Thursday, June 24
The silly post-match drunken shananigans of wednesday night have left me with a mobile phone full of beer. Where once it read 'MTN mobile' there is now a wet dirty brown tide mark. My phone is Kaput.
There is chaos in the England supporters' ranks. Wherever you look they lie comatosed on the Port Elizabeth beach and on the grass of the BP petrol station. Others stumble around with the mother of all hangovers trying to work out what to do next. Many England that we meet are hastily trying to cancel accommodation that had been booked for Rustenburg - often many months ago. Others face the prospect of unwanted flight tickets to the north and comedy tickets for Ghana v USA. In the case of Robin and I, being disorganised with travel plans (i.e. making it up as we go along) and pessimistic about England's chances has turned cluelesness into a tournament-winning formula.
"I couldn't get rid of me spare England tickets. The Yanks wouldn't pay 50 quid each for them so I found some young local lads working outside a shop and asked them if they wanted to go with us."
"I s'pose they couldn't go 'cos they were working?"
"No, I asked their boss if they could 'ave the rest of the day off. He said yes, paid them their salaries. I were gobsmacked when they told me how much they earn - 12 Rand for a day. Anyways I gave them both the tickets for free and took them to the game. They bloody loved it. One of them was so happy he were nearly crying. I gave them 50 rand each after the game so they could have a beer or some'it."
Brilliant stuff from Blackburn.
The crowd roars as Italy crash out of the tournament to Slovakia.
With Bjorn up in Joburg and me following England around my input to the shirt project and contact with Bjorn have been minimal for the past few days. The big news from the past few days is that the shirt is now up at the Brightwater Shopping Mall in the suburbs of Johannesburg. You can catch images of it here:
The appearance of Bjorn and I on the BBC has also attracted a fair it of attention from both friends and strangers. When you mention the project to anybody out here now, chances are they have already heard about it from the ongoing press coverage. The 2-minute BBC video of the shirt in Cape Town can be watched here:
Make sure you watch it to the very end so you can see just how good the English are at penalties.
I decide to call it an early night in Port Elizabeth. Nick, Rich, Robin and our new friend - Fabio the Swiss Cheese - are all on the wine early doors in celebration of the English advance and the Italian exit. I can't face it and stroll home around 11pm.
Being sensible clearly isn't the way forward though as suddenly, a few hundred yards before I reach the B&B, a Toyota 4x4 pulls up next to me and some local lads start shouting and abusing me in Afrikaans. At least they don't shoot me, I suppose.
With all the ridiculous hype about crime and the general violence in South Africa it says something that my first incident of any kind is care of a bunch of local red necks.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I am a journalist so I understand better than many people how newspaper stories are sourced, written and put out to the population.
That is why it is important to explain something about yesterday's feature that appeared on the BBC website.
The star of the BBC story is, apparently, Justin Walley. The truth though is, of course, that I am just a small part in this project:
It is Bjorn heidenstrom that has dedicated more than a year away from his family. He dreamt up the idea of 'the shirt' and it is Bjorn that spent 9 months alone on the road in Europe and Africa before I joined him.
But this project is much more still than Bjorn and the guy who hitchbiked with him for the last leg from Kenya to South Africa.
'The Shirt 2010' would never have happened if Bjorn's girlfriend and children had not agreed to sacrifise one year away from the man they love. 600 shirts would not have already been collected had it not been for the continued support of vital team members like Ingar in Norway, Steve Hall and David Bright in England and the many thousands who have helped along the way with beds, food and shirts such as the good people of Glossop, Lusaka and Riga.
Without Steve their might easily be 200 less shirts; without David many many shirts would never have been collected; without Ingar 600 shirts would never have left Norway and now stand proudly sewn together in Johannesburg.
This project has been financed by individuals, not by sponsors. Tens of thousands of emails have been sent to football clubs, associations, fan groups, TV companies and newspapers. At least 90 percent of these never even received a reply. When the public reads the BBC story they do not know about the half a dozen people sat by their laptops at 3am on a February morning writing blogs and begging letters in the desperate hope that their actions would eventually lead to great success.
I started this blog by talking about understanding how the media works. The BBC kindly approached me because they are interested in the 'English angle' to the story. They and other British media have taken the 'English angle' of 'The Shirt 2010' because that is what the majority of their readers are interested in, and it is the thing that, ultimately, helps them sell papers or gain readers.
The bigger picture is that Justin Walley is one small cog in this project; one member of a team.
And, yes, we are trying to create the world's biggest football shirt - but we are doing this so that the world's media tells our story and, as a result, enable us to create increased awareness of the plight of the world's refugees.
Thanks to the BBC for their brilliant support. You can read the story here