Bidvest Wits v Orlando Pirates, Sunday 5th October 2014, Noon.

1 - opening shot

I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that nobody is ever more than ten feet away from a rat, although I’ve no idea where the theory comes from. Rentokill probably. Still, it’s likely to be true in some places I suppose and I’d hazard a guess that Johannesburg is one of them.

On the drive to this game we went through a few parts of the city that looked as if they get their rubbish collected annually and in an indication of what was to come I noticed a squashed rat at the roadside.

The match was at the Bidvest Wits stadium inside the University of Johannesburg and it’s not the easiest of places to find or get into. After picking up a visitors pass we made our way through most of the campus before ditching the car in a car park designated for post-graduate students. I reckoned there would be more chance that one of them might drive a year-old Corolla and perhaps it wouldn’t look as much out of place as elsewhere.

I was surprised to see security on the gate to the ground as this was a reserve team game, or more accurately, a Multichoice Diski Challenge fixture. It’s a new competition intended to give younger players on the fringes of the PSL squads an alternative to being loaned out to first division sides. I was even more surprised when the security fella told us we couldn’t take a couple of cans of coke in with us. Whatever. I’m beyond kicking up a fuss.

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

Bidvest Wits were taking on Orlando Pirates and whilst the home side had the best of the early possession, the visitors had a couple of decent chances of their own. They stopped for a water break on twenty-five minutes and at the restart one of the Wits player got to the byeline and crossed for a team-mate to score with a Trevor Brooking header.

I’m confident that Brooking must have scored more than one header in his playing career before moving on to protecting West Ham’s interests from within the FA, but I’m equally confident that if you are of a certain age then you’ll be able to picture just exactly how that Wits goal looked.

I’d assumed that most of the hundred and forty fans in attendance were supporting the Pirates, but that opening goal got a decent cheer.

View from the Main Stand.

View from the Main Stand.

At half time Jen and I nipped back to the car park to drink the cans that had been too dangerous to bring in. For the second half we decided to sit near the corner flag on the opposite side of the pitch.

Rat corner.

Rat corner.

Moving over to the far corner turned out to be the best decision of the day as meant that we were in Rat City.

Quite cute in a way.

Quite cute in a way.

There was a wall to our right that consisted of as much hole as brick. It was perfect for rat housing and we spent most of the second half watching rats collecting food, building nests and even sunbathing.

Yes, sunbathing. Really.

Yes, sunbathing. Really.

The highlight though was seeing one rat moving pink baby rats from one hole to another in its mouth and then what appeared to be a different rat moving them back again. I’m not sure if one rat was stealing them and the other recovering them or whether we were witnessing a house swap.

Whatever was going on, it was compelling viewing.

Doing rat stuff.

Doing rat stuff.

Back on the pitch, a late goal from the Pirates after a scramble inside the six yard box looked to have earned the visitors a point until Wits nipped straight up the other end to score a last minute winner. I missed that one as I was waiting to see what one of the rats would have in its mouth when reappearing from the rat baby hole.

Meanwhile, there was a match going on.

Meanwhile, there was a match going on.

So, there we are. A Sunday lunchtime game and a wildlife class all at the same time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

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