David Moseley

It was the best of times, it was the best of times

2015-06-12 14:04

David Moseley

Five years ago to the day I fell out of bed with a raging headache, bundled my similarly bleary-eyed pal Carlo into the car and left for the airport with my then girlfriend - now wife - snoring on a couch with cracker crumbs, biltong dust and empty beer cans for company.

It was the age of foolish spending, it was the epoch of belief in Bafana, it was the season of daytime football, it was the season of nighttime football, it was the winter of Waka Waka, we had 64 matches before us. It was the time of Soccer World Cup 2010.

Two years earlier Carlo and I had prepared for the Soccer World Cup by attending some football matches in the UK, one of which was the celebrated Glasgow derby between Rangers and Celtic. We rang up Celtic and told them we were two soccer journalists on tour ahead of the 2010 showpiece event in South Africa.

The good people of Celtic were only to happy to oblige two “Africans” and duly plonked us on the halfway line, about three rows from the front, in what eventually turned out to be a rip-roaring game of three red cards, six goals, numerous dust ups between players and a Celtic old boy scoring for Rangers in an eventual 4-2 win for the blue half of Glasgow.

Other attractions included the Celtic fans singing a spine-tingling acapella version of You’ll Never Walk Alone before kick-off which abruptly segued into a classic taunt of the Rangers fans for their team failing to qualify for the Champions League.

As the whistle blew to signal the start of the game, the green side of Celtic Park whipped out sombreros, passports and inflatable palm trees – signifying Celtic’s upcoming first Champions League fixture in Portugal. The Rangers supporters were suitably incensed.

Back to 2010

When 2010 rolled around Carlo and I had just about exhausted the memories of our 2008 Tour of Discovery. The strategy was simple, then – treat the Soccer World Cup like it was our last month on earth. And boy, did we ever.

The headache wasn’t actually from booze, but rather because I’d leapt from a bar stool in my lounge when Siphiwe Tshabalala hammered in that screamer of an opening goal against Mexico. I hit the ceiling, fell off the chair and slammed into the floor with an ecstatic thud.

The next day we were off to Rustenberg for a whistle-stop tour and a dreary England vs USA fixture that included Carlo bribing a gangster for a lift back to our car and Bruce Fordyce walking about 90km sideways back to his – obviously due to the adverse effects of an in-game meal. The parking shambles meant we reached a post-match KFC in the middle of nowhere at about 330am. The African World Cup was in full swing.

Back to Cape Town and there was Robyn, still snoozing serenely in the spot where we had left; the only telltale sign of life a Nando’s box lying at the foot of the couch that wasn’t there when we left.

Matches in miserable Cape Town followed and so did a road trip to Bloemfontein of all places. Road works, a night in Graaff-Reinet and snowed-in roads thanks to the infamous cold snap of that year almost cost us our prime seats for a clash of titans; Slovakia versus Paraguay. What a time to be alive.

It all culminated in Robyn ruing that she hadn’t bought tickets during the mad lottery scramble of the early sales rush. Not one to let my love done, I promptly jumped online to purchase semi-final tickets just hours before the big match. Fuelled by draught beers and a desire for Robyn to “feel it, because it is here”, I dropped just enough ZAR to buy a small holiday cottage on the coast – or World Cup semi-final tickets.

It was, in a way, like everyone was living the “let’s enjoy it now while we can, because we don’t know what tomorrow might bring” dream.

Maybe there is something about sport bringing the people together. Maybe there isn’t. Living in the thick of the World Cup in the Cape Town CDB I can only go on my own experience; it was a great time to be South African. It was fun. It was happy. The world was full of promise. If only we’d bottled it; instead, we bottled it.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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