You all know the result, you all saw that “goal”. But what was it like to be at the match? The drive to the game set the atmosphere. At every toll booth on the motorway, the car windows in the queue opened and English and German flags were waved. Horns were blaring, South Africans had adopted a team for the day and were standing through sun roofs in their Bafana Bafana shirts and English or German face paint.
Later as we walked towards the security cordon and the crowds gathered, a van load of German fans drove past with a megaphone, apologising to all English fans for the result that was about to happen. As we queued to be searched a World War Two armoured car drove past, complete with uniformed soldiers singing “Deutschland Deutschland“. They stopped to shake hands with the Queen who had turned up in a large red and white wig.
Inside the large beer garden the sun was blazing down on a lot of exposed white North European flesh. It was a sea of red and white and it was packed. They had prepared for the arrival of the two biggest drinking groups of supporters by putting up a lot of beer tents. As a South African said to me, only at the World Cup would you get English and Germans together drinking Budweiser – as a sponsor it was the only beer on offer.
We went to get a match programme and finally tracked one down, buying vuvuzelas while we were there. Am I the only person in South Africa who cannot get a sound from one? Back in the beer garden, things were livening up. The good news was that Nelson Mandela had arrived and was draped in a cross of St. George and waving a large sponge “England” hand. Bad news was that Germany had Shrek on their side, as well as Mr. Incredible. I think they would be more useful in a penalty shoot-out.
There was lots of singing and chanting. Lots of flag-waving and inflatable’s being waved round – spitfires, donkeys and balls. Lots of banter.
We took our seats in a stadium bedecked with flags. The teams were warming up and as we were only 7 rows back they were large and real.
The National Anthems were sung, both ringing around the stadium – it must have been amazing to have been a player on that pitch.
At kick-off we didn’t her the whistle because of vuvuzela, cheering and chanting. The noise washed around the stadium depending on who was attacking and where the fans were concentrated. About two minutes after the disallowed goal mobile phones were being waved at the linesman with pictures of the replay on them. (No replays in the stadium).
At half time everybody had seen what had happened and everybody expected a full-blooded second half. By the end the German singing was deafening. Everybody moved to the bars nearby, all the fans mingling and chatting. The atmosphere was great, with choruses of “We’re going home” and “Always look on..” ringing around. Everybody was discussing the “goal” although nobody disputed the result – the best team won.