Monday 14th June

An early-ish start for today’s trip back to Soccer City, where I was shooting Netherlands vs. Denmark at 1.30pm. The morning started in chaos, when Valeria announced she needed a car to get to Pretoria for a PR job for the German FA, as well as for her colleague Tim for a job he was due to do on his own the following day. Somehow, word got round that there wasn’t a house car available for her, and it was quickly decided that a short-term rental was the only option. So, with Pottsy, Ben and Mark in the car, we drove the now-very stressed German to Budget car rental just down the road where she managed to acquire a VW Polo for a few days. We returned to the Lodge to pick up Pottsy’s sat nav before heading off to the stadium, and as we pulled into the drive, there appeared to be a completely spare VW Touran sat there, specifically for Valeria’s use. Matt then told us he had just rung her to inform her…and that she’d gone absolutely nuts at him on the phone. Great start to the day…it’s become clear that 90% of the hassle and stress built up amongst us in the Lodge is down to the organsation of the cars and travel arrangements…who’s going where and at what time, and who can and can’t drive particular cars. The need to get everyone insured on as many cars as possible has never been more apparent.

When we went to collect our match tickets at the stadium, we were told that we wouldn’t be able to choose specific seats for the game – due to an error at Ellis Park the previous day, where tickets weren’t handed out until a very late stage, resulting in a rush to the desks – so we would have to sit where we were told…end of story. Fortunately, I was positioned close to where I would’ve chosen anyway – with the sun out fully on the pitch, and dropping down towards us, the only option was to shoot into it, to avoid bright backgrounds and 2 massively different exposures on 1 pitch. So there I was, far side from the managers, level with the penalty spot.

As we’d now come to expect, the fans and their outfits were the main focus of photographers’ lenses half an hour before kick-off…the bright orange of the Dutch, and the red and white of the Danes, together with the other weird and wonderful creations on display from the local African fans made for some great pictures once again.

The match itself produced very average performances from both sides, although the Dutch always looked in control and deserved their 2-0 victory. Leechie got some lovely shots from the tribune, shooting with the light against a clean green background. I tried to do a few different things; my images from the other side of the pitch were backlit and thus lacked a degree of contrast and punch.

I edited my stuff alongside Leechie in the media centre afterwards, and made our way home in time to go out for dinner on the back of a rare early evening arrival. We ate at the Keg & Countryman, and traditional pub on the same complex as Luigi’s pizza place just a few minutes from the Lodge, where they were showing the Italy vs. Paraguay match live on TV. A couple of beers later and we were back off to the Lodge, where things got a bit lively when Leechie, Steve and Kleiney discovered the joys of firing dried apricots from Leechie’s £2 catapult that he bought the day he arrived. The evening climaxed with them aiming at an egg balanced on the top of a wine bottle – Leechie had 3 shots, with no success, and then up stepped Kleiney…and nailed it first time, smashing the egg all over the kitchen. Caught on video by your’s truly…great stuff.

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