Howard Webb – A Yorkshireman at Soccer City

Many congratulations to local boy and colleague of my brother  – apparently, “you wouldn’t mess” – Howard Webb for being awarded (I believe this is the official technical term) the job of refereeing Sunday evening’s World Cup Final in Johannesburg.
As the Sheffield Star (ah, the memories…) reports:

The 38-year-old former police sergeant, from Rotherham, has been chosen by Fifa’s referees committee.
It makes him the first Englishman to make it to the World Cup final since 1974 – when the job went to Jack Taylor.

Webb and his assistants, Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey, will officiate in the match between Spain and Holland at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.
Webb hung up his helmet and took a five-year career break from South Yorkshire Police in 2008 so he could concentrate on refereeing.

It might not really seem like a big thing with so many star players on show in the Dutch and Spanish sides, but I guess that for a referee, this is as big a gig as you can get and given that only 18 men before him have ever had the honour, he’s joining a pretty elite group.

I’m sure he’ll do England proud – much more so that that shower that flew home a couple of weeks ago.
[Please note that this line may be deleted on Sunday evening if deemed necessary]

Nice work, Howard.

Thank you, Cape Town

Spotted at the Netherlands v Cameroon match the other night:

Even the fans whose teams aren’t here are having a good time.

And I can see why. I gave the Cape Town Fan Mile a go for this game and I have to say that it was superbly organised and there was a great vibe along the whole route. Great shows, bands, bars and more.
You can see my photos of the evening on flickr.

More positivity

More positivity from big names and big sites as the South African hosting of the 2010 World Cup continues to impress people worldwide.

Shari Cohen on The Huffington Post:

To say that I have been blown away at the hospitality South Africa has shown the rest of the world would be an understatement.
If South Africa accomplishes nothing more on the playing field, it will still have won as a host country. I am a cynic, no doubt about that. And yet I have to admit, I’m a little teary just writing this because I leave for home next weekend and I will be leaving a little piece of myself here in South Africa.
I just hope I have learned enough to bring back a little piece of Ubuntu to my homeland, where perhaps with a little caring and a little water, it will take root as naturally as it does here, in the cradle of civilization.

And Mayor of London, Boris Johnson in The Telegraph:

When they look at themselves in the approving mirror of world opinion, South Africans of every race agree that the first African World Cup is a joyous success, and that success breeds confidence. The rand is rising. South Africans who left for Australia or Canada are starting to return to a country whose banking system largely escaped the recent crisis.

The sheer number of visitors – about half a million – will help to open the eyes of the world to South Africa and its potential for trade and investment; and get this – crime, the crime that has been supposed to be one of the drawbacks of living here, is down 90 per cent in central Cape Town, and there has not been a single serious incident of crime or violence in any of the fan parks.

And while we’re on the subject of things positive and South African – don’t forget that you could win yourself an 8GB iPod Nano by simply ‘liking’ Joyanne Goodenough’s photographs on the whyilovesouthafrica facebook group.

You can get the full story here, but if you don’t have time, then here are the two quick links you need.

  • Firstly, go here – the whyilovesouthafrica page – and click LIKE at the top – and then…
  • Secondly, go here – the photo (although she also has two others in the competition) – and click LIKE underneath all the tagged names (next to ‘added 22 June / comment’).

And that’s it.
So – in the spirit of Ubuntu (and with the possibility of winning that iPod) – go do it and tell your friends to do it too.

Thanks Nix & Carol

And then…

A couple of days ago, I had a bit of a pop at Karibu restaurant for their really terrible performance – particularly as we are trying to impress the huge number of tourists during the World Cup (aren’t we?).
And then… I realised that there is more to impressing the tourists than tacky Waterfront restaurants – stuff that we humans can’t actually mess up. I took the family (tourists, over here for the World Cup) for a trip around the peninsular, which is a pretty touristy thing to do. And if you are a tourist over here for the World Cup (and I know you’re reading this blog in your ones) then you should do this.

We took in breathtaking vistas, saw a breaching Southern Right Whale at Llandudno, admired the crashing waves at Misty Cliffs, sat watching a troop of baboons near Cape Point and then went to see the penguins at Boulders.
And that was where things really kicked off – if you pardon the footballing pun.

Because while we were enjoying the penguins – not in a carnal sense, obviously – there was a little commotion out in the bay.
Dolphins. Hundreds of the buggers:

And instantly, people were staring away from the funny little waddling birds (who took the opportunity to try some unobserved flying practice). “Ooh! Dolphins! Look at the dolphins!” they exclaimed in various different languages.

But my brother was looking at something else. Probably because he doesn’t understand Italian or Japanese for “Ooh! Dolphins! Look at the dolphins!”. My brother was looking at the two, possibly three Killer Whales which were following the pod of dolphins, presumably eating one or two every now and again.

Yes. It’s a whale, but it’s very Jaws, isn’t it?
Der dum. Der dum. Der dum dum dum, Der dum dum dum… etc.

The tourists were in their element. Hell – I was even quite impressed. The penguins were annoyed – after all, this was their gig and no-one was watching anymore. But generally, the mood was one of excitement and enjoyment.

I hope that the tourists have made it away from the tacky Waterfront restaurants. I hope that they didn’t have to queue for too long to get up the Mountain and that they took the time to go and see what else the Cape has to offer. Because, if they did, they’re coming back – and they’re bringing their friends, family and even their neighbours.
So never mind, Karibu. Maybe you haven’t ruined everything. There’s enough elsewhere to make up for your deficiencies.

Probably. Just.

P.S. Winelands/Peninsular photos here.
P.P.S. Portugal v  North Korea photos here.

The Big Game

Tonight’s the one that many people in Cape Town have been looking forward to – England v Algeria. After a hugely disappointing performance in Rustenburg last week, England will need to step it up at the Cape Town Stadium this evening and I’ll be there to cheer them on. You can follow the evening’s action on Twitter and I’ll get some pics uploaded in the morning after what will undoubtedly be a rather late night. Potentially even later if England get a win and we head back to the Waterfront to down some few beers.
I may even try and do a live blog from the stadium.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the first week of my local radio sport as on-the-spot World Cup correspondent has gone really well. I have been given a dodgy nickname and I have made several incorrect score predictions. The host of the show I’m doing it on has been doing some investigations and has discovered that the man responsible for importing vuvuzelas into the UK lives a few miles from their radio station. They are now planning a flash mob to descend on his house at 5am on Sunday – horns in hand.
Ag shame.

And with that – I think I’m going to go and blow one (cough) and bring the gees back to Cape Town.