Posts Tagged ‘platinum stars’

Platinum Stars v Township Rollers, Saturday 11th July 2015, 10am

September 5, 2015

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It’s difficult to know sometimes when one season ends and the next one starts. The promotion play-offs from the third tier hadn’t taken place yet so it felt as if it’s still 2014/15. However, with the new South African Premier League season just four weeks away, the Maize Cup certainly had the feel of pre-season about it.

It was a four-team tournament taking place at Moruleng which, by happy coincidence, is very close to Pilanesburg National Park. I’m not one to miss the opportunity of combining a visit to a new stadium with a drive around a national park and so we spent the afternoon in Pilanesburg looking at the wildlife.

Sometimes you see a lot, sometimes you don’t and this had been a fairly quiet day up until late on when half a dozen rhinos ambled past. Rhinos do a lot of ambling, but more often than not they do it out of sight. Or at least out of my sight. On this occasion though we were able to watch them make their way along the edge of a lake, no more than fifty yards ahead of us.

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Prior to the rhinos, I think the most interesting thing we’d seen were some cormorants feeding their young. Or not so young. It seemed scarcely believable that the ‘chicks’ weren’t ready to feed themselves.

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Earlier that day our forty rand tickets had entitled us to watch three games in the same stadium. Two semi finals at 10am and noon respectively, followed by the winners of those games meeting at five o’clock. With Pilanesburg beckoning, we were happy to stay for just the first of those matches, the clash between local Premier League side Platinum Stars and Township Rollers from over the border in Botswana.

Forty rand is generally the minimum pricing for a top-tier game in South Africa and so for those with the staying power the chance to see three games was pretty good value. As a further incentive we were also given a Maize Cup branded beanie and a bag of popcorn each. This almost made up for having our bottles of coke and water confiscated on the way in.

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Moruleng Stadium is very similar to a lot of stadiums in this part of the world, with a single covered stand along one side and an open bowl around the remainder. There’s space for a running track, but it looked as if someone had forgotten to construct it.

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We took up seats in the main stand to take advantage of the shade provided but the arrival of a brass band early in the first half meant that we didn’t spend long in them.

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Rollers, in blue, took the lead after around twenty minutes and then added a second just before the break. They had brought a few hundred fans with them and in the second half we moved to the other side of the stadium on the basis that the fans would be quieter than the band.

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Ten minutes from time Platinum Stars knocked in what I thought at the time was nothing more than a consolation goal. Five minutes later they had another and had forced a draw that had rarely seemed on the cards. The tournament schedule left no room for extra-time and so we went straight to penalties.

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The momentum was with the home side and they won the shoot-out five-four, leaving the Rollers fans to drift out seven hours earlier than they’d been expecting to leave just a few minutes before. A chorus of “Bye Bye Baby” from the home support wouldn’t have gone amiss.

That evening we watched the final on the telly in our nearby hotel bar. I imagine that the Rollers fans will all have been back in Botswana by that time with the complimentary popcorn long gone.

Platinum Stars v Mamelodi Sundowns, Sunday 22nd March 2015, 3pm

April 23, 2015

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This weekend started with the second of Jen’s races. It was a half-marathon this time at Hartbeespoort and with a 6.20am start we spent the night before in a hotel near to the start line.

The early morning melee seemed a bit chaotic to me with 50k, 10k and 5k races all taking place in addition to the half marathon. To make matters worse, lots of runners arrived late and were forced to fight their way through the people lining up for the next race just to make the start line. I know that there will be people who have put a lot of time and effort into organising the event but it seemed to me that the best solution would be to have four separate events spread over the year. People could even run all four races that way.

Anyway, once the half marathon was underway I retired to MacDonalds to read the paper before returning to the finish to see Jen record a personal best time.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

Once the race was over we headed off to Pilanesberg National Park. The highlight of the first day was watching a couple of jackals feeding on a bird at one of the lakes. They didn’t want to share, meaning that the dominant one spent as much time chasing away the other one as it did eating his dinner.

The second jackal had just started eating when a group of elephants drinking nearby decided that they’d rather the jackal wasn’t there and by advancing in a tightly packed group, chased it away. The jackal wasn’t prepared to leave the bird though and backed away to the required distance pulling the carcass with it.

Jackal and its dinner.

Jackal and its dinner.

Next morning at the same lake we spent some time watching baboons climbing a tree and then jumping into the water. Some were happy to be doing it just for the fun of the splash whilst some were trying to push others into the water. There would be the odd chase or fight but it was mostly just leaping into the lake for the fun of it. I half expected one of them to shout “Geronimo“ on the way in.

"Geronimo"

“Geronimo”

On the way back home from Pilanesberg we called in at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium for the Nedbank Cup last sixteen game between Platinum Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns. It’s a ground that I’d been to before, for a game between New Zealand and Slovakia in the 2010 World Cup, but oddly I didn’t realise this until afterwards.

In fact, I spent the game wondering why the ground I was in hadn’t been used for the World Cup when it looked so similar to the nearby stadium with the almost identical name that I falsely recalled from five years ago. In my defence we did approach it from a different direction and sat in other areas of the stands, but even so. Maybe it’s old age.

On the way in.

On the way in.

We parked on a field a couple of hundred yards away which was filling up with Sundowns fans. There wasn’t much in the way of security and with our weekend bags visible in the back of the car I wasn’t all that confident that they would still be there when we got back.

We were thoroughly searched on the way in and ended up two bottles of coke and a chocolate bar down. What’s the point of taking a chocolate bar from someone? Would they do it to a small child?

Hat of the Day

Hat of the Day

There were still ten minutes to kick-off when we took our seats in the middle tier of the main stand. At that stage there were probably more fans outside than there were in the stadium. Nobody, except us, ever seems in a hurry to get into games over here and there were still people turning up well into the second half. We saw a group of kids who had been in the parking field when we arrived finally reach their seats twenty minutes in. Perhaps they’d been arguing over having their chocolate confiscated.

View from the main stand

View from the main stand

The Sundowns fans were congregated opposite us and made up the majority of the three or four thousand crowd. They made plenty of noise though, keeping up the singing all game.

The Platinum Stars support was harder to spot. They had a few fans up near us, but there were as many Chiefs and Pirates shirts as their own. It was only on the twenty five minute mark when their brass band turned up that the home fans started to get behind their team.

The Boys in the Band

The Boys in the Band

We changed seats for the second half, braving the risk of rain to sit further round in the open section. When the rain eventually arrived we nipped downstairs and took up seats in the back row of the lower tier, under the overhang. That’s one of the advantages of small crowds.

The main stand

The main stand

And the game? Well, Sundowns looked the better side. They always do look the better side in those Brazil strips. They took the lead on the half hour before Stars levelled  close to half-time. With the prospect of extra time looming, Sundowns settled matters with two goals in the last few minutes.

Chiefs and Pirates both went out of the competition the previous day and Sundowns will no doubt fancy their chances of picking up the cup.