Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal

Take me home country road

Spain 1-0 Portugal (29:06:10)

This is the last of 'Bafana' Tim's World Cup Journals for EFW. I hope you've enjoyed reading them as much as we've enjoyed bringing them to you. Like the actual England team but with much more of a reason - Tim is worn out. He did manage to scribe this fine effort before heading back to Blighty though:

Greetings all,

After yet another 16 hour bus journey I saw Spain in Cape Town last night in what will, flights permitting, be my tenth and final match of the World Cup.

The Greyhound bus was pretty typical of my World Cup travel experience. The bus was due at 9pm. They failed to send me the promised text message to say it was delayed, so I turned up to be told it was running two hours behind. It turned up later than that and arrived in Cape Town four hours late. On the plus side, the delays meant I got to watch Brazil-Chile on TV and saw the beautiful winelands region in daylight.

That area almost summed up South Africa. There were snowy, mountain peaks and attractive vineyards - and then corrugated township shacks. It was the same on the Garden Route - grinding poverty in the midst of stunning scenery. As with India or Brazil, there is the most striking disparity of wealth and unless you are happy living in a bubble, it is difficult to ignore.

I have been in something of a sulk about England's World Cup dreams being run over by a ten tonne German truck. Cape Town is currently wet and dreary and doing little to lift my mood of despondency.

The Spanish, however, were superb last night and would be my clear favourites to win the tournament if only Fernando Torres was fit and firing. It's hard to escape comparisons. They have centre back Gerard Pique spraying the ball around nonchalantly from the back. We had Matthew Upson hoofing and lumbering about with the turning circle of a tugboat. Spain have Xavi and Iniesta harrying the opposition and playing clever little passes into the front men. We had Gerrard and Lampard steaming forwards to no great effect, leaving huge holes behind them. And they have David Villa cutting in from the wings to devastating effect while we had Rooney looking like a long season had wiped him out.

My predictions are pretty much unchanged from before the tournament started. Brazil and Spain are the two best all-round teams. Argentina are the wild card with an awesome attack but suspect defence. And the Germans and Dutch are both strong enough to go all the way with a bit of luck.

If I could be guaranteed that Messi, Tevez, Di Maria and Higuain would wipe the floor with the Germans, I would be sorely tempted to stay on for Saturday's quarter-final in Cape Town with Brazil's semi also here the following week. I had planned a side-trip to Durban in between for some sun. But it would surprise no-one if German efficiency overcame Argie flair in a repeat of the last World Cup - and I am so over German victory celebrations.

More importantly, Ruth is in London and so I am trying to get a standby flight out of Cape Town tonight. Somewhat shamefully (for male readers), love is triumphing over love of football.

This has been a much more difficult World Cup logistically then the last one in Germany - but much more colourful. The stadia have all been world class and, in the case, of Soccer City and Cape Town's Green Point magnificent. Some of the matchday and public transport has been atrocious and greedy accommodation providers have ripped visitors off with prices inflated three to fourfold. But most South Africans have been very friendly and gone out of their way to help tourists. South Africa is a beautiful but challenging country to visit. I have had a blast but am worn out from too many hours on buses and not enough in a comfy bed.

I expect Brazil in 2014 to be even more of a carnival but with many of the same organisational issues as FIFA couldn't care less about the lot of the ordinary fan. Bring it on. Hope you've enjoyed the blog.

Bafana Tim

Further reading Parts 1-4 HERE Part 5 THERE oh, and part 6 HERE and 7 THERE.

- Feel free to comment below -

Monday, 28 June 2010

Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal

An inept lacklustre catastrophe. Apart from that...

England 1-4 Germany (27:06:10)

EFW missed out on the misery back home as we where were out in Madrid. There we inadvertently found ourselves celebrating with thousands of Argentinians in Puerto del Sol following their win over Mexico. Want to know what it was like to follow your team 5000 miles to get humiliated? Tim Stewart was at the England v Germany debacle:

Greetings all,

The omens were poor once a local radio station unveiled its 'mystic' octopus that wraps its tentacles round balls bearing team names to predict match outcomes. Unfortunately, the all-seeing sea creature plumped for Germany.

I had a great couple of days working my way along stunningly scenic stop-offs on the Garden Route by all modes of transport, including hitching on the back of a truck, before a 12-hour ride on a happy clappy bus arriving in Bloemfontein at 4am on matchday. I was bombarded the whole way by biblical propaganda videos so deafeningly loud that I could still hear them clearly through my earplugs. Bloemfontein is bang in the middle of South Africa and it was quite bizarre sitting at the front of the top deck as we headed deep into the interior of endless farms in the dark with a full moon overhead and tales of God's miracles in my ears.

English and German fans mingled without any trouble that I could see all day with the idiots priced out by the cost of getting to Africa. I was in a guesthouse two minutes from the stadium and the waterfront bars were the same distance, which made a pleasant change from the usual park-and-rides to kick-off.

On to the catastrophe of a match, which promised to be such an exciting belter I even joined in the singing of the National Anthem. There was nothing in it until we conceded a Sunday parks goal from a hoofed Kraut clearance but then we were battered and could have been three down and out. At 2-1 down, even from the upper tier on the halfway line, I could see that Lampard's shot was well over the line - as could most of the 40,000 in attendance. I was showered in beer as the England fans went prematurely nuts.

Had we gone in at 2-2 with our tails up, who knows how the second half might have panned out. As it was, we pressed strongly for an equaliser and Lampard added to his World Cup record near 40 shots without a goal by hitting the bar again. Then, the Germans predictably picked us off with counter-attacks as efficient as a well-oiled BMW.

Sepp Blatter, who was there, should be embarrassed by his continued failure to adopt Wimbledon-style goal-line technology and spare the blushes of myopic officials.

Although their gaffe was a major turning point, the Germans were still technically better and the controversy should not gloss over our defensive deficiencies throughout the match and obvious shortcomings during yet another disappointing tournament. Had we made light work of a very favourable group, we would not have faced another seeded side until the semis. Instead, lacklustre and inept displays made life unnecessarily difficult.

Wayne Rooney's billing as the 'White Pele' looks ever more laughable compared to the likes of Lionel Messi. And if that was our 'Golden Generation' of players who will be too old for the next World Cup and with the Premier League now packed with foreigners, it is hard to see how England can mount a credible challenge at future tournaments. There needs to be a sea change with investment in young English players and the national team's interests prioritised. It won't happen.

I am now returning to Cape Town and have Spain-Portugal and Germany-Argentina to console myself though I'm not sure I can bear another night of German celebrations. Some nice chaps from a German fanzine gave me a free 'Deutschland 2010' T-shirt. Luckily, I lost it, else it might have ended up on my post-match barbecue.

As Gary Lineker once said, football is a simple game played by 22 men with a ball - and then the Germans win.

Bafana Tim

Further reading Parts 1-4 HERE Part 5 THERE oh, and part 6 HERE.

- Feel free to comment below -

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal

Waka, waka, England's time in Africa

England 1-0 Slovenia (23:06:10)

In cigar chewing negotiations a week or so ago, EFW managed to bag the rites to Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal. It's been bigged up in several broadsheets but you can read it here first. What's not to like?:

Greetings all,

I was looking at a 100 trillion dollar banknote from Zimbabwe the other day. On top of all the noughts, they come with an issue and use by date - in this case June 30, 2010. It occurred to me that should we fail to beat Slovenia, I would have around $1,000 of Follow England tickets of not dissimilar value.

Happily, I have not now been saddled by FIFA with Slovenia-Ghana tickets for Rustenburg and will instead be watching a perhaps fated re-match with the Old Enemy in Bloemfontein on Sunday. Should we avoid losing to Germany on pens for once, I am told we have an easy route to the final with potential ties against Argentina, Spain and Brazil.

My trip to Port Elizabeth began in familiar fashion when the overnight Intercape bus broke down and began billowing smoke alarmingly from its rear on a mountain pass an hour into the journey from Cape Town. It took a mechanic an hour to turn up and fiddle around to no effect, then another hour for a replacement bus to show.

After the 15 hour trip, the only accommodation I could find was at a hostel run by a mad woman, who claimed to have freed Nelson Mandela and been in De Klerk's cabinet.

My rather unlikely breakfast companions were a young Brit from Marlborough College public school and a Zambian car salesman. Only the Zambian, who had not eaten for three days, ordered the Full English.

In Cape Town I met an Australian who said he had been waiting all his life to see England. He had been the proud owner of 15 replica England kits, watched the Premiership avidly and phoned his father excitedly from the Algeria game to say he was watching Wayne Rooney live. A couple of days later, he was still stunned at how awful England had been.

Thankfully, they got their act together with a nerve-jangling win against Slovenia - population two million - but failed to score the second goal that would have seen them play Ghana and Uruguay/South Korea for a semi-final berth.

While watching the Germans' inevitable win afterwards, I saw some English fans scuffling with two locals, who had apparently been trying to rob them. Within thirty seconds, there were four police cars at the scene and around a dozen burly officers, who, shall we say, did not treat the suspects with kid gloves. You wouldn't get a response like that in London.

Here's our man Tim watching (well sort of) England away in Skopje, Macedonia.

This'll be him with the UEFA Cup earlier. 29 years earlier. Ipswich Town fan and that you see.

In other news, I went up Table Mountain on foot in jeans and plimsolls. It was pretty much a continuous rock climb for which I was completely inappropriately dressed. Hilariously, I met a Scotsman of feeble physique I know from back home toiling shambolically halfway up. He is probably still there now.

I now plan to see the Garden Route at my leisure before heading to Bloemfontein.

As Shakira might sing 'Waka waka, England's time in Africa'. Or, as England fans chant, 'We're not going home, we're not going home, we're not going, we're not going, we're not going home (repeat - at least until Sunday),

Bafana Tim

Further reading Parts 1-4 HERE and Part 5 THERE

- Feel free to comment below -

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Jacob Steinberg


Regular readers of these pages will know that we unapologetically like to cock an ear to the Football Weekly podcast. Our heroes reside there; James Richardson, Sid Lowe, Glendenning, Ingle, Doyle, Ashdown., Honigstein, Duarte, Ronay, Dart and too many more cool cats to mention. The newest addition to that illustrious list is Jacob Steinberg who has pitched up in near earth orbit for their World Cup Podcast which they're spoiling us with on a daily (daily!) basis.

I normally watch my football live but on the *blink* odd occasion I watch it on the box I've found that I can no longer just sit and stare gormlessly at the screen. The way I watch football is changing; telly on (tick), mobile in hand to check Twitter (tick), laptop at the ready for the minute-by-minute report (tickity, tick tick tick). Steinberg and his pesky mates have made their Twitter feeds and MBM's so bloody good that simply watching the action is not longer good enough. Action yes, interaction better.

As he has been responsible for eating up so so much of my time, I thought I'd turn the tables on Mr Steinberg and see how he likes it. Contacting him for an interview was easy - he's always on Twitter. So, want to read about John Terry's buffoonery, near misses with Damon Albarn and why James Richardson shot him an odd look on his Football Weekly debut? Of course you do:

Hi Jacob, thanks for talking to EFW. How are you enjoying the World Cup?
Hi EFW, good to talk to you. If I had to use one word to describe this World Cup so far, I'd use 'bipolar'. I can't remember a tournament which had this much hype leading into it and with that, it was always going to be difficult to live up to the massive expectations. Ok, watching some of the opening games was like being forced to sit through the entire back catalogue of James Corden's World Cup Live, and we've had complaints about empty seats, diving, the Jabulani and the vuvuzelas. Put all that together and you'd have a strong argument that it's not a great tournament, but even when the games were bad, there were still three of them every day for about ten days. If you can't enjoy that, you can't enjoy anything. Not even James Corden's World Cup Live. Anyway there have already been some memorable moments: Lionel Messi's performances, Diego Maradona threatening to self-combust, France going on strike, the goals by David Villa and Maicon (he didn't mean it), New Zealand stunning Italy, Greece going out... It's been fantastic and it's only the opening round. I've been really impressed by the smaller South American sides. They play a brand of fresh, attacking football that looks painfully modern compared to England's outdated efforts. At times it feels like they're playing a different sport. It will be interesting to see how far they can go - I've tipped Paraguay and Uruguay to reach the last eight at least. And I tipped Paraguay to win their group. I'm pleased with that one.

Are you an England fanatic or can you take a backward step and laugh at the circus that surrounds the team? One of the first ever games I went to was England v Holland at Euro 96 and I cried when they went out to Germany in the semi-finals. I still get a bit of a lump in the throat if I watch the Argentina match from 1998, and when they were struggling to qualify for Euro 2000, I couldn't imagine the tournament without them. Cut to 2007 and I was genuinely delighted they weren't going to Euro 2008. In the last decade the team has become depressingly loathsome and I find it hard to back players who I can't stand or who play for teams I hate. It would be two-faced to boo Frank Lampard when he plays for Chelsea and to cheer him when he plays for England and I'd rather not see Ashley Cole attain any sort of happiness. I don't begrudge anyone who wants to support them but it's not for me. Sometimes I've actively supported the opposition, particularly during the last World Cup because they were so mind-numbingly dreadful. I can't be bothered now and would rather not jump on the bandwagon should a pig fly past my window and England win the World Cup. It's relaxing to watch the football without having to support anyone in particular, it can make you more objective and level-headed about what you see, although I don't think you can ever be truly neutral during any game. I usually support the team playing the best football and let's face it, England don't fall into that category.

So no England car flag on your motor then? Definitely not, although I do have an England mug, which is currently sitting on my desk with a load of pens in it that are emptier than John Terry's rhetoric on Sunday.

I didn't think it would be long before his beak was mentioned. JT, or England's brave and loyal John Terry as he must now be called: Caged tiger and born leader then or a bit of a knob jockey? I think you know the answer to that question. I am enjoying the buffoon's self-inflicted demise immensely. I love that he tried to paint himself as some deep-thinking renegade, only to be exposed as utterly out of his depth when he came up against Capello. What did he actually achieve? He secured one beer. I bet the boys were delighted when he told them the good news. It's like having your union run by Homer Simpson. In fact it reminds me of an episode of Scrubs when the put-upon lawyer, Ted Buckland, tells Dr. Kelso that he's quitting only to be told that he's staying to do "busy work". "Ok, but I'm getting a soda from the vending machine first!" he replied. All that aside, John Terry's nothing more than a playground bully, to referees, team-mates, managers and opposition players. He's got the loudest voice, but that just means he talks the most rubbish. For some reason people have followed him blindly but bullies always expose themselves and eventually they get left on their own. More and more people are turning on him now and it would take too long to list all of the reasons why here but two words should suffice: Wayne Bridge. If I was the England manager, I'd get rid of him after the World Cup. He's not a talented enough footballer to justify the repeated disruptions.

Silly old Fabio eh? Wear red, name the team a bit earlier and we win the World Cup. What was he thinking? When you put it like that it sounds so simple! And what does Fabio Capello know about football anyway? I am amused by the attempt to blame Capello for England's woes. He's a serial winner and our players have a proud record of under-achievement. This is the same group that missed out on Euro 2008 remember. It seems that people will use any old excuse to try and escape what is blindingly obvious: England don't have a very good team and never really have. Individually some of the players might be outstanding but football's a team game. I don't think anyone could argue that Italy had the best set of players at the last World Cup - or, indeed, that Germany ever do. But these teams have a plan. England either never do or they are incapable of carrying it out effectively. We focus too much on individuals rather than the whole, and look to scapegoat and deride players who aren't an instant fit. Capello doesn't have to prove himself to anyone, not that he cares either way.

You've eased yourself seamlessly onto the Football Weekly panel. How are you enjoying that? Well I've listened to the podcast for years so to appear on it is - platitude alert - a dream come true. It's actually quite nerve-wracking to have a microphone plonked in front of you. I can wax lyrical about football as well as the next chancer, but it's weird to be aware that what you're saying is being recorded. You're conscious of making a fool out of yourself, and if you're a bit nervy it's definitely easier to do that in speech rather than in print. You can become flustered very quickly. On my debut I said that Robert Green is one of the best goalkeepers in the world which drew an odd look from James Richardson, but what I meant by that was that contextually he's a member of an elite group, not that he's the equal of Iker Casillas or Julio Cesar. But when you're speaking it's easy to lose the run of yourself, so you have to be careful, especially when there are comments open on the article. I'm still trying to get used to hearing myself talk as well. Apparently I've got a lisp. Who knew?

I belong to Jimbo. Do you? Without a doubt. When I was younger I didn't have Sky and wasn't allowed to stay up to watch Match of the Day, so I would actually watch very little English football. That meant my football fix would come on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons thanks to Football Italia. So I'm sure James will be delighted to hear that I've been a staunch admirer of his work since the grand old age of seven. What a pro.

What's it like working with people's champion Barry Glendenning? As Barry is the deputy editor of the site I work for, I don't think there's a good answer to this question! I was quite proud to win a fiver off him last week though, especially as he's The Guardian's betting 'expert' during the World Cup.

Previously on these pages, we've established he (Barry) is mates with Dara O Briain whereas John Ashdown and Barry Chuckle are virtually (chuckle) brothers. Which famous punters do you knock about with? Sadly I don't have anyone too famous on speed dial. I do know a chap who plays for Millwall who goes by the name of Scott Barron. He played in the play-off final recently - a left-footer filling in at right-back at Wembley. And on that pitch too! Damon Albarn goes to my gym and is responsible for the acquisition of a table-tennis table. I've never seen him in there though (minor detail - Ed.). But I have seen Jeremy Paxman there. That was an awkward little episode. I'd just arrived and he was getting dressed in the changing room. I sort of knew it was him but couldn't be sure so I was staring at him quite intently, only for him to clock on and throw me a dirty look. We're not best mates.

Talking of comedy moments, aren't you a West Ham fan? Indeed. I'd rather not talk about them now though. We've had a thoroughly depressing time of it on and off the pitch and it remains to be seen how things are going to turn out next season. In fact someone asked me the other day and I said it's too early to tell - we have to wait and see how we do in the transfer market this summer. At least no one's going to want Robert Green.

Are you an armchair fan or do you pitch up at the Boleyn Ground every now and then? I had a season ticket for seven years before going to university in Manchester. When I was up there I was also able to get to loads of away games, but the most I've ever been during a season was when we were in the Championship between 2003 and 2005. I barely missed a match then. It's tougher now. I've got a membership which means I can get tickets easily but work can get in the way. Plus I play football on Saturday afternoons, which makes it even more difficult. You might say I'm not missing much but there's nothing quite like going to a football match, even if they're regularly somewhere on the scale between atrocious and dismal.

How did you end up at The Guardian? The usual route. I did some work experience there after I graduated two years ago and I was fortunate enough to be offered shifts on the web's night team by Gregg Roughley, who was the co-night editor at the time and is now the sports desk's Official Scouser. You've probably heard Gregg more on the podcast recently and if you haven't you should. So I regularly work until the early hours, which is why people might often see me talking to myself on Twitter at 2am. That works fine for me though, I can cope with the nocturnal lifestyle. It means you can sample the many delights of Kings Cross when your shift ends at 3am.

Should people pay to read your online work? People should definitely pay to read my online work. It's a tricky subject - the web does seem to be the future but it has to be profitable. But in doing that, you have to ensure you don't lose your readers if you do set up paywalls. I'm not sure if The Times website will work that well, you have to have something that sets you apart. Currently why would you pay to read what's on their site when you can read something similar on The Guardian's for free? Charlie Brooker's said much the same thing too. I'm not cheerleading on behalf of The Guardian's content, just offering a realistic perspective. In terms of football coverage, Gabriele Marcotti is excellent, especially on European football, but then so are the likes of Sid Lowe, Paolo Bandini and Raphael Honigstein.

You seem to have embraced Twitter and unlike some, mentioning no names (Henry Winter) you reply to your followers. It's addictive though isn't it? It's remarkably addictive and my output has only increased since I purchased a Blackberry in March. I think that may have been the beginning of the end for me as a functioning socialite. You've got to reply to your followers haven't you? That's the whole point of it. If you don't you just make yourself look a bit snobbish. Replying can really boost a writer's reputation too - I've had some illuminating debates with Honigstein and Marcotti recently. Mark Segal wrote a piece in last month's WSC about journalists on Twitter and pointed to how it's given more exposure to very good writers who aren't as well known as the ones on, say, Sunday Supplement. And usually they're the ones who reply. There are some exceedingly intelligent people on there too, people who know their football inside out. For example I only found out about the sublime Zonal Marking website thanks to Twitter.

Any other sports take the Steinberg fancy? I'm quite obsessed with football and always have been, but I also love tennis. I want to find the person responsible for putting the World Cup and Wimbledon on at the same time. It's like people who schedule a wedding in August and end up missing the first day of the new season. That's why God invented July. I'm really into boxing too, particularly since I started putting the gloves on myself.

How much sport do you watch each week? Too much. When we're at work we have multiple screens so if there are matches on at the same time you can watch them side by side. One weekend I watched a German and Italian game at work on a Friday night, the early Premier League game at home on a Saturday lunchtime, I went to West Ham in the afternoon, then at work I watched the 5.15 game and followed it up with two Spanish games and the Serie A clash, before tuning in to Match of the Day, and polished it off on Sunday with two afternoon Premier League matches before going to work in the evening and watching two Spanish games. (And Match of the Day 2.) I could probably have found a way to fit in more. I think I'd get on well with Marcelo Bielsa.

It must be like 'living the dream' getting paid for watching sport? Despite the answer above, sometimes when you're being paid to watch sport, you're actually doing the opposite. If you're in on a busy night, then you'll actually end up so caught up with the work that you'll probably only catch bits of the game here and there. The same's true of the minute-by-minutes. You spend so much time looking at your keyboard, you can't focus 100% of your attention of the match. So when angry readers email to ask us if we're even watching, the answer is ... well, sort of.

Aren't you the chap who sets those fiendish sporting questions in The Guardian? Give us a couple that our readers can have a stab at in the comments section (below). As it's the World Cup, here's a couple from my World Cup thrashings quiz on Tuesday. By the way someone from When Saturday Comes took the trouble of compiling a graph of all the quizzes we've done and apart from Rob Smyth's, mine are the most difficult. So if you're struggling, you're not alone. I've also been accused of making them a little too West Ham-centric.

By what score did Scotland lose to Uruguay in 1954?

A) 9-0
B) 6-0
C) 7-0
D) 8-0

How many goals Miroslav Klose score against Saudi Arabia in Germany's 8-0 win in 2002?

A) Three
B) Four
C) Five
D) Six

So without punching them in Google, have a stab at answering the above in the comments section below. Interaction see. It's the way forward I'm telling you.....

Money isn't everything is it. 80 large a week, playing and watching football, darts, snooker, internet and gaming and the England players are still bored. Can you offer any excuses for them? It's terrible isn't it? Then again you'd be annoyed if you had to spend your holiday with John Terry, I imagine he might be a keen follower of the 'What goes on tour stays on tour' way of life. I suggested on the last pod that maybe the players could read a book in their free time, but that just brought a snort of derision from Paolo Bandini. I don't know, even if it was just something like the Mr. Men series ... I think they might all enjoy that, especially Wayne Rooney. They could race to read all the books. Last one to finish has to issue another public challenge to Capello.

Can you sum up the World Cup so far in a tweet of less than 140 characters? Forget the vuvuzelas, the Jabulani, the diving, the boring opening games and James Corden. It will all be worth it in the end #worldcup

That's it Jacob, thanks a million for your time and keep up the very good work old chap...Thanks, it's been a pleasure.

Well, the pleasure was absolutely all ours. I'm doffing my EFW sombrero to Jacob as I type. You can hear more of our new pal on the Football Weekly podcast, read his stuff at The Guardian here and the Daily Mirror there. He's also minute-by-minuting during the World Cup at the Football Fanhouse and of course he's written for WSC whose award they dished out to EFW still gets polished on a daily basis.

Follow EFW and Jacob on Twitter

- Feel free to comment below -

Monday, 21 June 2010

Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal

Previously Plucky Pyongyangers

Here's the fifth instalment of Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal which is taking the country by storm:

Greetings all,

Slightly surreally, I have just watched a Korean national team lose for the third time in six days.

It resulted in the biggest scoreline I have witnessed live as the previously plucky Pyongyangers shipped seven to Portugal.

The world's greatest flat-track bully, Cristiano Ronaldo, was in his flouncing element and you had to feel sorry for the hapless North Koreans by the end.

They still have to face Didier Drogba but at least their countrymen will probably be reading about another famous victory tomorrow.

Cape Town's Green Point stadium looks magnificent from the sea, as I discovered on my way to Robben Island on Sunday.

There, I encountered penguins to add to my dolphins nature watch. You can apparently also be lowered into the water in a cage to view sharks but I find the prospect about as appealing as watching England again.

The one remaining Tues/Wed flight to Port Elizabeth for the impending horror show - a 4.45am take-off with budget airline Mango - has rocketed to nearly 200 quid.

I shall therefore be doing the world-famous Garden Route to Port Elizabeth instead - by bus and in the dark. It is a 12 hour plus overnighter and I have no accommodation yet on arrival.

All this is small beer compared to England fans who have given up their jobs to follow the team because they could not get time off work and will be signing on after the Premiership primadonnas' tournament exit. Wayne Rooney would do well to reflect on that next time he is upset by a bit of booing.

The big local news is that another South African budget airline, Kulula, will be flying a dog for free during the World Cup. They offered unlimited flights to Sepp Blatter after annoying the FIFA bigwig with their advertising, not being an official sponsor. He ignored the offer and the dog's owner changed his pooch's name, pointing out the airline had not specified which Sepp Blatter could take advantage. Only at the World Cup...

Bafana Tim

You can read more of Tim's World Cup Journal HERE

- Feel free to comment below -

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Tim Stewart's World Cup Journal

Huzzah! Huzzah! The hype and hoopla..

EFW have been given access to this fantastic journal of a fan out at the World Cup. Ipswich Town supporter Tim Stewart has been to 88 (eighty-eight) countries and has written countless articles which normally trouser him a deserved buck or three. For a princely sum of nought pence, Tim has been good enough to let us publish these tip-top musings from RSA. Forget our usual irreverent nonsense. This is a bit of class. Read on and enjoy:

Part 1:

Not strictly at the World Cup yet as the 64-match-tastic Greatest Show on Earth doesn't start until June 11 but I did meet Ruth [girlfriend] under a giant football at JoBurg airport. And the radio stations have a 'Feel it, it is here' jingle every few minutes.

The locals, who have paid about ten times less to FIFA for their tickets, are most excited about it all. Bafana Bafana has just thumped the might of Thailand and Guatemala in warm-up games, so they are now expecting to win the whole thing.

Drove out of JoBurg five hours to the Drakensberg mountains region by Blyde River Canyon, supposedly the world's third deepest after the Grand and one in Namibia I forget. There are great panoramas with names like Wonderview and God's Window.

We went into Kruger for a day and after five days without seeing a cheetah on safari in Kenya's Masai Mara, one walked right in front of the car in the first hour. Ate in the world's worst cafeteria but it was surrounded by giraffes, which made up for the food.

The currency has been a total pain. I came loaded down with 200 rand notes to avoid using cashpoints - only to find they were being taken out of circulation because of counterfeits. The highest valid currency in a country which is by no means cheap is now 100 rand -a tenner. After changing all my money to avoid a trip to the Federal Reserve Bank in Pretoria, I had so many notes that in all the confusion I initially walked out of the bank a thousand pounds light after their machines/staff ballsed up. You don't really want to be counting large wadges of banknotes in public there.

Now in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Strangely, with Ruth as a travelling companion I seem to be on a 'boutique' backpacking trip. Out go dingy dorms in hostels; in come self-billed hip and chic boutique hotels. Our latest is an Arabian-themed villa. Maputo is green and pleasant with a surprising number of nice-looking bars and restaurants for an African city.

We're heading up the coast next for Indian Ocean beaches before the orgy of football kicks off. I'm hoping to make the South Africa-Mexico opener at Soccer City, Soweto before England-USA in Rustenberg the next day. I have eight nights in JoBurg with most of the big teams playing at one of the two JoBurg venues in the first week. Particularly looking forward to supporting North Korea from their end against Brazil. Speaking of which, among roads named after Communist leaders here in Maputo, I am now in Kim Jong Il Street. Then I fly with the brilliantly-named Mango airline to Cape Town for England's second game and am out here until at least the quarter-finals, longer if Capello-inspired miracles occur.

Feel it. It is here,


Part 2

Greetings all. I can confirm I am still alive and well despite JoBurg and the South African World Cup Organising Committee's best efforts.

Total and utter shambles. No, not England's opening performance but the tournament planning and complete lack of any integrated public transport system. I spent 18 hours in travel time on official matchday transport for just two games - one 20km away in the suburb of Soweto and the other 120km away in Rustenburg. That is the equivalent of flying back to London and then halfway out to JoBurg again.

Matchday 1: South Africa-Mexico.

I set off from Sandton, an affluent suburb of JoBurg at 10am. There were no signs for Soccer City or any stewards/info/anything else World Cup-related despite it being the terminus for anyone arriving in JoBurg from the airport. I eventually found a shuttle bus supposed to take 30mins to the official stadium park and ride bus/Metrorail train. The freeway was totally gridlocked and we spent three hours on it. The Metrorail train did not move for an hour and then stopped for another 30 mins just outside Soccer City. Arrived at 3pm - five hours after setting off, missing the entire opening ceremony along with tens of thousands of others.The opening game had an attendance of only 85,000 when capacity was 97,000.

On the plus side, I got a face value ticket off a Mexican and there was a great party atmosphere with vuvuzela hooting and waving for 20 minutes until Mexico equalised.

On the way back, I tried the park and ride bus, which dropped me off in the city centre at night. All the South Africans got into their cars in the underground car park. I would have been left without buses, taxis or street lighting but begged a lift half an hour to Sandton with a local.

Matchday 2: England-USA

After the previous day's fiasco, I swerved my pre-booked matchday bus transfer from JoBurg to Rustenberg 120km away. It turned out that the bus took four and a half hours arriving only five minutes before kick-off after a passenger mutiny because the driver got hopelessly lost. I got a lift to the Fanfest with a Brit and then hitched a lift to the stadium with the police because I couldn't find the park-and-ride.

The tournament organisers achieved the near-impossible by failing sell out a 42,000 capacity England -USA match that could probably have sold out tenfold alone in the UK had they allocated more than 4,000 tickets to England fans officially. Around 30,000 of the 38,000 there were England fans and South African-based Brits and we looked on course for a comfortable, controlled win until our circus clown goalkeeper committed the howler of the tournament so far. I would have watched the replays on the giant screen except that it was blank all game.

Afterwards 38,000 fans looked at their park-and-ride tickets and realised they had one of five named park-and-rides but no directions or maps on their tickets or outside the stadium along with police, security and stewards who could not help. It meant I could not find my way back to the Brit's car despite an hour's walk around the entire stadium. At midnight, I found the bus I had pre-booked for JoBurg that was still missing half its passengers, who were wandering around lost too. We eventually set off on the single road out of Rustenburg while thousands of park-and-riders were queued up with some even having barbecues in the early hours with no exit in sight. We got back to Sandton at 3.30am and were dropped off, again with no linking buses, taxis or anything else. I had to get some South African girls to give me the numbers of reliable taxi drivers they use when out clubbing and got back to my digs at 4.30am.

Added to the above, not a single taxi driver in JoBurg has thus far found his way to my shambolic accommodation directly at night and they are all charging fourfold normal fares, as are all the hotels and guesthouses. My backpacker place has power cuts every ten minutes, haphazard water, is freezing cold at night and the internet is now working for the first time in a week. The chancer owners left me stranded for three hours outside a Gautrain station without public transport on the edge of Alexandra, South Africa's biggest township, when I first arrived. The much-vaunted new Gautrain was supposed to link JoBurg and Pretoria but only four of its many stations opened the week of the tournament and the train doors and lighting still fail on every trip.

So far, my World Cup experience is a case study in logistical nightmares and sleep deprivation. I've missed all the other games while travelling.

Other venues - Ellis Park, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban - are supposedly better as the stadia are nearer town avoiding the obligatory park-and-ride meltdowns.

The FIFA ticket centres have no screens saying which matches are still available and so you can queue for ages to be told within seconds you have wasted your time - and then find out there are tickets for the biggest games the next day, an unprecedented scenario.

Mozambique was equally haphazard overlanding but they hadn't submitted a FIFA transport blueprint and it was nearly 30C there with beautiful beaches.

JoBurg is a pretty hideous sprawl with many suburbs effectively off limits, very little street life and a maze of indoor malls.

This tournament is making the African Cup of Nations in Ghana look like a success of military precision - and that's saying something.

Hoping things will improve organisationally as they surely can't get any worse. England need to get their act together fast too as the Germans looked ominously good tonight if we balls up and have to play them next round.

Thanks to all that have voiced concern as to my whereabouts/well-being. The above will hopefully, at least, reduce jealousy levels among those not coming out here.

The live football is fun. Everything else leaves a lot to be desired so far.

Bafana Tim

Part 3

Greetings all, I'm a much happier bunny after putting the early transport horror shows behind me and taking in the Holland, Brazil and Argentina games in the past few days. Factor into that seeing real-life North Koreans and partying in Soweto and all is looking up.

I have started to find breaking all farcical local rules and ignoring all authority quite liberating on matchdays. The organisers are so nonplussed at Europeans misbehaving when they make ridiculous demands that they don't know what to say and let you go/do whatever you want in the end.

It's hard to see what Brazil and North Korea have in common and it was quite a strange clash to watch. I found myself rooting for the plucky underdog Communists but wondering whether I should be supporting the chosen representatives of such a repressive regime. Very briefly - as my chief concern was the minus three degree temperature at Ellis Park that night that made concentrating rather tricky. It seemed to put the Brazilians off their fantasy beach football too and it was pretty hilarious when Kim Jong Il's XI notched.

No such problems in attacking play for the Argies who had me most excited at Soccer City today with Messi, Tevez and co dazzling with their dribbling.

Spent my only live football-free day for a while on the Mandela tourist trail - the Apartheid Museum, his old house and Soweto. Avoided the tourist circus bus scene though by hiring a personalised guide with some Yanks and insisting we went to a proper shebeen - unlicensed, illegal garage bar - for the second South African game and the Soweto Fan Fest. We spent a half in each with beer served by girls from inside a cage in the bar. They must have been dangerous women.

You can get into any game here for around 500 rand buying fans' spare tickets - that's 45 quid and a great improvement on previous tournaments.

I do think FIFA should parachute in its own people to oversee/troubleshoot local organisation and ensure quality control and consistency between tournament venues though. Brazil will doubtless be equally chaotic otherwise.

Awaiting 3am flight to Cape Town that made perfect sense when I booked it but not so much now in time for England-Algeria match.

A Brit Ruth and I met at Inhambane airport in Mozambique briefly is heroically meeting me at 5am and putting me up in an eight bedroom mansion. Can't wait after a week in the JoBurg Hostel of Doom.

The draw is opening up beautifully for England if they win their group. Let's hope they take advantage for once.

Bafana Tim

Part 4

Greetings all,

Woke up this morning and looked out of the window to see schools of dolphins leaping out of the ocean. They were far livelier than the England players last night.

Utter tripe from a bunch of clueless chokers who were just as bad as Eriksson's World Cup team and bereft of Beckham's set pieces to bail them out this time around. Capello's formations and team selections at this tournament are no better than McClaren's either.

Much of the booing at the end came from disgruntled South Africans and foreign fans at the game but you also have to feel for Brits who have spent thousands of pounds to travel to Africa to watch yet another appallingly lame performance. 'All this way for nothing' was one chant that seemed best to sum it up. I'm just glad I've been watching the likes of Brazil and Argentina too as dutifully following the national team seems to be more a curse than a blessing.

Cape Town has a giant vuvuzela sculpture in town that is supposed to sound monster hootage when a goal is scored at the stadium. It was silent last night and may be a jinx as the opening game in the city was France's goalless draw with Uruguay. Enterprising locals are doing a roaring trade in earplugs outside all the grounds and I have also seen spectators sporting ear muffs. The vuvuzelas are being put to good use though - for quaffing yards of beer in the bars.

South African journalists are furious at calls for the noisy trumpets to be banned. They say this smacks of cultural imperialism by Europeans seeking to impose their own views on how football fans should behave. All I know is that having someone hoot in your ear with the apparent volume of a herd of bull elephants can make you most grumpy when hungover.

After six live games in eight days, I have been enjoying wandering around Cape Town doing nothing much today. The place could not be more different to JoBurg and the England fans are packing out the waterfront and Long Street nightlife district. Hoping to get on a Robben Island tour and contemplating taking in the Garden Route, Sun City and Durban at some point. Will probably lurch on to Port Elizabeth for the final England group game, sticking with the wasters to the bitter end totally against my better judgment.

There was at least one man who showed courage, determination and passion at the game last night - the England fan who stormed into the dressing room to berate the players afterwards. Give him a knighthood now.

Bafana Tim

We'll hopefully be publishing more of this gold in the coming days

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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Fatboy Slim World Cup Tour Diary

Tyldesley and Townsend - What's not to like?

England 0-0 Algeria (18:06:10)

Stuart Mair is in South Africa with Fatboy Slim and friends. Here he continues with his World Cup Tour diary, this time from Cape Town where things take a turn for the surreal:

Cape Town is the business. I've been to lots of wonderful places in this last week but this city is just fantastic. Table Mountain overlooks your every move in this most cosmopolitan of cities. Indeed when I opened the curtains this morning, there was Table Mountain starring back at me. It's a bit like Sussex back home *blink* but without the lowering yourself into a cage with a great white shark bit.

Things took a turn for the surreal (or, get this cereal - Ed.) at breakfast yesterday. It was an ITV-fest. A who's who of footballing pundits. I give you Mr Jim Rosenthal, Mr Clive Tyldesley and Mr Andy Townsend. They may get a bit of stick back home but they were a thoroughly decent bunch and terrific company. Andy Townsend revealed his is a big EFW fan and I know he is one of Danny's favourites so this one is for him:

We love you to Andy!

Good old Sussex by the Sea? Nope, it's the view from our hotel room.

Talking of exclusives: Clive Tyldseley told us that he has Norman's complete back catalogue and with that bombshell, the ITV crew were put on the guest list for the gig the following night. YouTube footage of Rosenthal, Tyldesley and Townsend swinging a fast shoe to Gangster Trippin' coming soon - possibly.

So with a spring in my step I entered the lobby today hoping for more banter with the ITV crew having worked on my punditry skills overnight but they were not to be seen. Not those cool cats but there were a couple of other chaps I noticed. It was only Peter Crouch and Glenn Johnson. They were in the restaurant after staying in our hotel over night. I didn't bother them though as I'm sure they had better things to do rather than be hassled by the likes of me.

So what have we done since I last wrote? Well I have done little but watch football when all around me has been a hive of activity with the full production team swinging into Cape Town for the Fatboy Slim show held after last nights game. I also accompanied Norman to a Radio 5 Live interview where Nicky Campbell asked "who are the burly chaps with you Norman?" oh, the shame.

Leaving for Stadium last night there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement to see Ing-gur-lund take on Algeria. We expected a routine three nil win with accompanying flag waving and all the trimmings and look what we got! Lets be honest it was poor, really poor but as the saying goes there are no easy games in International footba...*loses will to live*.

I will let the likes of my new ITV pals to analyse last nights performance but I will offer one view on last nights game. There were some England supporters that should have a long hard look at themselves this morning and ask themselves why they are here. I would like to offer each and everyone of them that booed at full time a dictionary where they can look up the definition of the word "support". (might be a good time to mention that there is a comments section underneath this article - Ed.)

My trusty old Nokia produces another award winning photo. Outside the gargantuan Polo mint that is the superb Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.

Brighton fans Al and Norman (eating the EFW logo)

After the game we all adjourned to the International Conference Centre where Norman played a terrific set, with full production, to a large and ecstatic crowd until about 3am. Not a single boo in the house!

We've got a day off today and so we're visiting one of the "Coaching for Hope" schemes that Mr Cook has been so involved in before driving to Plattenberg Bay along the Garden route. The next game for us is the England match in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. Remember, lets stay positive. Come on England!

To be continued.......

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World Cup betting

World Cup Willies

A man walks into a betting shop in Devon and places £3770 on Michael Dawson to score England's first goal against Algeria at 25/1. There is no punchline. It isn't a joke, it actually happened at a William Hill betting shop this week. Welcome to the mad world of betting, a game where everybody is bombastic about their chances but one in which few succeed.

Before European Football Weekends, I used to run a betting website called The Last Post. Famously we tipped up Tony David to win the BDO World Darts Championship at 100/1 in 2002. Less noteworthy was the fact we used to talk utter nonsense (no change there then - Ed.) and it sunk without trace. Gamblers only talk about the wins don't they? If they lose they say they broke even.

Anyway, enough balderdash for now. Let me introduce you to Graham Sharpe. He's the Media Director at William Hill and the man to talk to with regards to World Cup betting. Sharpe was kind enough to give EFW some of his time in between trousering some of our cash on our bet of Howard Webb to referee the World Cup final at 6/1. A headline of 'Worldwide Webb' in that instance is 1/33 so don't bother backing that:

For the uninitiated, what's your betting background and how did you get into this betting lark? I'm a journalist by trade who used to spend a lot of time in betting shops, so when I was changing newspapers over a quarter of a century ago I decided to work in a shop for a while - I'm still there now, really!

How much has been staked at William Hill for this World Cup? The World Cup is the biggest betting event of all - we've already seen a £200,000 accumulator on Group outcomes; £110,000 on France at 20/1 (run that one by me again - Ed.) and many more five figure bets as the turnover industry wide moves to exceed £1billion for the first time.

Who is your biggest liability? It will inevitably be England on the outright market because of the bias towards them in our shops.

Excuse us while we stifle our laughter. And what about online? It was looking like being Spain until their first match defeat.

Talking of the Spain, the Swiss victory against them must have warmed your cockles? We were delighted but a little concerned in case Spain go out as they do attract many neutrals to remain interested in the event.

And France not winning their group means you've trousered all the money of those favourite backers for the groups? France were not that popular pre-tournament as they have looked fragile for some while so that wasn't a great disaster for punters who had been dodging them.

You pulled the price on David James being keeper for the Algeria game before it was announced in the press. Do you have Fabio's mobile number on speed-dial? Just a well developed sense of self preservation when it comes to financial matters, which can often be a pointer to events which may or may not happen.

Is the price on England winning the World Cup artificial given that you are an English based bookmaker? It was at the start of the tournament but is now settling down in about the right place - fifth or sixth favourites.

What do you reckon Bob? Fiver on Holland to win the World Cup or £3770 on Michael Dawson to score first against Algeria?

Has football overtaken horse racing in terms of volume of bets? No

Do any other sports come close to those two? Greyhounds.

Novelty bets: Do your head in or all good publicity? I started them back in the day and was the first bookie ever to refund stakes when I did so over the Maradona 'Hand of God goal' I created weather betting, reality tv betting (via Who Shot JR?) and 'Will my son grow up to play for England?' betting - so I love them, although some others go a little too far these days.

How much sport do you watch a week? I'm a Luton Town fan, so very little!

In the old days William Hill v Ladbrokes was the Real Madrid v Barcelona of the High Street. Is Betfair the biggest competitor in 2010? Who?

Here at EFW we call games like Sunderland v Bolton 'Tong Gubba games' (ie he is likely to be covering them for MOTD). How much of an increase in turnover do you see for a Tony Gubba game that's televised live rather than being played at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon? TV coverage is all important for turnover but you can't always guarantee that the 'glamour' games will produce the biggest turnovers - some high rolling punters prefer games in which big odds-on shots are involved and many punters find United v Chelsea almost too difficult to bet on.

Where were you when Frankie Dettori went through the card for his seven-in-row? Driving home from Kenilworth Road - I wrote a book, The Magnificent Seven, about that afternoon and it makes a fascinating story (yes, I would say that, I suppose) - as soon as I got home I got on the phone (no emailing in those days) and stayed there for forty eight hours as the story grew and grew - I told our punter Darren Yates he'd won over half a million - he'd thought he had 'a few grand' to come! Bookies LOST, not just paid out, LOST, almost £50m that afternoon - an industry was almost destabilised.

Why as a firm do you not price up games lower than the football conference? I am a former director of Ryman League club Wealdstone - our players earn peanuts. The possibility of pre-arranged results at that level of football is a factor in that decision. Also, at that level, information that just one key player is injured can entirely change the betting on a match - and we're the last to find out.

So can you give EFW a price on Lewes FC (our team) to win the Conference South in 2010/11? We're not up with prices for the division yet, I'm afraid.

Well that's saved us a small fortune. Thanks a million for taking the time to talk to EFW Graham. No problem.

Got any World Cup betting stories? Any betting stories at all?

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Wayne Rooney answers England boo boys

In case you haven't seen it, here is Wayne 'Wazza' Rooney's reaction to being booed by the England fans after our caged tigers had gained a good point (well made) against Algeria in Cape Town. He actually says "Nice to see your own fans booing you. If that's what loyal support is ... for fuck's sake."

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So EASY for The Sun

The Sun in silly front page shock

The Sun have been responsible for making up a few front pages in their time - literally in the case of the Freddie Starr ate my hamster debacle - but surely this is the one that will come back to haunt them the most? I remember tutting and shaking my head when I cast my eye over this sorry rag the day it came out. Then again, it is the biggest selling newspaper in England and so what do I know? Still, five straight wins from hereon in and we'll all be gathered around Trafalgar Square watching Wazza, Stevie G and Robert (nicest table manners in soccer - least we forget) Green collecting their OBE awards for winning the Greatest Show on Earthtm.

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Friday, 18 June 2010

World Cup Tour Diary

A Winter Wonderland

Brazil 2-1 North Korea (15:06:10)
Spain 0-1 Switzerland (16:06:10)

Charlton Athletic fan Stuart Mair is at the World Cup with Fatboy Slim and friends. The squad stayed in Johannesburg to watch Brazil before flying to Durban for Spain v Switzerland and then onto Cape Town to cheer on England tonight. EFW wishes they were out there with them *sobs into desk* :

Ok, so where we? Last time out I had found football nirvana and pleasingly we have continued in that mystical and spiritual way. Tuesday saw the squad attending the Brazil v North Korea game at Ellis Park Stadium. It's described in our - by now rather tattered and torn - Guardian World Cup Guide as 'A key rugby stadium and venue of the 1995 World Cup final. Has San Siro elements but with muffin-top curves'. 5000 miles to see some muffin-top curves - tick.

In my last letter from RSA I was bemoaning the absence of the North Korean Vuvuzela and suggested that was because there were no North Korean support. I was wrong. North Korea do have a following here, 40 of them to be precise and precision is easy when you are just sitting behind the Korean Kop. I have never seen such furious and staged flag waving. The Chollima gave a fine account of themselves to the delight of the millions watching back home, oh.

The Brazil game was great and it so reminded me of home. There was something akin to an afternoon at The Valley. Was it the free flowing football? Was it balls. It was the fact that it was minus two degrees with a biting wind in our face. A multi layering of clothes was essential not to mention gloves, hats indeed anything I could lay my hands on - it was freezing.

The locals clearly weren't feeling the cold as much.

Obviously the thing to do after a chilly evening watching the beautiful game would be to go home and have a warming mug of broth and retire to bed. What we did do was attend the Winter Wonderland gig with Norman playing to a very boisterous crowd until 2 in the morning.

Waking early on Wednesday we flew to Durban to attend the Spain v Switzerland Match which was top draw. The Stadium is breathtaking and if I can resolve my technical problems, I will send some photos. (EFW has a Durban contact, see photos below - Photo Ed.) This Match also represented the first game that Slepp Blatter, Pele and I have attended together albeit in entirely different parts of the Stadium.

Ex-Scotland gaffer Andy Roxborough seemed slightly puzzled by me later in the Hotel, he was somewhat confused by my Scottish shirt despite coming from Sussex. After the Game we watched Bafana Bafana play poorly and lose against Uruguay, that's probably it now for them now although I sincerely hope I am wrong.

Durban is a lot warmer than the Jo'burg experience and we were sweltering in almost, er, 18c. However the trip was to take on a new height of surrealism, after Winter Wonderland, the next venue and gig was to be held at the Kingsmead Test Cricket Ground In Durban. It had been taken over by thousands of Australians - for the entire World Cup! They stay in Army tents with the pitch roped off but really live in the cleverly erected 'Mark Bosnich Big Beer Tent'. I even managed to find one Crystal Palace supporter who proudly told me that the had moved from Croydon in South London to Croydon in Melbourne 22 years ago.

The gig was, as one might imagine, and I am going to use a technical term here "a bit messy" there would have been some sore heads the next day believe me.

We have just landed in Cape Town and it really is as wonderful as they say with Table Top Mountain looming over us. We are here to play to some more Australians and tonight we attend England v Algeria which we are all so looking forward to before a rather large gig for all the English support after the game....lets hope they are in good humour after a fine performance from England. Although we've had our favourites, the previous three games have been stress free. Now it's England and there is a knot of tension in our collective stomachs.

Come on England. To be continued.....

A friend of EFW (Gary Lacroix) was out in Durban prior to the World Cup assessing the stadiums for the Australian TV coverage. He sent over the following photos of the Moses Mabhida Stadium with its Wembley-style design and superfluous arch which is meant to be a metaphor for South Africa's new unity:

What do you think of the World Cup so far?

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