While waiting for the midnight bus to Pretoria, I popped into a local tavern. Tinashe hooked it up. Steak, Castle Milk Stout, the usual. I noticed he was rocking his Uruguayan key chain. La Celeste had popped in a few days before.
I will leave the keyboard to Tinashe to tell you how he feels.
"Considering the performance of the Uruguayan team I felt so enthused to place my hopes for the World Cup to the Uruguayan team. Above all being a team hosted or should i say residing in Kimberley, I scrutinised them and realised their determination in the World Cup. This alone festered me to wholly support them all the way through..."
Here's a short moment with a dapper elder at "Packs" last night. He is representative of the local feeling for Uruguay.
(My apologies for the segment being shadowy, particularly when I tried to show the world his super spats. I have a limited equipment, so I do the best I can with what I have.)
The elders tend to come correct when quaffing at "Packs". I trust you can sense the style of the man.
I will spare you the interviews with bold pronouncements of an Ivorian victory.
The lady in the back kitchen who came through with the TBone and the roll had no doubts about the outcome. With Sven stinking up the joint how could it have been anything but a Brazilian victory?
I dug a little deeper in Kimberley last night and found "Packs" in the Galashawe neighbourhood. "Packs" is a "I'm Good, if You're Good" kinda place. It promised to be the perfect local spot to watch Brazil v Cote d'Ivoire on a cold night in deep central South Africa.
The regulars were feeling the Ivorians, though a few wise souls were stuck on Brazil. Uruguay flags were all up in the house. All the folks I spoke with are behind their adopted sons.
"Packs" proved to be perfect football viewing because 60s Soul took precedence over inane match commentary. I watched the whole match without hearing a word about the Premier League or the Champions League or Manchester United.
Occasionally the ladies stood up danced, with some making the expedition up on to their tables. Brothers had a hard time keeping their eyes on the game!
Hendrik guards the Uruguay team bus while they train. He was disappointed by Bafana's recent performance, but has been impressed by Uruguay's team spirit.
This is man responsible for ensuring Uruguay have green grass in the City of the Big Hole. (I had conducted a great interview with Milton, a member of the ground staff earlier, but the blowing gale ruined the sound. Sorry Milton.)
I had a little kick around with these Afrikaner kids. They were trying to peek through the fences to see the Uruguayans training. They like their football. Not a Rugby ball in sight. I think I witnessed progress. They were not so enthusiastic about Bafana, now their chances are slim. Everyone loves a winner. Like many folks in Kimberley, they are behind Uruguay now.
I arrived in Kimberley on Friday night. Already, I have been shown immense hospitality. Folks here are proud to be hosting Uruguay.
Kimberley is proving a wise choice for La Celeste. The place resembles the character of provincial Uruguay. You could be in a Fray Bentos, Paysandu or Salto. It's a low key, simpatico place. It's dead central South Africa, yet completely off the radar screens. There are no World Cup games here. It's perfect for training and tightening up your game.
I was the only character with a camera sniffing around Uruguay's training ground yesterday. It's the home of local Rugby team, the Griquas. It does not feel very "World Cup". The ground is set in the middle of a dusty clay car park. There's a lad selling bags of oranges on the side of the road. That's it. Not much else going on, except the ground staff working on the pitch. Uruguay stay in a standard 4 Star Hotel in the City, then jump on the bus to training. It's as it should be.
I grabbed a few words with Diego Forlan. He was super friendly and spoke like a Mancunian. Álvaro Pereira, the other goal scorer, was also agreeable. I interviewed Álvaro, but I have decided against uploading the video. The team is in a great space right now. I do not need to be messing with it. Diego Pérez was gracious. And a big thanks to Loco Abreu and Walter Gargano for posing for photographs. Edinson Carvani has a bit of Beatles about him.
There was a special moment also yesterday. The great Alcides Ghiggia pitched up to training. Uruguay's connection to the World Cup remains fundamental.
The cold snap pushed Bafna Bafana off many of the front pages the morning after the Uruguay match. Despite the ink of defeat, some South Africans still believe.
Charlon and her Uncle Hamid were in no mood to give up until they had had a crack at the French. Hamid predicts a 4-0 win!
I shared food, football and fine conversation with these two fine Ethiopian gentlemen. They are regulars are the "Hole in the Wall" bar in Central Pretoria. They were proper and wouldn't let me pay for my bevy. Like the Ethiopians ladies I met earlier in their day, there is no doubt about their allegiances. Hats and Scarves tell a story.
South Africa is home to many African migrants and refugees. The relationship is complex. What I have noticed is the emphatic support Bafana receives from those communities. I will say more on this shortly. Here are two Ethiopian refugees I met in Pretoria. They have strong feelings for South Africa's football team.
There was much said about South Africans heading for the exits with 10 minutes to play in Pretoria. (I was close to several Australian Uruguayans who 'politely' inquired as to why they weren't staying to support their team at precisely the moment they needed to be supported. I concurred aloud. Had they not heard we were notorious for conceding late goals?)
The story that was not told, however, was the Uruguayan stay behind. 2,000-3,000 Uruguayans celebrated La Celeste's beat down of the Bafana Bafana with a few beats of their own!(Check out the mobile ringing about 36 seconds in the recording. That was Producer Ben of The Guardian trying to get through to me.)
The pre match Pretoria atmosphere. The lush Loftus section of town got a taste of football supporters and their songs. Here's an old South African football classic brought to you by local lasses on their violins and a groovy brother on cello.
Bo-Kaap is a glorious community on the slopes of Signal Hill. It is famous for it's pastel houses and Malay residents. You can see pictures of the historic colourful houses in every guide book. But Bo-Kaap also has it's late 60s - early 70s architecture. It is this mash of narrow streets abutting tenement abodes that give Bo-Kaap the most inner-city England feel you will find in Cape Town or perhaps anywhere in Africa.
The cornershops. The kids playing ball on the street. It's all here. You could easily be in Blackburn, where it not for the spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the home cooking. No disrespect to Blackburn's "Holes" or it's "Hot Pot", but you won't find a better feed than a Biryani in Bo-Kaap.
I met Reda for the first time minutes before I interviewed him. He invited me the watch the Slovenia v Algeria match at the home of his mother. There is much talk about the clash of football codes in South Africa. The Bishops Boys I met showed me there were also Waterpolo dimensions. Here in Bo-Kaap,'mischievous' members of Reda's family signaled their preferences by switching the football over to the WWE! Like a left back arriving on the line, they messed up what would have been a glorious 'other football' movie.
The match was dire, as you all know. The wrestling would have been a better option. The highlight came during half time, where Reda's Mother fed me.
This is for all you football foodies. This was my half time feast. Folks in Cape Town really know how to feed their football guests!
Mum was a little camera shy, but her dishes did all the talking.
There are no football teams of any description in Bo-Kaap. But back in the day, Bo-Kaap was a hot bed of local football. Rugby and Cricket dominate here now. One way to judge the legacy of the World Cup will be on how the organized game returns or develops in neighbourhoods like Bo-Kaap.
There were plenty of kids having a kick around on the streets when I passed by Bo-Kaap. The streets are great football schools, but boys and girls need a pitch to play on.
I saw the perfect football field, just below the Malay community on the lower slopes of Signal Hill. Sadly, the goalposts were dead on the ground.
Cape Town has done a terrific job constructing the Greenpoint stadium, bringing other local stadia such Philippi to standard. I could not have asked for more welcoming hosts. Folks "Feel It". But Cape Town must not forget the places where the little people can play and take their game to a higher level.
Who is going to win the game today? For the answer you must make a pilgrimage to the Cornershop Phophet. Here's Yassen prophesying a Ghana victory in their first game!
But Yassen is only a part time Prophet and Shopkeeper. He covers the Bawa Shop for his father, as dutiful a first born son as you will find. His full time job is as a Cape Town Taxi Driver. He loves his job as much as he loves his Bafana Bafana.
Yassen is also a storyteller in the great Irish tradition, no surprise given his roots. He shared some tales with me, including the one where he took Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger around the Cape Town Flats at night and the occasion when Selma Hayek insisted he join her for dinner.
Cape Town is rich place because of its communities, crates in cornershops and compassionate characters like Hassen. I will miss it. I look forward to returning one day.
There had to be a place. Hipsters don't do Burger Bars Full of Beer Drinking Big Bellied Germans, nor Ghetto gatherings. Forget the Fan Fests too. And sitting on a crate in a Cornershop is cool, but... So where have Cape Town's Hipsters been congregating for their fix of football?
The answer can be found in on old warehouse in the Woodstock section of town.
Here I (and my three Nigerian accomplices) watched the USA vs England care of a crystal clear high definition projector, while sitting on a comfy couch, surrounded by saucy students.
You have to hand to the Hipsters! They got Adidas the sponsor the whole joint. They will be showing every World Cup match here. It's free to enter and there's lots to do. It's cool being cool in Cape Town. A big up to Ricky (the man behind the whole operation) for the impromptu tour of the facility!
This is the spot I watched most of Ghana v Serbia match yesterday. The Bawa Shop. Yassen laid down some cardboard and a cushion on an old Fanta crate, opened me a bottle of Stoney Ginger Beer (on the house, of course) and we talked about football and much more. I interviewed Yassen, but he also had a few questions of his own. (I will upload the exchange as soon I can, as well as many other interesting weekend interactions and vignettes, WIFI permitting.)
I have a road trip to contend with now and some writing responsibilities for local and other media here, so apologies in advance for any interruption in service. And if anyone from The Guardian is reading, expect a Uruguay preview ahead of "Youth Day" fixture in Pretoria. I also hope to be with the Uruguay squad in the days after their Bafana fixture.
I am about to travel across South Africa to attend the match. It promises to be emotional occasion, and not just because of the football. The game kicks off on "Youth Day", a most significant South African National Holiday. June 16th will mark the 34th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising.