Monday 22 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED
Friday night had been another late one!
Saturday morning found me feeling a bit fragile, but there’s nothing a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee can’t do … and fifteen Carbolev, Lyrica and some other tablets – my daily supply to keep me moving!
Last year’s FIFA World Cup slogan was “You can feel it in the Air!” With today’s Tri-Nations rugby international between SA and NZ taking place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, once again you could feel it in the air. Wherever you went, there was a feeling of excitement and expectation.
I decided not to join the others at Old Grey Club for pre-game drinks. That may have been dangerous on top of all the medication. And I didn’t want to end up in a state which I saw on a poster later on: “If found passed out, wake me for the 7’s!” (taking place in Port Elizabeth in December this year!).
So, I got dressed in my green and gold Springbok supporter’s shirt and SA Zuma scarf and lazed around until it was time for Noelene Jorgensen to pick me up at two. Elsewhere, in Ryan Street – a normally quiet crescent where we live, people were arriving and leaving: a buzz of activity in green and gold outfits all headed for the Stadium.
Driving through North End and around the North End Lake, the excitement continued to increase, as did the numbers of people, the music volume and the noise levels. Wall-to-wall supporters – a few in the characteristic black and white colours of the All Blacks, but predominantly green and gold of the Bokke.
We had a reserved parking bay in the precinct of the stadium, so it was a matter of minutes before we were sitting in the Keypak suite up on the fourth floor. It was two thirty – two and a half hours to kick-off and the stadium was still relatively empty. The SA Schools team was playing the French under 19 team. My eyes were on the crowd more than the rugby game.
The hospitality and company in the suite was excellent. Eats, drinks, snacks, chats, singing, music, the teams warming up … and the stadium became fuller and fuller, until just before five it was filled to capacity – 45 000 screaming fans.
And then the moment arrived – the teams came out of the tunnel and took up their places for the National Anthems. The atmosphere was electrifying.
Goose bump stuff and maybe just a tear.
“God defend our free land. God defend New Zealand.”
“Let us live and die for Freedom in South Africa our Land.”
Then … The Haka … drowned out by the crowd singing Shosholoza!
These were moments that were etched in my memory, moments I will not forget.
Eighty minutes of hard, hard rugby and the rest is hard fact and history.
At seven pm, the huge electronic scoreboards told the tale: South Africa 18 New Zealand 5.
But across the land (and across the globe) the stories continued in the streets, the marquees, the pubs, the restaurants, the taverns and the homes into the wee hours of the morning and, indeed, into Sunday, Monday and … as long as rugby lives and death do us part!
We celebrated the win in the suite until about nine. Noelene dropped me off at home and I was planning to go straight to bed. Until Sean BBM’d me from the Club – “come have a drink with us, Dad J”
And, the rubber arm was twisted yet again! Father and Son celebrated our win together – priceless moments!
It wasn’t until one o’clock on Sunday morning that we got home.
Yes, Life’s not All Black. There’s a lot of fertile green and a pot of gold out there. We need to continue to chase it and to defend it when we find it and hold onto it.
When it comes to Life, it’s a matter of
Pause, crouch, touch, engage!