Monday, June 7
England became the first national team at the World Cup finals to comfirm that they will definitely NOT be donating a shirt to this project.
I guess an England fan cycling and hitch-hiking 6500 kilometres across Africa is expecting a bit too much asking for a signed shirt.
The answer from the English FA was rather predictable and sounded remarkably like a cut and paste job:
"As you can imagine we receive a significant volume of requests of this nature and it is not possible to please everyone.
As such The FA has a charity policy which we re-evaluate every year, and these are our chosen partners that we seek to assist as much as possible."
Monday, June 7
Yesterday's stadium accident in which dozens of South Africans and Nigerians were injured is easily explained.
The match between North Korea and Nigeria was played at a small, non-World Cup stadium with next to no security on hand. Having already attended a match in Zambia where free match tickets were handed out to the local community I have experienced first hand how the nice gesture of free admitance creates excitement, huge queues and a potential stampede.
The moment that many of those queueing outside think that the stadium is close to capacity they begin surging forward in the hope of getting inside before the gates are closed and they remain locked outside the match.
Yesterday's accident is understandable and easily explained. This same scenario will not be played out during the World Cup. Those attending matches will need to pass through three separate security cordens.
It is also worth noting that the stadiums in South Africa are as good as if not better than those we are used to in Europe's top leagues.
Friday, June 4
"Peter, do you know any nice bars where we can get a decent bite to eat and there is a nice mixed crowd?"
Ten minutes later our taxi driver pulls up outside Sunrise, in the edgier end of the Rustenburg suburb.
As we jump out of the car, and the freezing cold Joburg air hits us, we spot a lone white guy, aged around 50 and wearing an England shirt, stumbling around the car park. Maybe I am imagining him.
The pub isn't quite what we had expected. We are the only whites in it and, initially, it looks a bit on the rough side.
Sure enough though it is a great little find with the pre-requisites of good food and beer and a mixed crowd all satisfied. It is easy to see why they call this the 'rainbow nation' - the friendly crowd includes Nigerians, Indians, south Asians...and one very drunk English bloke.
'Blackburn', as he likes to be called, arrived on thursday and is staying in a guest house over the road from the pub.
"It's a bit wild 'ere, ain't it?" he comments in a broad, working class Blackburn accent.
"Are you from Clitheroe?" I ask him, remembering a good friend I used to know from the Ribble Valley.
"No, but I was in prison there."
It turns out that Blackburn, aged 49, is at his sixth World Cup. He is very, very drunk and keeps kissing Bjorn on his bold head every time the topic turns to him having cycled to South Africa from Norway.
"You must be f###ing mad," he slurs. "That is f###ing amazing. I love you."
Blackburn passionately recalls his favourite World Cup, Mexico '86, and brushes off the news that England captain, Rio Ferdinand is out of the World Cup:
"He's f###ing crap anyway."
Blackburn is good value. He is the very first England fan we have come across since arriving in South Africa, and for that he deserves my recognition.
As the draught Castle slips down and increasingly-poor-games- of-pool are played, Blackburn suddenly tells us:
"Sorry, I'm a bit drunk cos me sister got shot in Cumbria."
"Yeah, she got shot by that mad f### in Cumbria. The bloke who killed all those people....she'll be OK, like, but it's sick cos all my mates were taking bets and joking on how long it'd be before I got shot in Johannesburg. It's f###ing terrible. I hope she'll be OK."
Bloody hell, it's a small world. Let's hope Blackburn is right and his sister makes a speedy recovery from her shocking ordeal.
And let's hope we see more of Blackburn in the coming weeks. The World Cup wouldn't be the same without colourful characters like him.
Friday, June 4
Italy looked awful during their 2-1 defeat to Mexico. Truthfully, they deserved to lose by three or four.
France crashed to a humliating 1-0 defeat by China, while Spain only just edged out Saudia Arabia to win 3-2 in world cup warm-ups in the last couple of days.
Are three of the world's highest ranked teams really that crap?
Well, I guess Italy will step up their 'game spoiling' tricks to another level once the tournament gets under way, while Spain have been keen to try out some of their fringe players.
You can be pretty sure that messrs Villa, Iniesta and Xavi would easily have dispatched the Saudis had this been a World Cup group match
France, though, really could be that bad. It just depends which team turns up. If they are not in the right frame of mind then I fancy South Africa and Mexico to dump them out in the first round.
Friday, June 4
In my desire to rush to the Internet and begin emailing the various TV companies and football federations I manage to lock the keys inside our hire car. This is not good news. Not only am I likely to waste several hours sorting this out, but calling out a locksmith is going to set me back about 100 pounds.
Alternatively, I could just ask some of the local lads to help me break into my Toyota hire car...
And so, with metal hooks at the ready, myself and a small team of car park attendants and self employed car washers begin the task of trying to break into my car in the middle of a shopping mall.
"These old Toyotas are pretty difficult to break into," one of the young lads tells me as he gently slides a half-metre long metal hook down the inside of the glass on the driver's window.
The car was properly locked so there is no way of cranking the doors open or forcing the windows down with the palms of our hands.
But, one of the things I have learned during my time in Africa is just how ingenious the Africans are; how they are able to find inventive solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
It comes as no great surprise then when one of the lads manages to hook his metal rod around the inside door handle and to force open the driver's door.
After just a couple of weeks in Joburg I have had my car broken into.
I never imagined I could be so pleased about this happening!
Wednesday, June 2
Yesterday was the best day to date for the number of people visiting this site.
Thank you to everybody following the progress of this project. Please continue to check my blogs whenever you can as the more people following us, the more attention the site and the project gets from the media.
The largest number of followers is in the UK. Here is the latest top 10 by city or town in England:
9. Herne Bay
Please encourage your friends to log on to this website and of course:
Tuesday, June 1
Just got word from Maximilian Geis of the German Football Federation that the entire German World Cup squad are signing a shirt for us.
This is brilliant news for 'The Shirt 2010' and, of course, for the refugees!
Thank you Germany!
More Than A Game will be officially released on itunes on April 15. I encourage everybody to please download the title track or the album. 50% of the revenue goes directly to our project and will enable us to put money directly into worthy causes along our route and to help build our 'fans' embassy' in Cape Town for all the supporters at the World Cup to meet and learn about what we are trying to do.