Wednesday, June 23
Knysna - Port Elizabeth
Camper Van Nick spent the night sleeping in his camper van in Knysna high street and wakes up as rush hour traffic crawls past his window. I leave Robin and Rich to enjoy breakfast at the ostrich egg theme park hotel and set off early with Nick for Port Elizabeth.
The scenery is stunning the whole way with the only exception being Mossel Bay where an industrial complex has been plonked slap bang on the beach front. A huge township stretches just beyond this with dozens of men stood by the roadside hoping somebody will stop and give them a day's casual labour.
If anything some of the views from the N2, passing through the eastern Cape, are actually more inspiring than those on the Garden Route.
After having narrowly avoided running out of petrol in the middle of absolutely nowhere -3 miles worth of fuel left in the tank- we reach Port Elizabeth, an hour later, and park up at the Boardwalk Casino on the seafront.
The Summer Strand district of Port Elizabeth resembles parts of Bournemouth with hundreds of hotels and guesthouses just yards away from the beach.
England flgas cover the restaurants, bars and the entrance to the casino. Pre-match Rustenburg was a shopping mall; Cape Town a marine waterfront; Port Elizabeth is slot machines and roulette wheels.
I meet a cyclist from Slovenia on the way to the stadium. Turns out he cycled from Nairobi to here and flew into Kenya on exactly the same day as me - April 9. We wish each other good luck and with that I don't spot another Slovenian during my long walk to the stadium.
The atmosphere inside Port Elizabeth stadium is top draw. England, as ever, have taken over the entire stadium, which is a sea of red and white.
England look as bad as they did against Algeria in the opening exchanges and our right back, Glenn Johnson, decidedly suspect in the defensive aspects of his game.
But as Defoe scores England are lifted. It is not a brilliant performance, by any means, but the players do seem to play with a sense of urgency and...passion. You can see that by the way they celebrate the match-winning goal and the way they embrace collectively at the final whistle.
Truthfully, England deserve to win by two or three but the last minute clearance by the English defence and the 93rd minute goal by the USA against Algeria prove just how easily things might have turned out very differently for all four teams in this group.
Back at the casino far too much alcohol is consumed by all present, although all the subsequent silly behaviour is good natured. You'd think England were through to the semis to listen to everyone. Instead we have a very, very tough second round match with arch-rivals Germany in Bloemfontein on sunday.
Many England lads won't be attending though. They assumed England were going to finish top of the group and had already booked flights home for sunday, thinking we'd be playing on saturday back in Rustenburg. School boy stuff.
Several verses of "We're not going home, we're not going home" don't go down very well with some Heathrow-bound supporters.