Archive for the ‘Fan Perspective’ Category

Fan Diary: Entry #3, Slovenian Roller Coaster

Before Landon froze Handanovic

More from Colin Crawford in (and around) the field

Yesterday we went to the USA v Slovenia game.  We learned from our previous exploits to show up really early to avoid lines for the bus and to get into the stadium.  We tried to buy some souvenir scarves but were declined by “the official card for the world cup” (since I am out of the US)…which is also the only card that you can use to buy souvenirs outside the stadium…awesome, thanks Visa.

US fans were ready early....

The crowd was absolutely phenomenal.  The US fans were in the stands and in strong voice at least 45 minutes before kickoff.  The first goal was tough to swallow and the second was downright depressing just before halftime…especially when the States almost got the equalizer just a few minutes before.

Halftime really gave it time to sink in that the US probably won’t make it out of the group stage.  When Donovan scored just after half, the US fans woke up and were given a glimmer of hope and used every bit of their energy to push the States on for the equalizer.

When that came, the place went absolutely nuts…at some point I picked up the 5-year-old child that was standing next to me and gave him a big hug.

Now the part that is painful to talk about…the 3rd goal.  The entire stadium thought it was good…it wasnt until we settled our celebrations down that we noticed it wasn’t allowed.  I went from being absolutely overjoyed at what should have been the greatest comeback in US soccer history, to being absolutely furious and puzzled as to what had just happened.

When we got back to the house, all the people here were just as puzzled and felt for us.  We quickly focused our attention on England v Algeria and were given a gift by the Algerians.  We need a win 6/23 to move on, and that’s it.  We don’t need help from anyone else and our destiny is back in our own hands, so I guess I will use that to alleviate the frustration with the ref.

After the England v Algeria match, the USA v Slovenia match was replayed and I got a better idea of just how bad the ref really was.  There was a string of 4 fouls in the second half that could have been red cards against Slovenia, but only 3 yellows were shown.  I read today that the ref is having an expedited performance review and will most likely be banned from officiating any more matches this world cup.  For me, the damage is already done, so it doesn’t really matter.  The best possible solution is for the US to come out with something to prove against the Algerians and take 3 points and one of the top 2 spots.

Deflation more than elation in leaving the field...

Fan Diary: Entry #2, Go Oranje!

Father's Day was early for this duo this year...

Colin Chapman is a member of the TSG community

OK, so our third day was a bit less crazy than our first day.  Our first priority was the Netherlands v Denmark game.  We learned from the first match that park and ride is the ONLY way to get to the stadium and the lady that runs the bed and breakfast we are staying at let us know where to go.

This....was the short line...

Turns out that the parking garage was at Constitution Hill, a very historic place for South Africa.  We didnt have time to poke around, but will be going back to check it out again in the next few games.  The line for the bus to the stadium was REALLY long, but didn’t end up taking that more than 30 minutes or so to get on a bus.

Once we were on the bus and on our way to soccer city, There was a moment when the bus was approaching the stadium and you could sort of see the top above the tree line and the as soon as the trees ended, you could see the entire stadium and it looked enormous.

Impressive....

We finally made our way to our seats and we surrounded by Holland fans.  The Denmark fans were definitely the minority.  For the most part, the game wasn’t too interesting…at least not until Eljero Elia was subbed in.

I’ve got quite a few pictures of the crowds and stadium and a video of us making our way to our seats right as the anthems were finishing up.  I went into the game backing Denmark because of our housemates, but they just weren’t doing much, and I wanted to see goals…so I ended up cheering for Holland by the end.

Once the match was over, the lines to get on the bus were as expected…crazy.  The match ended at 1:30 and the bus got us back to our car at 5:30…it was 6 miles away.

"Waldo!" "Oh, Waldo."...."WALDO!"

We headed to the beer store after that and caught the last few minutes of the Japan v Cameroon game, then found our way to Sandton to find some restaurants there.

What we found was a couple of “fan zones” that were outside areas in a mall area that had large screens set up for people to view the matches.  We watched the first half of the Italy v Paraguay match indoors over dinner and went outside with the crowd to watch the second half on the big screen.  About the same number of Paraguay supporters were out as Italy supporters, but I feel that a lot of them were sort of like Scotland fans are with England and were just rooting for whoever is against Italy.

Thats all for now.  We have 2 days off before our next match (France v Mexico).

Fan Diary: Entry #1, Potholes & Gooch Cheers

The account....in fewer words...

TSG has tethered some “reporters in the field” to some string and a tin can down in South Africa.

Here’s the 1st of our fan perspectives:

I will start at the check in line at NY JFK airport.  I get in line and the two people who get in line right behind me turn out to be Hope Solo and someone else affiliated with the WNT.

No Amelia Earhart....sharing the ride with the TSG crew...

The flight to Dubai took 13 hours and I was supposed to have a 9 hour layover in Dubai…Emirates was nice enough to give out hotel rooms for anyone that has more than an 8 hour layover and at the hotel, they were offering 2 hour tours of Dubai and it was definitely worth the $30 it cost me.

After that, 8 hour flight to Dubai which left at 4:40am local time.  The flight was almost entirely filled with soccer fans heading to J-burg for the World Cup.  I saw lots of US and English fans, a large group of Slovenia fans, a few groups of Algeria fans…Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Holland, Italy, Mexico, Honduras, Nigeria, Chile, and Australia were all represented.  You could sense everyone’s excitement on the flight and when the flight touched down, more than a few “Ole!(s)” could be heard.  The flight landed at 11am local time in J-burg…about 9 and a half hours before the US v England kick off.

Zoo City, RSA...

I have attached an image from the airport (the one with the soccer ball in the sky) the lines for rental car and picking up game tickets were both pretty long.  We finally got through them and tested out driving on the left side of the road for the first time.  It was pretty intense with the traffic but we managed to finally find the place we are staying after getting lost and missing a few turns.  We spent a few minutes dropping off our stuff and then it was time to drive to Rustenburg.

We had two options to get there…the short route on country roads or the long route on main highways….we elected the short route since it theoretically should have taken less time…it did not work out that way.

We got lost on city streets on the way out of J-burg suburbs a few times but when we finally made it to the main road to Rustenburg, we thought we were set.  15 minutes later, we found a pothole that could have qualified as a crater…the thing was at least 8 inches deep and about 3 feet in diameter and wholly unavoidable…it blew out a tire.

We were in the middle of nowhere with nothing in site but got it changed in 20-30 minutes…once we got back on our way, we got to the southern side of Rustenburg with 2 hours til kickoff and we thought we were fine…then we hit the traffic.  By the time we got parked and shuttled to the stadium, we sprinted to the ticketing gates and the sprinted to our section…we made it there in the mere seconds after the national anthems but before kickoff.

Colin and crew, sprinting to the game...

The drive was supposed to take 2 hours, people told us it would take 4…it ended up taking 6 hours.  If it would have taken 6 hours and 1 minute, we would have missed the kickoff.  The whole time we were sprinting to our seats, we could hear the cheers and vuvuzelas, but had no idea what we were in for because we couldn’t see inside…once we came out of the tunnel, we were awestruck.

Both sets of fans…USA and England had turned up in great numbers.  I had fans dressed up as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln right behind me in the stands, there was a fan with a Gaetjens jersey on in front of me, and cheers of “19-50″ could be heard….on the other end there were England flags hanging of the edges of the 2nd level for the entire perimeter of the stadium and all the traditional English songs could be heard as well.

When Gerrard scored in the 4th minute, the English fans quickly drowned out the US fans.  Slowly the US got back into the game and so did the US fans.  At least from my point of view, the US fans were in stronger voice from the Dempsey goal until the final whistle.  Every save by Howard and every clearance or strong play by “Gooch!” provoked cheers from the US fans.  It was a strange feeling in the stands because the clock, scoreboard, and replay screen were not working…so you had to pay close attention the whole time.

A great tradition from the Yanks...

I think the story that told it all was after the final whistle…the US fans stayed in their seat and cheered on the US players and the players hung around and thanked the fans…while the English fans headed for the buses and the English team promptly headed for the locker room.

As much as I would have loved a win, a draw still made me happy but seemed more irritating to the English fans rather than upsetting them.

Most of them were courteous at the end but quick to attribute it to Green’s blunder rather than the US performance….and quite a blunder it was…I havent seen a replay of it, but there was a moment of “did that really just happen” just before the celebrations started.

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