Supersport United v Moroka Swallows, Saturday 19th October 2013, 3pm


Time for our first football game. Or rather the first football game of this visit to South Africa. I’d been here before for the 2010 World Cup and it was that trip that had me thinking that I’d be happy to live here someday. Three years on, here we are.

It’s fairly hot in South Africa at this time of year, although it’s prone to thunderstorms late in the afternoon and so to get the most out of the day we got up early and were hiking at Groenkloof Nature Reserve by 7am.

We did about ten miles along the various trails, getting up close to zebras in particular. We’d seen a couple of giraffes there the previous week but couldn’t find them this time.

You know what zebras look like, so here's a Guinea Fowl instead.

You know what zebras look like, so here’s a Guinea Fowl instead.

Hiking done we set off for the Lucas Moripe stadium in Atteridgeville where Supersport United play their home games. It’s a township on the edge of Pretoria with a lot of single storey houses with corrugated iron roofs. A quick check on Wikipedia suggests that only 0.2% of the population are white. That tallies with what we saw as we drove towards the stadium and was a bit of an about turn from the rugby match crowd the previous week.

I hadn’t been able to pre-book parking but talked my way into the Media Car park with the help of a fifty rand note. Just as I was getting out of the car I got a call from the Security Manager at work. The cars are fitted with trackers and he gets an alert whenever anyone goes anywhere considered dangerous. I was able to reassure him by confirming that nobody had tried to murder us so far and that we would be out of there before it got dark.

Incidentally, we have two panic buttons in the car in case we, well, panic I suppose. One under the steering wheel and the other in the boot for those occasions when you accidentally fall in whilst loading your shopping.

I can’t remember exactly how much the tickets cost, but I think they were around forty rand. The Lucas Moripe Stadium is a twenty nine thousand capacity bowl with a running track and one covered stand. There’s a nice view of a hillside where rocks have been strategically placed to spell out support for the ANC.

The Lucas Moripe Stadium.

The Lucas Moripe Stadium.

Supersport United and Moroka Swallows are both in the top tier Premier Soccer League, but this game was a quarter final of the Telekom Cup. There weren’t many chances early on despite the best efforts of one of the away defenders who seemed determined to set the opposition up. He waved an arm in the air in apology more times in the opening half hour than Curtis Fleming would have done in a month.

Nobody capitalised on the errors though and the teams went off goalless at half time. I got myself some chicken and pap from a stall on the opposite side of the ground. Pap is like mash, but made from maize. I can’t see it catching on in the UK.

The chicken was good though.

The chicken was good though.

People were still coming in as the second half started, but I doubt the total attendance was more than a thousand. The home fans who weren’t sat up in the main stand were grouped together on the opposite side doing that African bobbing up and down from one foot to the other dancing, a bit like ten year old boys at a school disco or middle aged men at a Specials concert.

They had a few brass instruments to accompany them and didn’t seem to be to be at all bothered by whatever was happening on the pitch.

Supersport fans.

Supersport fans.

There was a smaller group of Swallows fans just to the left of the home support and they were making just as much noise. There was no animosity between the two groups and none of the singing or chanting appeared to be aimed at the opposing supporters. Mind you, none of it seemed aimed at the pitch either, it just looked to be a bunch of people who had gone out for a sing and a dance and by chance happened to be doing it near a football pitch.

Swallows fans.

Swallows fans.

An opening goal on the hour from Supersport was quickly cancelled out by the visitors. A series of good saves from the Swallows keeper then took the game into extra-time. I wasn’t too pleased with that as the rain looked imminent and I had been hoping to be back in the car before it started.

Substitute Phulo Thala put the home side back in front just before the end of the first period of extra-time and his team mate George Maluleka then added another soon after the re-start to clinch the semi-final spot for Supersport.

That was enough for us and we cleared off early in an attempt to avoid the rain and the murdering.


3 Responses to “Supersport United v Moroka Swallows, Saturday 19th October 2013, 3pm”

  1. playfortoday Says:

    Don’t think I don’t know who you are referencing with the Specials ‘skankin’ stuff! Anyway this is far more exciting the whole will he wont he be left burning in the tyres will certainly get the readership up.

    • onthetrailofthelionking Says:

      I thought you would get it.

      We were at one last week that was a lot more dangerous. The refreshment stalls were stocked with spirits. Fortunately it was a lunchtime kick-off so we were away before they took effect.

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