Johannesburg: Spain vs HollandThe last stop on our world tour of finals was in Johannesburg South Africa for the 2010 World Cup Final
Winners from the Borders to Shetland
Dutch sitting Bull!
A small aperitif during the fire alarm
The African Sunset
African singers in hospitality
The guys get ready for the final
Graham & Kenny Waddell
Relaxing on the hotel rooftop terrace
Never without a beer
Me and Louis Van Gaal
Nelson the Big Man!
Stuart with Louis
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We flew from Edinburgh to London,and then on to Johannesburg. However, things were not to go smoothly for the longest journey of the tour. Whilst enjoying a relaxing beer in the bar at Heathrow, fire alarms went off everywhere and we had to evacuate the building. We later heard that someone had set off the fire alarms after burning toast in the kitchen. We eventually boarded for the 12 hour flight but sat in the plane on the tarmac for almost two hours before we took off. Not the best of starts for a long journey. Returning from Johannesburg, we taxied out right on time only to return to the departure stand after the pilot informed us there was a problem with the brakes! Two and a half hours later, still sitting in the aircraft we finally got the all clear to take off and head home. When we came into land everyone was praying that they had done a good job repairing the brake failure!!!The city of Johannesburg is absolutely massive and is not a place to wander about (we were well warned beforehand). We visited Nelson Mandela Square on a couple of occasions as this was recommended as a safe and enjoyable place to be. There were many fans in the square and a great atmosphere was generated. Also good restaurants and entertainment all watched over by a huge statue of the man himself, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (see below left).Whilst Carol and I were content to relax in the hotel, Craig and Stuart hired a car and organised a round of golf at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City. They thoroughly enjoyed the day, but got lost on the way back. Apparently, the overhead motorway signs are not lit up at night and as it got dark they lost their way. It took them one and a half hours to get to Sun City, but over three hours to find their way back to the hotel. In the meantime, Carol and I met up with friends we made in Johannesburg, Kenny and Graham, from Greenlaw in the Scottish Borders for a meal and a few drinks in Nelson Mandela Square.
CUP FINAL DAYThe big day arrived and we boarded our bus for the game. The bus travelled into the heart of Johannesburg to a second hotel where we joined a convoy of vehicles carrying all the press and photographers. Police vehicles and police motor cyclist arrived to escort us to the ground. With lights flashing and sirens sounding the convoy was escorted through Johannesburg to the outskirts of the city at which point the police departed the scene and we carried on to the ground. The Soccer City Stadium is miles outside the city in the middle of nowhere and is a beast of a construction. My best description for it was its likeness to a huge scooped out pumpkin with a rash! (see the photo left). The bus parked at least three quarters of a mile from the ground and we then had to find our way to hospitality. After considerable searching we eventually found the hospitality area - a huge marquee with an Africa band playing outside the entrance.
HOSPITALITYEntering the hospitality area was like moving from one world to another - from the bleak scrub land outside into an immaculately clean and spacious dining area. We were immediately offered drinks - the choice was yours and comprehensive. The food was served in two stages and was an African buffet style with many starters and main courses including the famous biltong and bobotee, (considered to be the national dish of South Africa, although it is commonly thought that it arrived there with Malaysian immigrants during the 17th century) - extremely tasty. Meanwhile we were entertained by a group of buxom African singers (see photo above and right) and also a traditionally dressed female juggler on stilts. When it was time to head for our seats for the game, we had about half a mile to walk to find our gate and then search for our seats. The opening ceremony was spectacular and lasted almost an hour.THE GAMEIt was a pleasure to watch the skills of the Spanish side, in particular Xavi and Iniesta who ran the show, and no question the best side one in the end through a late goal by Iniesta, a fitting end to his great performance. From the Dutch prospective, I can only only say I was disappointed in their tactics which, were in the main, to kick anything that moved (Van Bommel being the main culprit), and only Arjen Robben gained pass marks, but he was generally well contained by a solid Spanish defence.