Township Pub Crawl and a World Cup Semi Final

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Germany 0 v 1 Spain (07.07.2010) (World Cup Semi Final)

Germany v Spain, World Cup Semi Final; the hottest ticket in town…and there were plenty of them around! Mark was in the market for a ticket, and as we sat outside one particular bar on the Golden Mile on the afternoon before the match, we were offered tickets on at least four separate occasions without really trying to look for them. Ok, they came at a price but they were readily available.

As the World Cup progresses, the three games a day turn into two, and then as you approach the semis and the final you get ‘rest days’ where there is no football to fall back on.

As such there can’t be many places in the world where prior to a World Cup Semi Final you can fill those rest days by going on a safari, abseil off a mountain top, and go on a bar crawl through local townships! Fortunately South Africa ticked all of those boxes and more. With England out of the tournament earlier than we had hoped, we had a little more time on our hands than previously anticipated.

Although deviating away from football and the big game slightly, I just want to do my ‘trip advisor’ bit and tell you about a couple of worthwhile trips you can do if you ever visit Durban.

Safari:

No trip to Africa is complete without going on safari surely?! A 2 hour drive north-eastward’s from Durban on the N2 highway and you can stop off at a town called ‘Mtubtuba’. Close by is the Umfolozi Game Reserve (where you can try and spot the Big 5); and the St Lucia Estuary where you can go on a river safari (where crocodile and hippo sightings are pretty much guaranteed). We stayed at ‘Wendy’s Game Lodge’ in a gated community on the outskirts of Mtubtuba. The safaris were incredible and the chance to see animals I’ve only ever seen in a zoo in the wild was quite something. Photo’s below:

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Township Tour:

In Umhlanga Rocks (a small town close to Durban) there is a pub called ‘The George’. From here you can book onto a brewery tour of the local townships. The tour basically involves a group of you in a minibus touring round different townships and visiting loads of local bars or ‘shebeens’ as they are known. This is a ‘pub crawl’ with a difference, and one that would usually probably be off limits for ‘tourists’ like us.

Although feeling anxious in the beginning about how we were going to be received as we walked into random shebeens, the feeling soon wears off as the beers start flowing!

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The Shebeen Queen…

On the whole, the tour is an amazing ‘eye-opening’ experience – the places we visited were rooted in deep poverty and in a twisted kind of way it was humbling to be able to see it firsthand. There was definitely an element of awkwardness being a western tourist and showing up in areas of such poverty whilst having a good old drink up. But this was a chance to experience something that your average Joe wouldn’t and we soldiered on.

SA43The shebeens we visited were basically empty concrete rooms, with a bar located at one end. The bar was always covered with a metal grill and you pass your money through a hole in return for a drink. Beers such as Castle and Hansa were served in 750ml bottles and were little more than 60p a go. Bar furniture was in the form of upturned beer crates, and if you were lucky the brewery had provided the locals with a TV or a pool table to entice them in. One of the common sights in these shebeens was guys sharing a bottle of vodka and drinking it neat from tea cups.

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Spot the cheeky bottle of vodka amongst the 1 litre beer bottles?!….

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Outisde the ‘Nomivi Tavern’ with some of the locals…..

Beer is big business in Africa, and a brewery like ‘Castle’ makes a large percentage of its profits by keeping the townships stocked up with beer. If throwing a satellite TV into the deal gets more people buying their drinks it’s a small price for them to pay.

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The ‘Castle’ sponsored bars in one of the ‘Shebeens’….

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By contrast….the villages / shanty towns around the ‘shebeens’….

On our final stop off the area around the shebeen was like a shanty town, yet inside there was a ‘castle’ sponsored section to the bar with plasma tv’s and half decent furniture that looked completely  out of place with the rest of the surroundings. It didn’t seem right. Our arrival at this particular stop off drew some local interest and people came down from the shanty town to speak to us. It was a good opportunity for us to give out some football souvenirs to the young people (England shirts, scarves, mini footballs etc). One lad in particular that was wearing oversized yellow glasses and overjoyed with his new England scarf openly warned us not to venture to far away from the bar area as our safety would be in jeopardy. Grateful for the advice we stayed in the bar!

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Deep in conversation and beers flowing nicely!….

Despite getting properly battered on this trip, it was a humbling experience, and the people we met seemed open, friendly and pleased to see us despite having very little themselves. The beer was ridiculously cheap, and the least we could do was buy the locals a few rounds of drinks. That was probably one of the main reasons we were so well received, and it was probably the last thing they really needed to be honest but they seemed happy enough!

Match day:

Durban’s Golden Mile beckoned us once again and we spent the afternoon enjoying a few beach front beers. I’d managed to pick up a ticket for the game via a fellow England fan that had a spare. Still expensive at face value, I think I paid £125, but this game fell into ‘the biggest match I would see live’ category and seemed worth the financial outlay! Mark had to pay nearer a double ton for a ticket but at least we were both sorted.

The semi final had a massive billing and rightly so. European Champions Spain – who were playing some of the best international football ever seen; against Germany, who had destroyed both England and Argentina en route to the semis with some blistering attacking football of their own.

There was to be some talent on show in this game and then some. The opportunity to see Spain’s attacking quintet of Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Villa, Busquets combined with Germany’s Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Podolski and Klose was a mouth watering prospect.

With the momentum built by Germany as the tournament had progressed, many people thought it was Germany’s time, and the game was set to be a cracker.

On our way to the stadium we bumped into another Spanish legend – Manolo El Del Bombo – that famous Spanish fan that bangs the big drum and wears a beret! He even has his own Wikipedia page – which informs me that he has missed only one international match since 1982 and that was in this World Cup where he caught a cold! I thought he’d have a better excuse than that!

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Inside the ground, you could measure the scale of the match by the sound of the Vuvuzelas. It had been loud at Holland v Slovakia in the 2nd round, but this was at a whole new level!

Youtube clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4mzfqViDcE&feature=youtu.be

The game was a tight tactical encounter. Spain enjoyed most of the possession which was expected, and the Germans played a much more cautious game which wasn’t. Their tactical priority seemed not to concede space and try and hit Spain on the counter attack. Spain did what Spain do best and maintained possession of the ball brilliantly in search of an opening. Spain always show great patience even when they face difficult opponents to break down. They believe in their philosophy and do not deviate away from it.

Whilst Spain are easy on the eye when they are in possession, what sometimes goes unnoticed is the work rate the team puts in collectively when they don’t have the ball. This game was a prime example. They pressed high and fast in an organised fashion and Germany rarely had time to settle on the ball. This collective pressing of the ball often lead to Germany conceding possession.

In a game of few clear cut chances, the deadlock was broken on 73’ when Puyol rose superbly to head home from a Xavi corner. It was to be the decisive moment in the game and 1-0 was enough to see Spain into their first ever World Cup Final.

Att: 60,960

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