Exit & Aftermath
Okay, so it’s 8 months now since I last posted to this blog. England’s humiliating defeat to ze Germans in Bloemfontein is sufficiently in the past for the story of the World Cup in South Africka to be revisited.
The morning after our exit, we woke up in a freezing cold campsite, hungover, amidst a hoard of other Englandfans packing their bags for the airport. Having (rather stupidly) gambled on Englands progression the final (or at least the semi’s) we had another 2 weeks to explore South Africa. On one side I’m thinking, this is not so bad, no work, with my pals, beautiful and interesting country. On the other side, it’s difficult not to think that the reason we had flown 6000 odd miles was for the World Cup which was an instant reminder of the slipshod defending, lack of desire, determinate and respect for the fans that the 3 lions had shown the previous night.
One thing that struck me as we were being taught a football lesson by ze Germans was the lack of aggression. England, famed for the ‘never say die’ attitude, applauded for the grit and determination shown week in, week out during the hustle & bustle of the Premiership was just not there. Okay, so Spain showed that Total Football can work against a physical, fired-up opponent, but in the remaining minutes of that game in Bloemfontein I couldn’t help myself urging the players to ‘get stuck in’, to at least pick up some yellow cards on their way out. This is not a proud thought, but at the time it would have given me some comfort to think that at least they did care and they wouldn’t give up in the final Whistle had gone. Unfortunately not only were we outclassed by Germany, but they wanted it more, they were technically better and they were a genuine team that their county could be proud of. Almost as disappointing as the performance was to see the England players traipsing off at the end of the game without a word of thanks to the fans. I’m not suggesting that they are a bunch of arrogant stars who don’t care about turning out for their county. It must have hurt to go out, but it would have been nice if they had mustered a round of applause for the fans, thrown a shirt into the crowd, even given an acknowledging nod. But it was over…
The next two weeks we visited some amazing sights, Graaff-Reinet in the ‘Valley of Desolation’, Cape Town, several spots along the Garden Route and eventually to Johannesburg for the Final. What an amazing country this is, the effort made for the World Cup was staggering, the hospitality and friendliness of the people could not have been further from the truth from all the pre-tournament scare-stories in the British press before the tournament. Check out our pictures, this really was a holiday of a lifetime. Bring on Brasil 2014.
For further reading on the impact of the World Cup I would highly recommend Mark Perryman’s article ‘Three Lions Ate My Shirt’: