Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
For rugby fans everywhere, the name of Ellis Park is synonymous with some of the world’s best teams and matches. Let’s face it, the games do not get any bigger than the Springboks versus the All Blacks, certainly not in the Southern Hemisphere. So tickets to today’s game were rarer than ostrich teeth!
Having been oh so fortunate to have been invited , (that decision took a whole nanosecond), off we set in good time to meet up with a couple of VIPs (clients). Or it would have been if half of South Africa had not been equally keen to attend the game. The traffic 2 hours before the kick-off was horrendous. Disastrous for us, the enterprising folk of this country turned highways into markets selling shirts, flags, caps and hats ostensibly in the national team colours. A few brave souls had similar for NZ.
Being in a 4×4 was a distinct advantage when we worked out we had been taken down a wrong street. Asking nicely had the police stopping the traffic to wave us across the central reservation curbs and down the street opposite.
Mayhem resumed at the next junction when the robots (traffic lights in English) were being ignored in favour of the police taking charge. 50 m later, we are told we are heading in the wrong direction, and more help needed to turn round. Many streets later, we are told that the last instructions were wrong, and we should now drive another 3km to get back to where we started…..
In near despair at making the kick-off and meeting our VIP clients, we asked the driver of a police van what would be the best thing to do. After telling us it would take at least another 45 mins to get where we needed to be, he said “tell you what, why don’t you follow me in through that gate and leave your car there”. ‘There’ turned out to be the main police station yard!
Nor did their kindness stop there, for we were then invited into the back of the van (not usually occupied voluntarily!), and he took us to the stadium entrance.
Before getting to our seats, there was a massive roar as an airliner ‘buzzed’ the stadium a couple of times. It was really really low (see YouTube if you don’t believe me)! Anywhere else it would have resulted in the air force being scrambled, other than the US where they would have declared war on Iraq!
Here it was a major marketing effort to celebrate the new sponsorship of the stadium. Real style!
It is very difficult to put the atmosphere of the stadium into words. Having the best part of 70,000 people (well, there were a few Kiwis there) give their very emotive national anthem their all is almost overwhelming, and one had to feel for the All Blacks trying their best to stamp out the Haka in the face of the pretty partisan crowd.
The game was fast and furious, rugby at its very best. In truth, there was no argument that the best team on the day won, and the disappointed crowd was good natured in the defeat.
Of course, once outside the ground, there was the minor matter of finding the car. The police ‘paddy-wagons’ do not have windows, so we had not actually seen where we were driven. Before we could even dial the cellphone number our friend had given us, we found them parked just outside, and we were again invited to take a ride back. This time we had one of our VIP clients with us, which made for much hilarity!
To the 2 policemen who rescued our day and made it so memorable, thank you so much. It would never have happened in most other countries, and helps to remind us of why there is so much good about this wonderful country.