Saturday July 3 we’re up early as we have the second quarter final, Argentina v Germany in Cape Town at 4pm. We’re 300 miles away in Plett so I feel a little bit of urgency. Seems like it’s not shared by too many others except Benjy who is very adult when it comes to getting to games on time. I make my first mistake in Knysna – as we pass a Vide le Cafe, one of my favourite South African coffee shops, I pull over and Liora goes in to get us some hot sustenance for the next few miles. 10 minutes go by, then fifteen and she never emerges. Benjy is beside himself and we can’t understand it. Seems my wife has been eaten by a giant mocha or something. When she finally gets back to the car, it’s a long story about cup sizes etc., but I’ve worked myself into a state and don’t even hear her. And the coffee’s not great.
I settle into a good pace, probably picking up a speeding ticket some where, and we all rendezvous at a fabulous country coffee shop, the Blue Crane (my grandmother once owned a small hotel in a tiny godforsaken town in a forgotten part of South Africa. It was called the Blue Crane so the name resonates for us). We seem to be doing ok for time and there are some German fans there also on their way to the game.
After some delicious home made treats we’re on our way again. When we get to Somerset West, about thirty miles from Cape Town, the traffic gets heavy. And then much worse. It becomes apparent we’re quickly running short of time. The traffic just gets worse and worse; this was always going to be a stretch day, but we were surely never going to be late. And our three car convoy is totally scattered now so that we have no idea where anyone else is. Liora’s supposed to be going with a friend of mine to watch the game on a big screen somewhere; we drop her off on the road somewhere to fend for herself and hope for the best. When we all get back to my parents’ house, we do a quick about turn and get ready to go. My mom drives all seven of us (3 adults and four kids) in their Toyota Corolla downtown (fortunately every policeman in Cape Town is focused on the soccer) and we jump out and get on the Fanwalk.
The atmosphere is fantastic; these occasions are a little mixed – we’ve looked forward to them for so long, they are so thrilling yet in a couple of hours’ time another much awaited clash will be over. Once again the spirit amongst the supporters is wonderful and we’re cheering wildly (for Argentina). It’s a beautiful, sunny winter’s day in Cape Town, and the combination of weather, teams, and a Saturday afternoon kick off all equate to incredible crowds. Apparently half a million people will do the walk today (although how do they get these figures ?)
The game itself is a little disappointing. Germany score very early and despite a lot of possession, Argentina cannot come back. They’re hammered in the last few minutes and go down 0-4. So the two South American giants are out whereas the lesser nations of Uruguay and Paraguay are still in.
After the game, we walk back into town. The weather is too good and the atmosphere too electric to end it. So we hang around, joining in the entertainment, enjoy some boerewors rolls and ‘hot chips’ (usually called ‘slap chips’ in SA) and eventually go watch the Spain Paraguay game on the big screen at the Parade. It’s a tense affair, as Spain just cannot score. Paraguay miss a penalty, then Spain do the same through Xabi Alonso, a cruel twice taken shot. But with seven minutes to go David Villa scores for Spain and the crowd explodes. It will be Spain v Germany in the semis – what a game !
Afterwards we walk through town waiting for a ride home. Even at 11pm the partying is continuing. There’s singing and shouting and people everywhere. It’s fantastic,like a world celebration in the middle of my city (which it all is). I cannot remember the last time I’ve walked Cape Town’s streets this late – it’s normally not considered very safe- but it feels wonderful.
It’s been a long day but another memorable one !