Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A rotten night in Rustenburg

A rotten night in Rustenburg.
England 1:1 USA, Rustenburg, South Africa

A dismal opener. England failed to beat a USA team inferior in all departments except that goalkeeper, which sadly counted on the night.

It was not Robert Green's almighty hash which denied England victory. It was heroic defending from the muscly but limited American centre-back duo of Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu, key interventions from the underrated Michael Bradley in the middle, but above all England's lack of penetration.

But enough of the game; you all saw that. Feel lucky you were watching it on television instead of having to endure a nightmare journey to and from the game in a middle-of-nowhere place called Rustenburg.

Based less than 90 minutes away, we took over twice that reaching there. The only route to the host venue consisted of a single lane highway and with no rail service or scheduled bus services, car hire was the only option for the majority of the 38,000 present.

Despairing drivers took to using the hard shoulder while a police car stopped one of the opposing lanes to create an extra lane for those trying to make kick-off. Ridiculously, the local organisers had kept toll booths functioning instead of making an exception last night, creating another needless bottleneck.

But the travails on the approach roads were nothing compared to the gridlock around the park and ride. Over two hours after final whistle we were still stuck in a traffic queue waiting to leave, and all this in a venue holding only 38,000.

Add to that the plunging temperatures, no stadium scoreboard, the running track around the field and England's poor showing and you can imagine how glum I was.

The policing here has been low-key which is fine. And the locals are wonderfully hospitable people. But with the stunning lack of public transportation and inadequate road network, I have to say South Africa was the wrong choice for fans. Rustenburg was too hard to reach easily, and even the picturesque tourist town where I am lodging has no buses or taxis!

I have never experienced such transport chaos at a game like last night's. Never again, FIFA.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Shai said...

Dear Sean, I'm a South African residing in Cape Town and am saddened to learn of your experience and to hear the Afro-pessimistic conclusion.

It is now 10 days since the ENG-USA match in Rustenburg and I'd like to know if you've had an opportunity to experience other matches and venues since and if you still feel the same way, i.e. that 'South Africa was the wrong choice'.

I've attended six matches so far, in the more central venues of Johannesburg (both Soccer City and Ellis Park), Pretoria (Loftus) and Cape Town (Green Point) and have found each of them to be run far more efficiently that I would have anticipated with many visitors commentating that our facilities are world-class.

There is a variety of public transport options (I found the free Metrorail trains to Soccer City which take 20mins to travel from downtown JHB to just outside Soccer City to be the best option) and that local authorities have been forward-thinking in easing the burden of ticketholders on match days.

I hope to see a more positive report from you in the near future.

Shai Harman

GJD said...

a rotten night in Rustenburg...Yeah, well maybe pplz would experience such problems if they decide to drive there themselves.

When you exit Rustenburg, you were supposed to stop at a central point just outside the city.

There was a massive car park!
Buses took everyone, from there, to the lovely stadium. I'm sad to hear that you haven't fellowed the game plan. Now you will be upset. Don't go up a one way in another country.

Our hospitality is almost free, its up to people not to drink too much, and then missing the beauty of it all...haha, bro, you are nasty:)