Posts Tagged ‘ABC Motsephe League’

Moretele Gunners v North West Shining Stars, Tuesday 16th June 2015, 3pm

July 24, 2015

1 - moretele gunners

I don’t often get to games on a Tuesday afternoon but I’d taken some time off work and extended the weekend to a far more preferable five days. It should be like that all of the time, two days a week at work is sufficient for anyone.

The third tier ABC Motsephe League game at Temba was the final event of a break that had started at Pretoria Station the previous Friday lunchtime. Jen and I travelled from there to Hoedspruit on the Blue Train. It’s very posh. We’d been on a Premier Classe train last year where we had a fancy sleeping compartment, but this was another level. In fact, it was so posh that I had to buy a tie in order to be permitted to have my dinner.

The journey eastwards could probably have been done in around four hours in a car, but it stretched to twenty hours on the train, stopping for what seemed like no good reason at any number of places on the way where locals on the way to or from work stared in though the window at over-dressed people glugging champagne.

It's blue.

It’s blue.

And whilst champagne is all very nice, it wasn’t the best part of the journey. Oh no, the best bit was having a bath in our cabin. A bath! On a train! Does life get any better than that? I don’t think it does.

The water slopped about a little at times as the train picked up speed but I didn’t care. I was hoping we’d pull in at a station just so people could see me lying there and then faint in shock at sight of someone having a bath on a train.

In the bath. On a Train.

In the bath. On a Train.

Fresh from bathing on a train we spent the next three nights at the Thornybush Reserve, which borders Kruger. We had a bath there too, but it’s not the same as having one on a train. Where it did hold the advantage was in the wildlife.

There was so much good stuff around that we even had a lion wander into the camp to chase around and kill an impala on the decking where we ate lunch. We didn’t see it as we were still in bed a few yards away but we saw the still-warm aftermath when we got up for breakfast half an hour or so later.

Just like one of those CSI programmes off the telly

Just like one of those CSI programmes off the telly

As for stuff we were out of bed for, the leopard was probably the best. We managed to get up close to one that was dozing in the shade when the guide drove his truck through a few bushes. I was amazed at how big it was. It had a head the size of a basketball.

It was more a yawn than a roar.

It was more a yawn than a roar.

When basketball head tired of being stared at and wandered off we then managed to loop around to meet it and see it out in the open. Sighting of leopards have been pretty rare for us in our two years in Africa, the best we’d managed up to then was when a much smaller one paused for a couple of seconds, stared at us and then disappeared. This was much better.

Failing to conceal itself behind a tree.

Failing to conceal itself behind a tree.

After three days of similar stuff we flew from the tiny Hoedspruit Airport to the somewhat larger OR Tambo in Johannesburg. As I still had one more afternoon off work we headed for the Temba township an hour or so away up the N1 to squeeze in a match.

Most of the fixtures in the third tier ABC Motsephe League had been completed by this time of year but the North West Region had a backlog and they had used the public holiday to round off their season.

We actually been to the Temba Stadium a couple of weeks earlier, but it had been a wasted journey with the game having been called off at short notice. This time though we parked the car as the players were warming up on the pitch and the main stand was beginning to fill up.

Main Stand

Main Stand

I had a chat with a bloke who assumed that we were there in some sort of official capacity. When I revealed that we were just there to watch the game he commented  “You must really like football then.” Fair assumption, I thought, considering that it was a meaningless end of season game in the lower leagues.

We took up a position on the back row of the bench seats and watched the fans come in. Most had a few cans of Castle, others a couple of large bottles of Hansa. It’s a public holiday. Football, beer and a seat in the sun. I doesn’t get much better than that. Unless there were leopards as well, that is. Or arriving on a train with a bath.

Refreshments.

Refreshments.

The clock ticked around to three and the players continued to warm up. I wasn’t unduly concerned as games often start a little late, but with a desire to be out of town before dark I didn’t want too much of a delay. By three-thirty the warm-ups had gotten somewhat ragged with some of the players putting more effort into slapping each other than focusing on the drills.

Three forty five came and went, as did four o’clock. The problem, it transpired, was that there were no match officials. Did that matter I thought? Would it really be an issue if one of the staff reffed the game? At quarter past four the ref and his linesman pulled up in an old Corolla. They were partially changed and completed the process next to their car.

Eventually.

Eventually.

The crowd showed an impressive amount of patience as the linesman arsed around with their sock-ties. I doubt it would have been the same in England if Clattenburg had turned up a couple of hours late and then fannied around bosticking his wig to his head.

Eventually, everyone was on the pitch and ready. Or almost ready. One of the nets wasn’t quite properly fixed and so kick-off was delayed for another couple of minutes whilst the necessary repairs were made.

Sunday League memories.

Sunday League memories.

The game eventually started at twenty five to five, a quarter of an hour or so before the time that it should have been finished.

View from the main stand.

View from the main stand.

I don’t usually include a lot of match detail in these posts, mainly because nobody cares, even me. After all, it’s not the Boro. This time though the lack of information is because we only saw the first ten minutes of action. Temba isn’t really a place to be after dark, especially when everyone has been drinking all day, and so we cleared off at the time I’d originally intended.

Some football.

Some football.

Our plan for a daylight getaway was almost thwarted as someone had blocked our car in. Or at least they almost had. With some very careful manoeuvering I was able to reverse it through a gap with no more than a centimetre to spare on either side. Jen said it was the most impressive thing I’d done in the five years we’ve been together. I think that’s probably a compliment.

 

 

Maritzburg City v Amajuba United, Saturday 21st February 2015, 3pm

March 18, 2015

1-P1210207

A couple of months before Christmas Jen started running. Not in a Forrest Gump way that would have resulted in her being a few hundred miles away by now, but laps around the block. She’s stuck at it and as she can now run for ages without stopping, the next stage was try it out in an actual 10k race.

She picked one in Pietermaritzburg and so that’s where we went at the weekend. It was a big success. I watched the race from MacDonalds and in the time it took me to eat two breakfasts, Jen was finishing her run just outside of the prize money.

Pietermaritzburg 10k

Pietermaritzburg 10k

After the race we went for a hike at Albert Falls Dam. It was a choice made primarily because they have a camping ground where we were able to sneak into the showers, but it turned out to be a decent walk too. The animals were a bit more wary than they are at some places and we didn’t get too close to the wildebeest or zebra, but we got good views of a couple of fish eagles.

The smaller stuff was easier to look at. There were a few giant snails and plenty of grasshoppers. I’ve included a photo of a pair of grasshoppers mating, mainly so that I can tag it with ‘grasshopper porn’ and see what traffic it drives to the blog.

Grasshopper porn

Grasshopper porn

We saw some frogs too and one of them very kindly sat still whilst I stuck the camera about two inches from its face. I’m sure there’s some special macro setting or something for that sort of shot but, as with most things in life, I tend not to bother learning how do something properly and rely instead on just hoping for the best. I’ve found over the years that it’s a lot less effort and there’s usually minimal difference in the outcome.

A frog.

A frog.

Of course, as soon as I knew we were going to Pietermaritzburg for the weekend I put the effort in to look at the sporting options. They have a Premier League team, Maritzburg United, but they were playing away. There’s a team that plays in the third tier ABC Motsephe League though, Maritzburg City, and conveniently they were at home on the Saturday.

City play just outside of Pietermaritzburg at the Wadley Stadium in the Georgetown township. I wonder when the term ‘township‘ will be replaced by just ‘town‘? It sounds so much better, a bit like the way that streets in every new housing development in England are called things like Badger Glade or Honeysuckle Meadow even if they are sandwiched between the sewage works and an industrial estate.

Unusually for a lower league ground, Wadley Stadium appeared on the satnav and benefited from decent signposting. The twenty minute drive from the city centre took us through some fairly poor areas, although people seemed quite happy to let their goats and cows graze unattended by the side of the road or in the central reservation.

I presume that the fear of retribution from the local Mr Big was sufficient to deter people from flinging the odd ruminant into the back of their pick-up and speeding off.

View from the main stand.

View from the main stand.

Wadley Stadium was just what I look for in a ground. For a start, it was where it was supposed to be. It also had brick terracing to a couple of sides and a decent backdrop, this time houses up in the hills.

The game had just kicked off when we got there and there were already three or four hundred people watching, mainly from the top couple of terracing steps down the side of the pitch and with some smaller groups behind the goal to our left. There was also some tiered seating opposite for those people who didn’t want the background of the hills.

Fans behind the goal.

Fans behind the goal.

Maritzburg City were in blue, with their opponents in yellow and it was Amajuba who applied the early pressure. It didn’t count for much though as ten minutes in a ball over the top was stroked home by a City striker to put the home side a goal up.

The Amajuba keeper didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. It wasn’t so much his shot stopping, as he didn’t have too many shots to stop, it was more his general unorthodoxy. For example, when receiving backpasses he would flick the ball up into the air and then welly it downfield on the volley.

He might be ahead of his time but I tend to think that if his favoured method of distribution was any good then we’d see the professional keepers doing it on the telly every week.

View to the right.

View to the right.

Half an hour in it started to rain and so we got back in the car and took advantage of the parking area behind one of the goals. It reminded me of the days when those disability cars would park pitchside. In particular, I thought back to the play-off second leg at Stamford Bridge in ’88. I’m sure there were cars on the semi-circle of grass behind the goal at the Shed end. Can you imagine that these days? Although it would be a handy place for Jose to park the bus when he didn’t need it on the pitch.

We got to half-time without any further goals and in torrential rain Maritzburg ran for the dressing room whilst Amajuba had to make do with a minibus to our right.

The main stand.

The main stand.

When the second half resumed the subs for both sides remained exactly where they were, leaving a couple of lines of empty chairs at the side of the pitch. The ball boys had no desire to be outside in that weather either and so the fourth official was forced to do a lap of the pitch every now and again to do their jobs for them.

With a quarter of an hour to go Amajuba managed to squeeze the ball in at the City keeper’s near post prompting a mass celebration of Klinsmann dives. It was certainly appropriate in the conditions but it’s not something you’d expect to see too often on an artificial pitch.

As the game drew to a close the puddles on the pitch grew larger. There’s no way that the match would have started with the surface in that state but if the ref had called it off at that stage he probably have been strung up by the players.

After an hour of rain.

After an hour of rain.

Bang on ninety minutes Maritzburg got the winner, prompting an even bigger celebration than we’d seen earlier. This one involved fellas with umbrellas charging onto the pitch and a blast of car horns from what was now a full car park behind the goal.

At that point the rain eased up, allowing the ref to add a few minutes of injury time that would have been unthinkable in the earlier conditions. We even got the subs and ball-boys making a sheepish re-appearance.