Golden Lions v Griquas, Sunday 12th October 2013, 3pm

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Well, after a summer of uncertainty as to where we would end up we finally got to South Africa, where I’m working on the construction of a bloody big power station. It’s way off being finished and so I hope to be here for long enough to see plenty of whatever this part of the world has to offer.

Jen and I had already been in the country for a couple of weeks before we made it to a match. We hadn’t been entirely idle though. Apart from the usual settling in stuff we’d managed a couple of hikes including a walk around the Tswaing Crater. It’s a big hole in the ground caused by a meteorite or something. We’d seen a similar crater earlier in the summer in Iceland, funnily enough. This one was bigger though.

No old bikes or shopping carts in this one either.

No old bikes or shopping carts in this one either.

We’d also paid a visit to a Cheetah Sanctuary. That was ok, particularly the bit where we got to pat a tame one. Or a drugged one. They had wild dogs and vultures too, although we weren’t allowed to pat any of those. Never mind, there should be plenty of time for that sort of thing in the future.

He'd have your arm off, apparently.

He’d have your arm off, apparently.

Good as all that wildlife stuff is, it’s African sport that I plan to be writing about. Mainly football, I’d expect, but I’m planning on watching a fair bit of cricket and rugby too when I get the chance. It’s rugby that we’ll start things off with and a Currie Cup game at Ellis Park between Golden Lions and Griquas.

Ellis Park is the place where South Africa won the World Cup in ’95. That was the tournament where Jonah Lomu trampled over half the England team in the semi-final. He didn’t manage to do the same in the final though and you might remember Nelson Mandela in his Springbok shirt handing over the trophy to Francois Pienaar.

Remember this?

Remember this?

We’d been staying in one of those posh gated communities near Pretoria and so it wasn’t much of an effort to get to Johannesburg. One thing that struck me on the drive over was the number of people walking alongside the roads. A lot of the women tend to balance boxes, no-handed, on their head as they stroll along. The sight of one dressed in grey had me slamming on my brakes as I waited for the inevitable camera flash.

As we approached Ellis Park we encountered the parking attendants. I’m not sure how many of them were official and how many of them were just dressed up in a high visibility vest so that they could guide people into parking by the side of the road for a fee.

We’d pre-paid for parking and so just flashed the ticket to be waived on towards the stadium. On one occasion I ignored the fella, causing him to run fifty yards after the car to try to see the ticket. We were eventually directed to the car park of the stadium next door and had a five minute walk from the car. It all seemed safe enough as we made our way into the ground.

Plenty to eat.

Plenty to eat.

We had eighty rand tickets for the West Stand. That’s near enough a fiver. Cheap enough to expect a decent crowd I’d have thought, but no. There were only about a thousand people there, although the season was drawing to an end and I got the impression that the Currie Cup wasn’t as much of an attraction as the Super 14 competition or whatever it’s called these days.

The crowd near us.

The crowd near us.

Those that were there were entertained pre-match by cheerleaders. They were a bit porkier than the ones I’d watched at the sporting events in Korea, but a little more gymnastic rather than just decorative.

So, what else can I tell you? There are fellas who serve drinks and ice creams at your seat. I had a bottle of something called granadilla. No idea what it was. Maybe something similar to pineapple. The other point of note was that people booed when the kickers were taking their penalties and conversions. I didn’t think rugby fans did that.

An action shot.

An action shot.

And the game? Well, I’m fairly sure that the visiting Griquas team had already been eliminated from the competition, whilst if the Lions won this final group stage fixture then they would progress through to the semi-finals.

Whilst it looked at times as if the Lions players wouldn’t be too unhappy about losing and concluding their season that afternoon, they did eventually win to take their place in the semi-finals and delay the start of their holidays by another week.

It was an easy introduction to South African sport for us. Pre-paid secure parking, a low crowd in a reasonably safe area and ice creams brought to our seats. I doubt it will be like that every week.

One Response to “Golden Lions v Griquas, Sunday 12th October 2013, 3pm”

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