Runner-up Group E (Pretoria)
Match 56, June 29 1930: Winner Group H v Runner-up Group G (Cape Town)
Match 57, July 2 1500: Winner of Match 53 v Winner of Match 54 (Port Elizabeth)
Match 58, July 2 1930: Winner of Match 49 v Winner of Match 50 (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 59, July 3 1500: Winner of Match 52 v Winner of Match 51 (Cape Town)
Match 60, July 3 1930: Winner of Match 55 v Winner of Winner of Match 56 (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 61, July 6 1930: Winner Match 58 v Winner Match 57 (Cape Town)
Match 62, July 7 1930: Winner Match 59 v Winner Match 60 (Durban)… NB: Most likely Argentina vs Germany!
Match 63, July 10 1930: Loser Match 61 v Loser Match 62 (Port Elizabeth)
Match 64, July 11 1930: Winner Match 61 v Winner Match 62 (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Hey, are you still here? Coolness. My point-form summary (for what it’s worth):
* South Africa in a humungously tough group with world-class cheats France (who handballed my Irish mates out of the finals), Mexico and Uruguay and unlikely to progress further than their training ground due to fear and anxiety about letting down a nation which has no expectations of them at all.
* We in Durban will get to see playing live at our truly world-class new ground, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Portugal vs Brazil and, probably, Argentina vs Germany in one of the semi-finals. Awesomeness overload.
* Durbs-on-Sea (and me in particular) will witness Holland play twice… which is totally epic as very tall and gorgeous blondes will travel over with the Dutch and undoubtedly romp in bikinis in our sub-tropical winter-warm bit of the Indian Ocean. I’m completely fine with that. And, as a bonus and as you can see right here, the Orange People have, unlike the whale-murdering Japanese and the odd Spaniard, embraced our vuvuzela like it’s their own. I offer a massive doff of the old red hat and a loud paaaarrrrp of my vuvu to our friends from Amsterdam and any other urban conurbations which exist in the Netherlands. Jy’s vreeslik welkom hier in Durban, maatjies. Especially your flaxen-locked Amazonians. *Insert winky face*