Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pretoria University FC – Western Province United (03-11-2006)

I have come to South Africa to visit my friend P.K., who is there for five months, and, obviously, to see some games. My first game in the country would be one in the Mvela Golden League, the South Africa Second Division. The venue of the game is the LC de Villiers Stadium in Pretoria, which is located at the campus of Pretoria University, thereby providing some (illusion of) security. After a short period of searching, we parked next to the stadium and entered the ground. Oddly enough, there were no ticket offices and so we entered the ground for free. The stadium has only one stand, at one of the long ends, and seems mainly built for athletics (the bigger stadium of the university rugby team was next to it).

We arrive around 19.15, some 45 minutes before the game. After a nice talk with the two officials of the PSL, the South African Premier Soccer League, we take our places in the stand. At that time, some 20 minutes before the start of the game, there are 50 people at best in the stadium, mainly friends and family of the players, it seems. When the game is well on its way, the crowd has risen to some 150, none (as far as we can see) from the away team. They enjoy the evening, despite the often hilarious ‘football’ on the pitch. Both teams are dismal during most of the game, but Pretoria University FC (or ‘Tuks’) is the least bad. Western Province United is also solidly bottom of the league and would stay there. In part because of dismal defending by WPU, the home team gets to 3-0 at half time without playing well.

The second half remains poor, although WPU seems to have some chances at success. The ‘excitement’ increases when Pretoria University brings in a guy I had already spotted during the warming-up: a kind of self-professed star, who does all kind of useless trick. In the game he is even more ridiculous and useless than during the warming-up. The crowd loves him though, despite the fact that he is an insult to the opponent and the ‘beautiful’ game itself. Some of his fellow players don’t seem to be too happy about him either, and refuse to pass the ball to him. In the end, not thanks to this ‘star’, Tuks score the 4-0, which is also the finale score. A very poor game indeed.

True, it might have been more glamorous if my 250th groundhop-point would have been collected at Liverpool FC-PSV, which instead will be my 253rd, but somehow this fits the whole experience of groundhopping even better: a game in the South African Second Division. That’s what groundhopping is all about!

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