Day 12 : France v South Africa

Allez Les Bleus!

It’s an amazing 12 years since I was in France covering the France 98 World Cup. Today the French could be possibly going home early. First I had to get to Bloemfontein.

Up at 8, I shot out of bed. Any hint of closing my eyes would have resulted in me not awaking until mid afternoon!

Another ear popping journey lead me back into now this familiar town of Bloem with another bottle of 2l of Clover Krush Orange Juice Blend ending up on the car floor.

Car Park 3 saw me park in the same space as the last match. Today was more of a routine and I already found myself going through the motions, even before I had got my cameras out of my bag.

I got a ticket behind the goal, seat no 22 today.

I meet some great French photographers and discuss both France and England going home this week. I was shocking at French at school. I was equally as terrible at college. However 3 weeks in Belgium following Simple Minds, weeks and months in France doing French football and I’m “OK” at French. I have not been with the Germans for 2 days now and I had no problem in launching in to French. I just wish I could be like this when speaking Japanese!

Found some great South African fans for the daily Wolves shirt picture for the official Wolverhampton Wanderers website.

This was South Africa’s final throw of the dice. I knew of the French team going on strike, Anelka walking out but to be honest I have not had time or the will power to follow this World Cup like a soap opera. Gorgeous crisp sunlight lighting up the stands at the Free State Stadium saw the pitch in shadow for the start of the game.

After returning to seat 22 after doing the team groups, some bloke was in my seat with half of my gear flung all over the place. An argument ensued. It was my seat. He claimed it was his seat. He showed me his ticket, I showed him mine. We both had space 22 on match ticket 34. Obviously a duplicate. He had a spot I didn’t though. I was more concerned where my little carry case containing 48GB of Compact Flash cards were. A FIFA official came over to try to settle the feud. I got another chair from a TV cameraman and sat by a HD TV Camera. The FIFA man was great and did not mind!

I still however had to collate all my belongings which had been scattered off what was my territory!

The nice Estonian FIFA man, eventually found my yellow card case 9 seats down from seat 22! It was 15 minutes before I could concentrate and start shooting. Not the ideal start. I was beginning to tire – probably from the 38 hr drive days before. Today was hard work. I had to find pictures.

Sometimes the pictures come to you and this job is easy. Today was not. Many many many of my colleagues are moaning that they are taking bad pictures. I feel glad when they share their experiences as I am having trouble too in coming up with the goods.

South Africa went 1-0 up. Wrong End! Well – right end technically, but France won the toss and swapped ends.

Then 2-0.

The buzz around the stadium reminded me of when France were doing well in France 98. I was happy with the Vuvuzelas today. It was South Africa playing.

My colour balance was shocking first half. The colours did not properly kick in until the second half when the sun set and the sky turned black once more. Did I have this trouble on film? Probably not.

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Word comes through that Mexico were losing. That resulted in both teams being eliminated from the competition.

There was a sense of resignation. No real emotion. Resulting in boring pictures.

The only images I got to represent that the home nation were out was were of the fans.

Trying to edit, my mind was not focussed. I was still mad I had missed the opening section of the game and assured myself that I would have got more material if I had shot the full 90 minutes.

Listening once more to Katie Melua’s The Flood, I chuckled when a journalist tripped and spilt a bottle of water on his laptop. A priceless Alan Partridge / Monty Python moment. From being down in the dumps I was in high spirits – I had to be I had to drive back 300KM+ to Middelburg.

This time with 3 others, we headed off in the VW back South. More roadworks, more concentrating as the road literally disappeared out of sight when it dropped into valleys. Kind souls letting us pass and lorry drivers indicating when it was safe to overtake.

More roadworks resulted in us all getting out for a walk in the wilderness. The driver of a white KIA in front got out. He was from London driving to Port Elizabeth for the England game tomorrow.

Got to Middelburg in OK time. No time to check the TV. No time to check the hotel. Certainly no time to check out the hotel

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