Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The USA Match

Today was the big day. On every trip, there is one day you circle on your calender. One day where you know its going to be absolutely EPIC. The USA England Match lived up to expectations.

Since the game was at 8:30 PM South African Standard Time (phrasing might be off), we had the day to get ready and hang out. We left about 1PM for the approximately 2 hour trip to Rustenberg. Some time was built in for shopping and we had "Chicken Lickin'" for the first time. Chicken Lickin' is KFC except with little chicken sliders. The food is all fried and its almost impossible to order without having some chicken. There's ice cream but it may be laced with something fried. I didn't try it so I can't speak to it.

Rustenberg is out in the sticks. It's not a parking lot stadium similar to many of the Stadiums in the US. We essentially got dropped off on a street of fanfare similar to Yawkey way in Boston or that street with the Bowling alley and Stan's in the Bronx. The place was poppin' and we were essentially surrounded by a sea of English flags for the majority of the time. There were many groups of rowdy US fans as well. Tell the kids this little chant --- "Joberg, Cape Town, Rustenberg, and Durban, if it weren't for USA you'd be speaking German." I love that chant.

Security update for Dr. Walker. It was real easy to get in. It didn't take us long because there were less fans at this game (stadium holding about 44,000, whereas Soccer City holds almost 90,000). Backpacks weren't checked to harshly and I'm 100% sure I saw a gentleman with a beer funnel enter the gate next to me with not even a question being asked. But regaurdless Bill Clinton was there so I felt as though we were pretty safe.

Now at the first game, I stated the venue ran out of food in areas. In Rustenberg, they ran out of beer before half time. They didn't get the message that "The British were coming." And they came. They came and bought no fewer than 5 beers a pop. This came with many complaints that the price of 30 rand was to high compared to their home premier leagues. So you can see the difference between their sport culture and our own where a beer is about 9 bucks at Yankee Stadium.

As for the game, the atmosphere was pretty electric. We went in about 2 hours early and clearly missed the opportunity to hang our flags. There was a circle of English flags around the stadium that appeared to be unbroken. Fitzpatricks senior and junior were sitting in the front row. So they decided that their seats entitled them to put their flag whereever they wanted. I mean hell we bailed these in greats out of two world wars and ran train on them in the revolution and the war of 1812. The bloak (spelling?) that hung his flag in front of US didn't see it that way. Dave and Shawn stood strong but eventually comprimised with the gentleman with the help of our UN ambassador, Curt Hamakawa.

With the approach of the game nearing (stadium beer supply at about 30%), we began to realize that we were on the English side of the stadium. The US had a modest showing on another side of the English dominated Venue and we had a great view of it directly across of US. Curt took about a thousand pictures and the game was ready to start. I had no idea great britains national anthem was similar to a song we sing as kids in the US. Dr. Covell belted the national anthem and the game was under way.

The brits scored early. They scored devestatingly early. I lost all confidence in the team and the Brits were juiced. I still managed to tell Wayne Rooney that he sucks in every possible way. 1-0 England kept being belted over the PA every 10 minutes because the scoreboard and video board didn't work. I decided to get some refreshments which took forever and I managed to miss the US goal. Shaker warned me against making a run down to the concessions during the game after missing a goal in the first game.

1-1 USA sounded great to me over the PA. I was hoping it wouldn't end in a draw but at a point I realized it was the best result for me team. Still really trying to understand that tie concept. Anyways the game ended in a draw and it was like a funeral home. The brits scored early and thought they would score often. They had tied the US, their prodigal son and savior, in something they pride themselves immensely. I tried to give out some post game hand shakes but nobody was feelin' it.

It was a hell of a night and we all had a blast. More tommorow...

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