Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The longest day
My next match saw me travelling east to Port Elizabeth, where I had tickets for Germany against Serbia. This involved an overnight coach trip from Stellenbosch which took around 9 hours and dumped me in PE at 6am, PE took a long while to wake up, so I explored the (empty) fan fest and found some breakfast.
I met up with the Lau Mann, and we headed down to the new stadium where he applied his retro face paint design just after we had seen the German team bus drift past.
Say what you want about the Germans, but the legacy of Saigon Raiders, Hofbrau Munchen, and the fact the two people I knew in PE that day were both German and both going to the game meant that I was (partially) wearing their colours that day.
In stark contrast to the Italy game, there was a more natural atmosphere in the stadium. The small pocket of Serbia fans were over by the main stand, although I was sat next to one of the few Serbs scattered randomly amongst what was overwhelmingly a German support, and I found myself at the corner flag in row 4 with large pockets of Germans behind me. This gave me a great view of Ozil's back as he took corner after corner, but the Germans ultimately fell foul to bad luck while playing a strong opponent.
This meant that the German fans were getting frustrated, and with frustration comes rapid hand gestures. Germans generally come with beer, so put the two together and you get... second half beer showers. This was not well received by the locals and the small number of Americans who were in the vicinity. These two groups of 'soccer' fans were also vociferous in their displeasure at people standing during the game, so there were a number of unsavoury exchanges during this game which culminated about 12 rows behind me in a large scale bout of handbags.
I spoke to Richard Schreiber after the game, who was at the time sitting in Johannesburg contemplating USA's exit before they came back from the dead to draw with Slovenia. He's going back to the US fairly soon, so would only see him again if I was to end up on the west coast, which isn't out of the realms of possibility by any stretch.
After feeding and beering up, it was time to observe England's abject failure to produce anything like top class football, and then try to meet Henno's mate Chris who was putting me up for the night. They were in a club, and trying to identify them proved a bit tricky. I had to keep myself going with Jaegerbombs as I was approaching the end of a day in which I had been on my feet for a good 20 hours, but eventually it was over.