Posts Tagged ‘Moses Mabhida’

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

September 8, 2015

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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.

 

Durban Sharks v Western Force, Saturday 28th March 2015, 5.05pm

May 10, 2015

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We’d had completely different plans for this Durban weekend. The South African FA had announced a friendly against Argentina and we’d intended to travel on the overnight posh train. As you might have come to expect it didn’t turn out quite as we’d hoped.

Firstly the Premier Classe train service between Johannesburg and Durban was discontinued and then, after I’d booked flight tickets instead, the South African FA revealed that they’d decided not to bother with the Argentina game after all. Instead, they would play Nigeria. So, no Messi, although he would probably have played little more than a cameo in a friendly anyway. On the plus side, Nigeria meant Ken Omerou and he’s near enough a Boro player.

It wasn’t to be though as the South African FA then decided to switch the venue for the game from Durban to Nelspruit. Nelspruit! It’s nearly seven hundred kilometres away from Durban. I can understand that there might have been problems, probably financial, in getting the Argies over, although I’d have preferred that they addressed them before announcing the fixture, but moving the game against the replacement opponents seven hundred kilometres didn’t seem to have much to justify it.

Fortunately there was other stuff going on in Durban and we revised our Saturday plans to include a morning walk at the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve followed by the Super Rugby game between the Sharks and Western Force.

We didn’t see much on the ten kilometre hike. A few zebras and plenty of bugs but the monkeys that we’d watched on our last visit were nowhere around.

I don't recall seeing anything like this on my Dad's cabbages.

I don’t recall seeing anything like this on my Dad’s cabbages.

A twenty-minute walk along the seafront took us to the Kings Park stadium. We arrived ten minutes or so before kick-off and it was still fairly busy outside.

Kings Park Stadium

Kings Park Stadium

We had seats in the Western Stand, which looked quite a lot older than the much taller and steeper Eastern Stand opposite. Getting a drink was easy enough, with two bars servicing the upper section. It was good to see that the Sharks management understand that when you go to the rugby you have a drink. We’ve got a few fellas at work who follow the Bulls, despite their policy of making you drink in a field outside of the ground. Madness.

View from the Western Stand.

View from the Western Stand.

A couple of minutes into the game a pigeon sitting up in the roof crapped on Jen. It missed her head but left a Wagon Wheel size deposit on her jeans. Fortunately the crowd probably wasn’t more than seven or eight thousand and we were able to move to seats that didn’t have pigeons loitering above.

Half-time.

Half-time.

The game itself was fairly poor with both sides making frequent handling and kicking errors. If I was a supporter of either side I imagine I’d have been pretty frustrated with the performance. As it is, I don’t give a toss who wins these games and am there purely for that odd moment of skill that makes it all worthwhile.

Moses Mahiba to the right.

Moses Mabhida to the right.

I suppose the best bit of the action was a Shark’s try from Lwazi Mvovo. As the home side ran out 15-9 winners I couldn’t help but glance over to the nearby Moses Mabhida stadium. It’s where I should have been watching Messi.