World Cup: Changing of the seasons and the tides of the sea

Tim Sturtridge

Serbia in the house 300x225 World Cup: Changing of the seasons and the tides of the seaIt turns out that Harlech Tower in South Acton is not the only Nelson Mandela House. Down in Soweto yesterday I passed by the old digs of South Africa’s former president on my way to Sakhumzi’s Bar.

Just next door to the bar is the house that The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu used to call home and up on the corner of the street is the spot where Hector Pieterson was shot dead on 16th July 1976.

The latest mob to move into Vilakazi Street is the BBC, broadcasting live from Sakhumzi’s Bar morning, noon and night throughout the tournament.

Last night the World Service invited locals and fans from around the globe to have their say on the upcoming World Cup. Impassioned speeches from South Africans arguing the pros and cons of hosting the tournament were sporadically interrupted by distress over Karim Benzema’s exclusion from the French squad or some such gripe.

With about two hundred fans crowding the bar and spilling out onto the street there was  bound to be a few Manchester Untied fans in there somewhere. David Herman, chief of the MUFC Supporters Club of America, was the latest president to make his way to Vilakazi Street.

David and his mates have been busy raising a five grand donation for young footballers in Khayelitsha before making their way over. The Boots for Aba’fana scheme will see these Chicago Reds dropping off football gear to a whole bunch of kids over the next month.

While warming to these United fans I even managed to suspend my old prejudices enough to enjoy the company of an Argyle supporter. BBC World Service presenter Ros Atkins has been released from Cornwall for the duration of the tournament and, along with the absurdly named Miles Davies from New Zealand, he grilled the patrons of Sakhumzi’s for their views of the cup.

Taking a break from the chat I made the dangerous discovery of a free bar downstairs. Having been firmly hitched onto the wagon during my time in South Africa I took the opportunity to have a decent skinful at the licence payers’ expense.

Gulping away and chewing the ears off a couple of North Korean fans saw four in the morning hove into view. With Minibus Taxis finished for the night and, in spite of the free bar, all my cash frittered away I once again found myself at the mercy of the host nation.

Luckily top lad Mbuso Mwandla was heading home for Sakhumzi’s to Alveda Park, the neighbouring suburb to my own Kibler Park. After weaving through the township to drop off Sibusiso I was safely returned to my pit and Mbuso reunited with his wife and two kids.

Waking up this morning only one thing was clear in my mind, I have massively overcooked the opening day of the 2010 World Cup. Let’s hope that a cacophony of vuvuzelas turn out to be the perfect hangover cure.

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