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World Cup: Sitting with the fans on which the sun never sets

Tim Sturtridge

Genuine buzz merchants 300x225 World Cup: Sitting with the fans on which the sun never setsThey say you should never come face-to-face with your heroes so nevermind missing out on Mick Jagger’s post-mortem of England’s defeat in Bloemfontein. There was a few chaps on the bus back to Durban however who can’t be far off a knighthood or even the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

After six hours sound kip on the bus station floor it was away from the site England’s heavy defeat and back on the road towards the Moses Mabhida. Since drifting off the transport depot had cleared of both triumphant and brow beaten Europeans and had been returned into the hands of the locals.

One of the few remnants of the tournament which was still floating around was a group of Japanese fans who were ahead of me in the queue to check-in for SA Roadlink’s morning flyer to Durban.

The Tokyo massive also had tickets to Holland against Slovakia so I made a loose arrangement to share a cab with them when our bus docked later that day. Squeezed up against the window as the African countryside rolled past I forgot all about the deal with Japanese, especially after the four o’clock kick-off time came and went while we were still stuck on the motorway.

Sure enough I had a tap on the shoulder while I was badgering some bloke to retrieve my bag at Durban bus station and turned around to find the Keisuke Honda fan club eager to head off to Moses Mabhida to catch the second half.

I had previously thought about sacking off the last 16 clash and was now gruelling about having already missed the first half. I told the lads about a text telling me Arjen Robben had already bagged and asked what they thought about missing the lion’s share of the game.

Turns out the Japanese weren’t too fussed at all and their attitude once again reminded me what a privilege it is to be here in South Africa for the World Cup finals. My companions had also been at England against Germany the day before and were now buzzing about catching their slice of the Dutch taking on Slovakia.

Whereas I was hoping the game in Durban would go to extra-time so I could get something nearing value for my ticket again the Japanese were not too fussed. They would have to leave the ground before the 90 minutes was up no matter if an extra thirty minutes beckoned.

The trio’s plan was to head off just before the conclusion of the second half in order to catch their 8 p.m. flight to Johannesburg. They had tickets to Brazil versus Chile and even though they had already written off the first half they were confident of hitting Ellis Park for their second second half of the day.

As if attending three games in two days was not enough the whole crew would be heading off to Pretoria the next morning to take in their country’s game with Paraguay.

The excitement being emitted by these three Japanese fans was a timely reminder of what the World Cup is really all about. Every four years the world has the opportunity to congregate and witness the best players in one place for a single short month. My heart was warmed by my new friends from the Far East grabbing their chance with both hands.

I had drifted off in Bloemfontein listening to the grumbles of the same England fans who had happily over hyped their team to the hilt before watching them crash out. The next morning had delivered me back into the hands of fans who understood what the competition is all about.

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