Day 3 : Algeria v Slovenia

BIG BROTHER HOUSE

Day Three

Its six fifty A M.

All the house mates are asleep.

After going to bed at 5, Matthew’s alarm goes off much to the annoyance of the others.

Tensions in the house are rising.

The house mates are getting tired of car logistics.

Someone has eaten all Catherine’s Aero bar.

The Mexicans are angry that they have to come to the lodge everyday for their transportion and the English photographers are refusing to drive to pick them up.

The ever fluctuating exchange rates result in the housemates having to cough up even more Rand to pay for their lodge.

Todays task is split into two.

Some housemates have to drive to Polokwane after only two hours sleep and do a good and professional job whilst others have the simple task of getting out of bed and driving 45 minutes up the road to Pretoria. Should housemates fail the task, there will be no rewards at the end of the week.

———————

In all seriousness we are getting on OK. I am probably looking after the Japanese too much and assuming the others are OK with arrangements.

We go in convoy with an Austrian driving a Mexican whilst I drive 3 others out west to Polokwane.

After 20 minutes of trying to join Austrians with Mexicans – the best we can come up with is an Apfelstrudel washed down with Tequila. We comment on how we are at game yesterday and how many of us had no idea about the oh so obvious goalkeeping blunder made by Robert Green.

Two hours later we stop for fuel. One thing for sure in South Africa is to stop when you see a petrol station as you never know when the next one will come along. Those in the back are woken up with Algerians blowing their car horns, South Africans trying to compete with Vuvuzelas. Early Sunday morning is not a peaceful one. We then freak as someone spots some South Africans offering Algerians cigarettes and lighting them on the petrol forecourt!

The amazing price of £22 to fill up the motor is paid and I start drinking 2 litres of orange juice as we carry on the journey.

Algerians in Mercedes cars are overtaking at over 160km/h with people hanging out of the cars waving flags.

I was impressed with the Polokwane Stadium back in December. I remember the drive and the TomTom is made redundant. We park on a dusty area, thank goodness it is not raining. We see the stadium on the horizon. Again I get angry at why English stadiums are not built like this.

Polokwane is the reason I like my job. Most people who go to South Africa visit Cape Town and Johannesburg. I am the only member of the party who has been to Polokwane before. It is like a typical American tourist who sits beside you on a 747 and starts spouting out that they have visited London, Oxford and Stratford and have “done” the UK. I always question if they have been to the Republic of Salop, Borth in Wales, Devon, Cornwall and Grimsby.

Polokwane is off the tourist trail. But the whole world knows of it’s whereabouts due to World Cup wall charts.

Word gets around that a German photographer has had his lap top stolen from one of the venues. Everyone is on guard once more.

It is so sunny and bright today. I feel the African sun on my face but it is still chilly. I will one day reply to Facebook messages from those back home commenting on me having a holiday in the sun sign off their best wishes in the hope that I have not run out of sun cream.

My lens breaks down upon getting it out of its bag. I run back to the media tent (well more a marquee that is the size of a small town) and see the camera technicians who lend me a new lens. This is what Nikon and Canon are there for, to help us out when we are in need.

The first half passes me by. I’m supposed to be shooting lots of action for a particular client. Everyone assumes a World Cup game will be a classic encounter like Italy v Brazil at Spain 92. I shoot about 800 frames and only get 7 frames with two men and a ball in.

The light is glorious. I spend half time shooting shapes, shadows and signs, relieving the boredom of the first half.

I can not get BBC Radio Five Live or TalkSport on the internet. The BBC won’t let us licence payers listen to our own radio station when out of the country. I drink a bottle of Coke Zero to give me a caffeine injection. I don’t do expresso or coffee like the Italians. The warm sun on my face is a catalyst to send me to sleep.

Out of no where, Adam comes and sits down beside me. Today at the game there are under 35 photographers. We have plenty of space. We both comment that this game is dull. It is great to know someone else is dead bored too. I encourage myself to kick in to action and try and get something visually nice from this game. What is going on on the pitch won’t pay the bills. I have to look for something else.

Eventually Slovenia score. This time I actually witness another goalkeeping blunder but it is down the other end. Just as when I have a great game, I know that I can put this one behind me and start again tomorrow.

Finally the referee ends the torture and we get to go back to the media centre to try and make a terrible game look good. It does not work, but there are no complaints from my clients.

My pictures are shocking. I am supposed to be a professional but you can only shoot what is in front of you.

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My lens has been rebuilt. The technicians have no idea on why it went wrong but assure me it is OK now.

As always I edit and send my pictures. Eventually we all hit the wall and decide to leave and get back.

Polokwane disappears over the horizon as the sun sets. South Africa is such a beautiful country. It is a pity a bunch of photographers do not have the time to document it. After shooting all afternoon, the last thing we want to do is stop and take even more pictures. Our brains need a rest from looking through a lens and thinking in Roman Thirds.

There are no long tail backs today, but the Toll booths soon empty our wallets. Myself and Adam remember fond stories of when we worked together at EMPICS. I drink another 2 litres of orange juice. As the minutes tick by, the distance home decreases and we find ourselves back on the N1 without too many problems.

Thankfully the three and a half hour journey goes quick.

We visit a pizza place in Randburg. They make the best pizza ever in my book. Slowly day by day everyone is coming to the same conclusion. The owner remembers me from last year and is grateful for our custom.

The South Africans assumed every bar, every shop and cafe would be overloaded with fans, but the fact is that Randburg is probably more quiet than ever due to some South Africans moving out of town as they are worried about football hooligans.

Back on the Big Brother sofas, the other photographers arrive back from the Ghana game in Pretoria. It turns out the laptop thief was a local volunteer and we assume the temptation of seeing a brand new apple mac computer was took much for one of the natives.

A tense situation is diffused as Chris and I complete todays logistical challenge of arranging car transport for tomorrow. The Japanese need picking up from Bloemfontein and the others need to return back to the airport to get their names as additional drivers on the hire car insurance. So far I have driven 1900KM and its only day three. I love driving but I will need a break at sometime.

Today was supposed to be about documenting Algeria and Slovenia for the British press in anticipation of their group games against England. I think I have failed.

I have not thought once of being tired today, I suddenly remember some members are missing in our house and realise that the Germany v Australia game is taking place in Durban. They have a long 6 hour drive home.

I go to bed at midnight with the knowledge my head can hit the pillow for at least 8 hours.

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5 responses to “Day 3 : Algeria v Slovenia

  1. Don’t know how you find the energy Matthew, but superb. Reminds me of my stint @ Mexico ’86. You’ll like this I reckon http://bit.ly/b0CvYm and Gazza’s been on the lash again http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/10309517.stm Cheers, Mike.

  2. Good blog.did u go to cape town and durban recently?i am from randburg

  3. I’m enjoying the daily updates,brings back good memories of France 98 and japan 02. Good luck for the rest of the tournament,andrew budd

  4. Great report – thanks! Makes a change from reading all those boring stuff on the footie sites.

    P.S.”I can not get BBC Radio Five Live or TalkSport on the internet” How stupid is this?? You can get illegal webcasts of almost any football game on the net, so what’s the problem in broadcasting the games??? What art they afraid to lose???

  5. Martin Aspley

    makes France 98 sound like a Sunday afternoon drive matt! happy shooting..

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