Monday 28th June

The main aim of the morning was to get Leechie and Ben to the airport, or at least to something that could get them to the airport, in this case, the mysterious new Gautrain station in Sandton, in Johannesburg. They were both due to fly down to Cape Town; Ben to shoot the quarter final down there, and Leechie to spend an indefinite amount of time there before heading home. We found the station by 12.30pm, and they were on their way. Leechie admitted that morning that unless the Final involves the biggest teams (which should be Brazil vs. Argentina) then he may sack it off and go home early, leaving me to cover it myself. No pressure then!

I went straight from Sandton to the Mugg & Bean at Boskruin, where I met a few of the guys who’d gone for lunch whilst I did the taxi run. Mongo and Simon were only just getting their main course, so I sat down and ordered something myself. By the time we were done and dusted and back at the Lodge ready to leave, it was 2.45pm. Chris was driving his now-familiar route into Hillbrow, so we packed up and got on our way.

When we arrived, there was hardly a seat available in the photographers’ room…something we’d come to expect when doing a match in either Johannesburg stadium. However, when I went to collect my match ticket and choose my pitch position, the extent of the numbers present at the match became horribly apparent. All seats on the ends of the pitch had been booked up already, and a bulk of seats on the side close to each corner flag were also taken. I was forced to sit on the side of the pitch, which I wouldn’t usually want, so I considered where the linesman would be so I wouldn’t be blocked by him for anything, and chose the closest spot I could to the corner flag, which was about level with the top of the penalty box. Not ideal (especially for right-footed strikes), but it was the best I could wish for under these ridiculous circumstances.

Having spent a couple of hours catching up with the diary, as well as some minor amounts of post-match editing from games gone by, I went out the pitch, stepping carefully down the wet, slippery stairs down the corner of the stadium and down onto the wet turf. I found my seat, which had another photographer’s bags strewn all around it, without consideration for anyone else but himself, and asked him to move things so I could put my gear down, like everyone else would want to sooner or later. I decided not to venture over to the benches pre-match, as I knew how tight the match seats would be and didn’t want to be the last to sit down, so I shot the team line-ups from behind, and got a couple of nice frames out of it.

As the match got going, the seating became tighter and tighter…I was sat on the edge of my seat, just to give myself enough space to shift from looking one way down the pitch to the other. I had a lardy Brazilian sat to my left and a left-eyed Japanese sat to my right, so I was squashed right in, with little room to breathe. As I turned to my right to look up the pitch, I couldn’t see the right hand edge of the far penalty box for all the lenses in the way, and as I looked to my left, I couldn’t see the corner flag, despite how close I was to it…cramped and horrible.

I’d chosen the end without the linesman in front of me, and it was also the end Brazil attacked in the first half, so when they scored 1, then 2 goals, I was able to get frames on both, and the first cele came my way which made up for the crap working conditions we were all experiencing.

In the second half, the possession stats stayed the same, with Brazil dominating at the far end of the pitch. Chile came back a bit, but with nothing threatening, and it finished 3-0. I shot stock for most of the second half, with some nice frames on Julio Cesar, the Brazil goalkeeper, and breathed a sigh of relief as people headed back to the Media Centre at full time, leaving me room, peace and time to speak to Meggy on Skype before heading back there myself.

I sent a total of 20 images from the match, and was finished long before any others in our car, so I headed out into the lobby and chatted to Meggy for a while longer, until the laptop battery gave up. I knew 6 weeks on her own wasn’t going to be easy, and it was nice to chat for such a long time, as I’m usually being rushed out the door for being the slowest wirer, and then wanting to chat to her as well! We got back to the Lodge at about 1am, nipping into our favourite garage along the way.

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