Zimbabwe Republic Police v Ngezi Platinum, Saturday 20th June 2015, 3pm

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It’s taken a while but we finally got around to visiting Zimbabwe, or at least got around to visiting Zimbabwe officially. We’d been in Kruger a few weeks earlier and whilst out walking one evening I’d waded across the Limpopo to stand on the Zimbabwean soil on the opposite bank.

There wasn’t much to see or do whilst stood there and so I waded back across before I got into trouble.

Illegal Immigrant.

Illegal Immigrant.

This ‘official’ visit was much better. We flew to Harare and had three nights there before moving onto Bulawayo. The plan had been to catch the overnight train between the two cities but on arriving at Harare station we were informed that there were no sleeper compartments on that night’s train. We caught a flight instead.

Harare Station

Harare Station

We had a further three nights in Bulawayo, staying at the colonial style Bulawayo club. I’ve never seen so many sepia photographs of blokes with big whiskers. We then managed to make an overnight train journey to Victoria Falls. We’d been on the posh Blue Train in South Africa a few days earlier but this journey was very different.

The Zimbabwean train used carriages built in Birmingham in the 1950s and I doubt they’d been cleaned since. We booked a first class compartment designed for four people and whilst it was a bargain at a total of $48 I was never really comfortable. The guard warned us of gangs of thieves wandering the train and suggested that we double lock the door to try to prevent them jemmying their way in whilst we slept. I didn’t sleep as much as I might have done after that advice.

Bulawayo station

Bulawayo Station

The views through the window were spectacular though, or at least they were once I’d cleaned it. In defence of Zimbabweans and their railway, everyone we spoke to was very friendly and didn’t give the slightest hint that they might have murder or robbery in mind.

View from the window.

View from the window.

At Victoria Falls we did just as you’d imagine and watched the water cascading down. We took a boat trip down the Zambezi and Jen ran a Half Marathon in her second best time ever. So, all pretty good stuff.

Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls.

And what about the football? Well, we got to two games, both in Harare. The first one featured the Police team who are more commonly referred to by their previous name of the Black Mambas rather than their current official ZRP moniker. They play at the Morris Depot ground inside a police compound which was very conveniently situated around five minutes drive from our hotel.

We had to hand over our passports to the armed guards at the entrance, presumably to deter us from getting up to any mischief and then hand over a further dollar each to watch the game.

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

Zimbabwe has used US dollars for a few years now after some pretty impressive inflation left their own currency virtually worthless.

In fact, whilst we were there, the banks were finally getting around to changing the old currency for the new at a rate of so many quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars to one US. We were frequently offered old notes and whilst I bought a few of them I didn’t manage to get a quadrillion dollar bill. The highest I got was a ten trillion dollar note. Hopefully their currency will recover someday and we can retire on it.

"This time next year, Rodney..."

“This time next year, Rodney…”

The Morris Depot had a concrete terrace that went around one side and end with a run-down scaffolding-like stand built on top of it and a further stand opposite. It has a five thousand capacity but that wasn’t remotely threatened by the turnout for this game.

The pitch wasn’t in the best of condition with odd sections of grass that showed more growth than other parts of the playing area in a look reminiscent of those straggly areas that dogs have on their wrists.

View from the Main Stand.

View from the Main Stand.

The battered dugouts fitted in well with the rest of the surroundings, with smashed perspex providing the substitutes little respite from the wind.

It was the dugouts that provided the highlight of the first half when in an attempt to retrieve the ball from the Mambas area one of the away players pushed it so hard that he smashed most of what remained of the perspex. It led to the inevitable spell of  ‘handbags’ before the lino intervened and made all of the subs sit down quietly, presumably with their hands on their heads.

A little maintenance required.

A little maintenance required.

One of the home players hit the bar on the half hour but that was about as close as either side got to scoring. The standard wasn’t great but I suppose that was to be expected with it being a second tier game. All of the matches in the Premier league had been called off due to an international game that weekend.

Good save.

Good save.

Neither side were able to break the deadlock and as we’d managed to avoid getting up to anything we weren’t supposed to, the armed guard on the gate was happy to give us back our passports on the way out.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Zimbabwe Republic Police v Ngezi Platinum, Saturday 20th June 2015, 3pm”

  1. Francisco Monteiro Says:

    Did you keep the tickets of these match you saw in the african countries? If yes couldn’t we make some swap please?
    Greetings from Brazil

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