The Waiting Game

As I flew overnight to Joburg I relished the thought of a nice relaxing day on Sat upon arrival. Plane arrives at 8:30am, game kicks off at 8:30pm & Rustenburg is just a couple of hours drive from Joburg. What could go wrong ?

The first inkling of a challenging day ahead was when the captain came on the PA half an hour before landing and teasingly announced; “Ladies & Gentlemen, the visibility down below is about 200m, we don’t have too much fuel for extra circling and if the fog doesn’t improve we may have to divert to Durban”

It was quite funny to see the sleep deprived, groggy brains process this information and then about a second later about 300 people collectively gagged on their cornflakes. WTF !!! Durban. Anyway, the fog did lift as apparently it’s apt to do in these parts and we landed at 9am.

ALL I had to do now was print out match tickets, check into accomodation & get bus up to the game.

A cacophony of noise hit you as soon as you reached arrivals. This wasn’t a pleasant Phil Spector Wall of Noise, this was a screeching someone just trod on the cat Vuvuzela orchestra with the only problem being that the assorted ‘players’ had no idea how to play the damned thing yet. Just think Primary School triangle and recorder class, double the volume and you’ll be close.

Found the queue for the match tickets (FIFA in it’s wisdom insisted you could only print them in S. Africa). It was quite long but what the heck & settled back to do what us Brits do best; politely queue. (If only that was an Olympic sport). An hour later I had managed to nudge by bags forward twice. A lady came along the line and told us the computer system was down but don’t worry; “there are loads of places round town you can print tickets at”

So onto plan B, find the accomodation first then print out the tickets. I suppose not bringing a print out of the address was my fault but we eventually managed to work out which campus of University of Joburg I was trying to get to (I was sure it wasn’t the Soweto one).

The people operating the accomodation at University were great but I was a little disconcerted to hear the bus to Rustenburg was leaving at 2pm for an 8:30 kick off ! Apparently there were a lot of Americans going up and they wanted to go early to savour the atmosphere??? Rustenburg basically exists in life to service a gigigantic platinum mine. Cape Town it ain’t.

So onto Plan C, dumped the bags without checking in, rushed off to Cresta Mall shopping centre (30 min drive) to print out the match tickets. Joburg seems to be quite similar to LA; well spread out, you have to drive on freeways to get anywhere and there are certain parts of town you prob don’t want to spend time in. We saw a few when driving, they looked like South Central LA or perhaps Detroit.

Found the ticket office in Cresta Mall and they helpfully told us they could sell us Park and Ride tickets for tonights game but they didn’t do match tickets. Had we thought of the ticket office at the airport ? GRRRRRRRRRRR

Onto Plan D, (mild panic making it’s presence felt) drive to Sandton (45 mins away) because they’re sure there’s a ticket office there. Sandton is a beautiful rich suburb (think Beverley Hills) but a long way away, well on the way to Pretoria. We eventually get there, the traffic is appalling and Christu (more about him later) let’s me out the car, tells me to find the ticket machine and he’ll find me after parking the car.

Shout out now to Christu, a volunteer from the University who was driving me round in his wife’s car in this slow motion tragi-comedy. Can’t thank him enough (I’ve tried) – he basically saved my whole day and from the kindness of his heart. In fact we had a great chat driving round.

Nelson Mandela shopping mall (where Christu dropped me off) is about the size of Europe and I soon realised that although I might be able to eventually print out tickets, the chances of seeing Christu again were somewher between slim and none. Eventually found a supermarket called Checkers in the basement where they were actually printing tickets. Another glacially slow queue and it was already 2:30pm but I could see people leaving with tickets.

The only clue I could find about Christu was a brochure I had picked up from the event company which he seemed to be part of. Called the number and spoke to a lady (who subsequently turned out to be Christu’s mother). She said they had no-one called Christo but luckily one of her colleagues worked out I meant Christu not Christo and she remembered that she did indeed have a son who worked for her company.

Received the tickets and sped back to campus to check in (time now 3:30). There was a 2nd bus leaving to Rustenburg at 3:30 (luckily some extra guests had arrived) so after a nanosecond change of clothes to put on England shirt we’re off.

Uneventful journey, big traffic jams seemed unimportant now, until we reached Rustenburg. Our driver couldn’t quite grasp that he didn’t have FIFA accreditation and the security were not going to just let him drop his guests right outside the stadium. So after driving round in circles for 90 mins we’re eventually opted for Park and Ride like everyone else.

I looked at my watch as we got to Rustenburg stadium. 7:50pm – 40 mins before kick off. So much for the nice relaxing day…

To top it all England only drew (more about that later) and we sat in the car park after the game waiting for 2 of the guests who had actually got on another bus but hadn’t told anyone. We got back to the University at 3:30am.

No sleep, no food, no shower and most of the past 18 hours spent waiting.

Welcome to the World Cup

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2 Comments on “The Waiting Game”

  1. Ian Says:

    I am SO glad that everything is going to plan :(((
    Seems even the result was “Plan F”

  2. Doug Says:

    Well ol’ chap at least you’ve got the sunchine!!!

    Bring me back a Vuvuzela Nige …. the ones in Asda are not the real deal and my neighbours are waiting!!!!


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