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England vs South Africa Fan Diary

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.

 

Two England fans travelled to the African continent to see their national team play South Africa in a friendly match in May 2003. This is a 5 day diary account of their journey.
 
Wed 21st may
 
Up for 7.00am as we are doing the schools visit with mark perryman. I had brought over 200 football shirts & individual items with me after an appeal. We didn't travel with the group on the open top coach (by the way the coach looked magnificent decked out in flags & bunting of our national colours) we went in a car with john & sandra haig (also from rotherham like us) accompanied by our own tour guide & headmaster from the school we were going to visit.
 
At the school we were took into teddy's office (teddy was the headmaster). I opened my bag & got out a few shirts this mans face was incredible, you would have thought i had given him a winning lottery ticket. My mum & dad had gone to doncaster market & spent about £25.00 on pens, felts & crayons. I handed these over, by this time all the teachers had left there classrooms & had come to meet the group. On showing the teachers the felts (some of them were the magic one's where they change colour) they were amazed. At this moment i was quite emotional at there gratitude. As for william well you'd have thought we'd brought david beckham with us he was mobbed.
 
Me & john answered any questions the kid's had on football or on english way of life. One particular question caused a stir. 1 little boy asked how much does mr beckham earn a week? My reply was 900,000 rand (which is roughly £90,000) the kid's let out the biggest gasp i have ever heard!!!! The kid's put on a zulu style chant ritual in our honour, this was amazing, then teddy brought out both the boys & girls football teams decked out in the football strips that we had taken over they looked amazing.
 
In the afternoon, we were treated to a south african style bbq & a feast of football by the local kid's of all ages. I took will's boots with me & his england kit, when he ran on to the pitch to join in i was so proud of him, he looked amazing ( & was the only white child on the pitch), he joined in a 5 a-side game at his age group his side lost 3-1 but william got his sides goal & the cheer that went up from the english was brilliant. His 1st international goal, i'm hoping he's going to be doing it at senior level in the not to distant future.
 
That evening we got back to the hotel. albert one of the s/a trainers presented william with a signed shirt from the team,(i was chuffed to bits for our young un) we in return presented every player & official with a official match badge to commemorate the game. It was about 5.30pm we were going out so i put william in the bath, after getting him dressed he asked if he could go out on the corridor to play football, I said it was ok as long as the bedroom door stayed open. After a couple of minutes in the shower i could hear the ball smashing against the wall. i jumped out of the shower & just about to tell william off when i was greeted with radebe, bartlett & two off the younger players smashing the ball up & down the corridor. Lucas said there was no problem & to go & finish my shower they would look after him, i just burst into fits of laughter it really was bizarre.
 
Went to joe cool's. At last all the ugly boy's were together (except chairman Alan lee) gmh, tobin, banner, flash, brian humphries, simon ward, swanny, nicko, swifty & son, steve nottingham, rob didd & nicky & nick murrell + the 3 girls jean,fi & sally. It was a great night rounding off one of the most rewarding days of my life.
 
Thurs 22nd may (MATCH DAY)
 
Up bright & breezy as always. There was the soweto news hung on the back of the door, it had a great picture on it of mr mandela sat in his chair holding lucas radebe & david beckhams hand. I took the paper down to breakfast & got lucas to sign it for william personally. Had breakfast with the group & headed down to the beach to meet up with the ugly boys. On getting to the beach tobin & nic b had informed me that wiiliam had been on s/a national tv playing football with the kid's.The beachfront outside joe cool's looked amazing st george everywhere, so i thought i would go & get our flag, left william on the beach with the lads they had got a game on!!!!!! On returning to the hotel my mum rang me (& informed me that radio hallam from back home were going to contact me in the next few minutes to do a live interview), she was right they did ring & i did the interview.
 
At 2.30pm we met up with mark perryman at our hotel the elangeni to do raise the flag. The shirts he had had done were brilliant & again mark had done well having had a special one done for william, off we went by coach to the ground after much confusion we were finally allowed in the ground to do our stuff. It was one mad rush to get our precious flags up in good positions so our folks back home knew were we were roughly standing. I put mine up underneath the scoreboard it say's KITCH & SON on it. We laid out cards at both ends, george crosses for us & cards supporting south africa's 2010 bid for the world cup for them. We were joined by the south african kid's coaching staff from the day before, 2 of them wanted my son's hand in marriage, i informed them that they would have to join a very long queue.
 
When we had finished the ground draped in george cross looked magnificent, the atmosphere was electric & most important the behaviour of our fans was of the highest standard. Fi brought out england strips, we promptly changed & we were ready. The noise was unbelievable, national anthems of both countries was treated with respect & after that we were off. I had made a card for william with hello mum on it we were on the front row & hoped his mum would see this but unfortunately she didn't & william was missing his mum.
 
The game wasn't brilliant but we got the result william was gutted that his hero david beckham had broken his hand (liane had text me). On leaving the ground we had a very large mixed group of boys & girls. We all got back to jo cool's in one piece had a great night.
 
Fri 23rd may
 
Early start today, e say our goodbyes to the south african national team (the group is moving on to cape town, bags packed & in the airport for 10.30am). We arrive in capetown the first apparent thing i noticed was the drop in temperature. Booked in to the holiday inn waterfront & went down the waterfront shopping centre, bought some souvenirs for liane & my 2 girls. In bed by 10.30pm.
 
Sat 24th may
 
Up early and & off we go to table top mountain, we get to the top & cannot see a thing, the weather changes & the views from the top are unbelievable, we come down & decide to go to robben island (where mr mandela was kept prisoner). Me, william & flash had lunch at the sports cafe on the water front, they were re-running the game. I could not believe my eyes a full on shot of our flag before the game & william stood on the fence with his message for his mum held aloft. I asked the waiter if i could buy the tape, he said no but they copied it for us, we picked up the tape on our return to the waterfront.
 
Sun 25th may
 
Our last day, we went shopping to another mall, the weather was awful, raining, got to the airport by 4.00pm met up again with simon ward & sally shefford & watched the barbarians game on tv. Left south africa at 7.30pm with unbelievable memories. Little did me & william realise that it was to get even better!!!!

 

William and Gary Kitching, June 2003

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