Back in New York and back on high-speed internet, the Live from South Africa blog continues where it left off, with a few of our experiences now in new light thanks to a ridiculous performance by the US national team in its final group stage game at the World Cup.
The one match we couldn’t leave South Africa without seeing was US v England on June 12 in Rustenburg and thankfully Team FADER had tickets. The drive from Johannesburg to Rustenburg is about three hours, so we loaded up the van with biltong, Appletiser and American flags and made our way north by northwest with our Afrikaans driver and his sort of enticing, somewhat unnerving “VICTORY” pamphlets espousing his faith via soccer metaphors and stacked on the console. Good dude… a little odd.
But first we stopped by Jo’burg’s big radio station YFM to meet up with DJs Siz ‘n Scoop, who were hosting local SA house legend DJ Cleo on their Saturday morning show. In between jams, the three discussed the intricacies of pushing weight inspired by a Memphis Bleek lyric and talked about how awesome Cleo is and gave us a shout on the radio, which we appreciated highly. Radio is king in SA, so even though it’s nearly impossible to find The FADER down here, we were psyched knowing maybe a few people would search for us because of this. So thanks, dudes! Also, Scoop, hook us up with a hat (every time we saw him he had some next level headgear on, incl some insane Rhythm Nation joint).
From YFM we hit the road, but only after stopping at the ubiquitous Nando’s for some chicken sandwiches, chips and perinnaise. Peri peri is a tangy sauce originally imported by the Portuguese which you can find just about anywhere. Nando’s mixed it with mayo to create liquid crack. Apparently, there used to be Nando’s commercials that openly warned customers of the digestive calamity caused by their food. We’ll leave it at that. While waiting, we bumped into Moses, the Bafana Bafana fan in the photo up top. Bafana was not playing on this day, this is just the general vibe of about half the people on the street at any given time.
Back in the van, which now filled with the aroma of spicy chicken, we housed our food and instantly fell asleep, only to awaken in Rustenburg, where we stopped for more biltong and Appletiser at a gas station and met these dudes…
Word to the wise: Do not mess with these dudes, they are tough!
From there we went to a local pub to kill some time before the big match and then on to one of the fan parks, where you could watch matches on jumbotrons with several thousand people. As you can see in the above photo, some people could care less about Lionel Messi.
A few hours later we were with the throngs of English and American fans entering the stadium. As New Yorkers and writers, we take our drinking very seriously, but there is no longer any doubt that Englishmen are the drunkest creatures on this planet. Kudos to the thousands of grown men (likely parents) who showed up to the game totally blacked out and sleeping on their feet at the ticket turnstiles. After the match, we particularly enjoyed the fellow who, while attempting to step down over the empty rows of seats, caught his foot and somehow tumbled down like 17 rows only to stand up and cuss at his friends further down who weren’t even laughing, which made us think that this was probably something he does at every match he attends.
Regardless! The most shocking aspect of this match was that American fans outnumbered the English by about two to one. We later heard that the only country to buy more tickets than the US to this year’s World Cup was South Africa, which is pretty astounding.
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln even came dressed as John Belushi and Norm MacDonald!
Anyway, as you may now know, we drew with England on a wildly unskilled goal by Clint Dempsey and then drew with Slovenia because of some wildly unskilled refereeing. But yesterday, there was no stopping the Americans and the oft-maligned Landon Donovan. We watched this one in the conference room, far removed from drunken fathers and vuvuzela drone, but the emotion was just as intense. When Donovan scored in the 91st minute, faces were punched, dogpiles were formed, iced coffees were spilled, and the US finally proved itself to be a world class soccer team.