Thursday 10th June

Our 3 new arrivals woke with sore heads, and went off to Soccer City to sort out their accreditation. The day before the opening game…I wouldn’t have fancied that. Meanwhile, a few of us put our feet up, edited more pictures from the previous day, and waited for our final housemate, Steve Bardens, to arrive, courtesy of a lift from the airport with Nick Potts and Adam Davy (PA). Matt, Cath, Marc and few others had gone to a camera shop in Sandton, so Chris and I waited…and waited…and waited.

At 2pm, the gate buzzer called and in they drove. Steve’s reaction to his accommodation – the sofa – was met with calls for an instant return to Heathrow. Unfortunately, 3 weeks it will be…rather him than me.

Leechie rang to ask me to cover Brazil’s open training session at 4pm. I went onto the FIFA Media Channel website and found the address to be no more than a couple of miles down the road, at Randburg High School, so we wondered down the road to Brightwater to get some food, knowing that I had to be back and in the car by 3.15pm.

I went to the training session with Chris, Valeria and Ben…it was attended by hoards of media; camera crews, journalists, reporters and photographers, all there to cover a group playing ‘piggy in the middle’ around the edge of the centre circle. As far as nice pictures were concerned, it was near enough a complete waste of time. One shot of Robinho and Kaka enjoying themselves together, and that was about it.

We soon got back to the Lodge, where we were unable to wire anything thanks to the lack of internet. We edited the photos – my set came to a grand total of 12 images – and then got together for a meeting to arrange who would be going in which cars for the next week’s worth of matches. Once this was arranged, we headed out in a 2-car convoy to dinner – at Carnivore restaurant, just outside Johannesburg.

I went to Carnivore last year with Chris and Matt during the Confeds Cup, but our group was slightly larger this year – a table for 18 was required. On the way there, we had some serious directional issues…I was driving, and sat nav decided it wanted to take us somewhere we hadn’t asked to go. Eventually we arrived, an hour or so after we’d left, and we got stuck into a game meat buffet that included giraffe, zebra, crocodile and impala, to name just a few. The beer and wine was flowing freely; everyone was enjoying what we knew would be our last chance to relax for the next 17 days.

Pottsy, Adam Davy and Bardens joined us later in the evening, direct from Soccer City where they’d spent most of the day sorting out their accreditation. Unfortunately, they forgot to go back to Randburg to pick up George Herringshaw, who’d expressed an interest in joining us for dinner, so Pottsy did the honourable, if not ridiculous thing, and drove 40 mins there and 40 mins back to pick him up. Anyhow, a great evening was topped off by us getting stopped by the police just a few miles from the Lodge. A stiff word from Valeria in the front seat to drown out the drunken noises from those of us in the back meant the thieving conmen were soon leaving us alone.


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