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Manchester United vs Manchester United

by Unathi Kondile / 30.07.2012

Declaration: I played soccer in primary school. I was always skipped or retrenched early in the games. Unforgivably terrible. That was me. So, if you detect a bit of bitterness in this piece, you’re right, there probably is.

It all began when I decided to reply to this status update on Facebook:
“…get your entries in and stand [a chance] to earn yourself 2 tickets to the Manchester United vs. Ajax clash on Saturday. Enjoy the game from the comfort of a VIP box, in true Oude Meester style. Simply email your name and contact number to…”

I replied. And the rest was future. Saturday came. Knowing who our host was for this game a friend and I decided to try out the Park n Ride option. Suffice to say I will never park and ride again. Spent 10 minutes in shuttle which then took us to the nearest train station whereupon we spent 30 minutes waiting for the train to pitch. Did I mention how bitterly cold it was? No? It was bitterly cold. Eventually the concatenation of carriages came along. We got on. Felt like surfing the damn thing. Perhaps that would’ve warmed me up. Disembarked at Cape Town station. Ran in the rain to the Civic Centre to catch a free MyCiti bus. Pushed. Shoved. Pushed. Shoved. Pushed. Eventually we got to the White Elephant stadium. Park n Ride frustration subsided the minute I saw the beauty of this so-called elephant, up close. Why anyone would want to build RDP houses on it is beyond me. I pushed through an eternity of red devils, to get to the entrance. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people queuing to get into the elephant were draped in red paraphernalia – all very excited to see “Man U!”

“Double Oude Meester Reserve, no ice, if you would, please!” as I sauntered into Suite 405. Found a seat and proceeded to watch what looked like an episode of Going Nowhere Slowly, in slow motion, on a soccer field.

It was by far the dullest soccering. The brandy eventually became my only saviour from the football inanition. The stadium’s atmosphere also helped as I rose for the occasional Mexican wave. The only action in that game came whenever Matthew Booth got the ball; the whole stadium hummed “Boo-oo-ooth!” Other than that we were literally watching what seemed like a sympathy match. A friendly, literally. Until Ajax’s Van Graan scored, in the 87th minute. The entire stadium erupted, even the ones in red. That’s pretty much when the game started, 90 minutes in. Some Manchester United player called Baby or Bébé quickly equalized. The entire stadium erupted, even the ones in red, again. Even the Ajax players on the field  seemed to celebrate. I kid you not. They cheered, too. Friendlies? I tell you. It was like Manchester United playing against Manchester United fans.

“Double brandy, no ice, if you would, please!” as it sinks in that we were duped. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the people who were waving R350 tickets at the gate, earlier. Mine was R0.00. I must say that stadium cleared out pretty fast. Just one sip after the game and as I looked up it was empty. It was finally time to appreciate Suite 405 and come face to face with the barmen, whom up until then I’d avoided by ordering drinks via the lobola-me-now looking waitresses. Thank goodness for them. The barman, on the other hand, had the air of an altar boy and I suspect he closed the bar on account of us looking like we were having a good time. Look, I can shamelessly say I am huge fan of Oude Meester’s 12 year old. No, not the baldy Benjamin Franklin bottle with gold stockings which we call ixhego in Xhosa ceremonies, but rather the “Jamie Foxx range” as they call it on Twitter. I like that one.

Anyway, the altar boy, closed the altar. And we had to go worship elsewhere.

As we walked out I bumped into musician, Loyiso Bala, whom I thought was going to belch out a “look where you are going!” chorus, in falsetto, but he sang nothing. So we decided to look at where he was going instead. Alas, there was another suite also stocked up with Oude Meesters, occupied by I-am-more-important-than-you types. I don’t think they were aware of our intrusion. And I further don’t think I want to write about what ensued therein. Suffice to say we were with the last people to leave the stadium. As I walked away from the elephant, I couldn’t help thinking: “if we are capable of building such magnificent spaces for soccer, why on earth can’t we build our people mansions, instead of RDP houses?”

Needless to say it was too late to use the Park n Ride system to get home. Instead, I called some sober friends.

Images © Unathi Kondile, or pilfered from Man U’s Facebook page.

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