Appollo XI v Secunda Stars, Sunday 23rd November 2014, 3pm

secunda stars

After watching the PSL game in KaNyamazane the previous day, the plan for Sunday was to drive through the Kruger National Park and spot a bit of wildlife. We’d been there the previous weekend and seen so many elephants and rhinos that by the time we left we were barely slowing down for them.

I’d discovered that there was a third tier ABC Motsephe League fixture taking place in Kabokweni, which is near enough on the way home and so the schedule for the day was to get up early, enter the park at the Malelane gate, see some animals over the next few hours and then leave via the Phabeni gate en-route to the match.

It all started well enough. We were inside Kruger by six-thirty in the morning and sticking to the un-tarred roads we got lucky with the usual suspects. The highlight of that early morning spell was stumbling across a herd of elephants that hung around near to the car for about twenty minutes.

There were around ten of them.

There were around ten of them.

The adults didn’t pay us much attention, but one small one that may have been three or four years old decided that he would try a charge from around ten feet away. He trumpeted at us, flapped his ears and then took a couple of menacing paces in our direction.

I had no intention of moving and would have been quite happy to have taken a dent to the car. I’m sure he’d have come off worse. The two paces were as far as he got and a stare from his mother calmed him down. Hopefully a spell on the naughty step followed.

Toddler elephant losing his temper.

Toddler elephant losing his temper.

In the afternoon we spotted a few wild dogs. Or rather we initially spotted half a dozen cars surrounding the wild dogs.You wouldn’t think wild dogs would cause so much excitement, but they are pretty rare. Certainly rarer than elephants anyway.

Wild dogs are something that we‘d not yet seen outside of a sanctuary pen and so it was a welcome sighting. With a bit of luck there’ll be fewer people around if we see some more.

Not as wild as that toddler elephant.

Not as wild as that toddler elephant.

We’d taken a longer route than I’d originally envisaged and didn’t leave the park until after 3pm. We’d made up some time by me exceeding the 50kmph speed limit, but lost it again after I was stopped and ticketed.

It then took more time than expected to find Kabokweni and longer still to find the stadium. It’s not too far away from Kruger Airport, which is probably the only airport terminal in the world with a thatched roof. By the time that we got there the game was into the second half.

Kabokweni stadium.

Kabokweni stadium.

The home side, Appollo XI, in white, were a goal up and looked well on top. I presume that’s the correct spelling of their name, as that’s how it’s painted on their team van. I’d like to think that they’ve got an Armstrong and an Aldrin in their team.

I stood by the railings to the left of the main stand and watched from there. A few fans were over on the far side but the majority were sitting under cover.

The covered stand.

The covered stand.

I had a chat with a fella called Peter who had brought his own chair. He told me that he used to play at this ground years ago and, just like everyone that I seem to talk to, spoke about the role that playing football has in keeping unemployed teenagers away from drink and drugs. I wonder if people sometimes mistake me for Prince Charles.

He was surprised to hear that we have unemployment, drink and drug problems in the UK. Although he was less surprised to hear that we have fewer elephants.

Peter keeps an eye out for young people drinking.

Peter keeps an eye out for young people drinking.

Our conversation was interrupted by a Secunda Star cleverly sidestepping the keeper before, when faced with an open goal from five yards out, somehow managing to blaze the ball over the bar. The entire ground roared with laughter including, I suspect, his own team-mates. It certainly took Peter’s mind off more serious matters.

A few moments prior to the glorious missed chance.

A few moments prior to the glorious missed chance.

We didn’t stay for long as we still had a three and a half hour drive ahead of us, but it had been worth calling in.

 

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