Arsenal v PSV Eindhoven, Saturday 8th August 2015, 3pm

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I finished my contract in South Africa at the end of July, but as I didn’t have another job to go to we thought we might as well spend some more time in southern Africa until something turned up. My son, Tom, was heading over for a few days holiday in August and as we couldn’t go too far whilst we waited for him to arrive Jen and I headed off to Moloka National Park for a while.

Moloka was good. We stayed in a tree house well away from everyone else with just the various animals that visited the nearby waterhole for company.

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There was plenty of variety including rhinos, which we hadn’t realised were in the park. If we’d known we might not have spent a couple of hours wandering around the bush on foot in defiance of the rules. There were fighting squirrels too that were well worth watching.

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Driving around the Moloka made a pleasant change from some of the bigger, busier parks. I don’t think they allow day visitors and so there were very few other cars. There aren’t any lions or elephants so I suppose a lot of people probably wouldn’t be too keen to visit. One evening we saw meerkats and a bat-eared fox and as we hadn’t yet seen either of those creatures in the wild they trump any of the big five in my book.

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After Moloka we spent a couple of nights on a boat on the River Vaal. Whilst not as remote as the treehouse, we still had the river pretty much to ourselves and just tied up to some rushes in an inlet for the two nights. I did some fishing and caught a carp but as we had plenty of food I put it back.

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We picked up Tom from Johannesburg airport on Friday and drove across to Durban. Jen and I had been there a few times before but we’d always flown. The six-hour drive was fine until the final stages when the rush hour traffic seemed to start thirty miles outside of the city.

The plan for the Saturday had been to watch the Springboks take on Argentina but I’d noticed that the final of an Under 19 football tournament was scheduled for three o’clock in the Moses Mabhida stadium just across the road from the rugby ground. The five o’clock kick-off in the rugby meant that Tom and I had time to watch the first seventy minutes or so of the football first.

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The Durban Tournament is an annual under 19 competition with six top international sides (or rather five plus Celtic) joining the South African U19 National side and a Kwa-Zulu Natal Academy select in a week-long competition.

We’d timed our arrival to coincide with the final between Arsenal and PSV Eindhoven. I’d hoped for a decent crowd, partly because there were twenty thousand people arriving for the rugby who might just pop in, but mainly because Arsenal seem to have a decent fanbase in South Africa.

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Unfortunately the smattering of Arsenal shirts in the crowd was no more than I’d expect to see at a Chiefs or Pirates game and I doubt there were more than three hundred people in the stadium, despite the free admission.

A few rugby fans had wandered over, but by half-time had cleared off back to their car-park braai.

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Arsenal, with Steve Gatting coaching them, took the lead in the first half when one of their kids wellied it home from a good few yards outside of the box. The Dutch lads levelled after the break and it was still even when we left mid-way through the second half.

Whilst I haven’t got around to checking the score, I did see a photo in the paper a day or two later of Arsenal with the trophy so presumably they won it.

 

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