Wel­come to the Smarmy Army

Cape Town lures se­date sup­port­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ALEX DU­VAL SMITH

THE ENG­LAND sup­porter – that much-feared smirk­ing lout best kept the op­po­site side of a riot shield – has been trans­formed. In South Africa, he is a gent and though he still or­ders pints, he is likely to be seen with a plate of tapas on the side.

London hedge fund trader Mark Thom­son, 33, was tuck­ing into a light lunch at Cape Town’s Wafu res­tau­rant in Mouille Point yes­ter­day, watch­ing the sun sparkle on the At­lantic. “Eng­land fans? I haven’t seen many. There was a bit of chant­ing at the Water­front shop­ping cen­tre ear­lier – but gen­er­ally ev­ery­one is very quiet and well be­haved.”

Thom­son was plan­ning to see three matches in nine days, in­clud­ing last night’s match.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Dave Lewis, one of 12 Bri­tish po­lice of­fi­cers at the World Cup, con­firmed that mem­o­ries of cities trashed in Eng­land’s foot­ball past seemed dis­tant. “The Eng­land fans here are re­ally nice peo­ple. They are not the type of peo­ple who go to foot­ball matches on Satur­day af­ter­noons at home.”

He said this had some­thing to do with the fact that cheap air­lines like Ryanair and easyJet did not fly to South Africa. “This ex­plains why we are not see­ing the un­der-25 males who drink too much and be­have anti-so­cially.” Some English fans agreed. “The cost of get­ting here – at least £3 000 (about R33 000) – and the plan­ning ex­plain a lot,” said Steven Rodgers, who was treat­ing him­self to the trip af­ter 28 years in the Royal Navy.

His friend Kevin Perrin, a sur­veyor of lifeboats from Stock­ton-on-Tees, said: “You see peo­ple trav­el­ling with their part­ners. They are hav­ing a hol­i­day at the same time, see­ing the sights. The fans are quite a bit older than I had ex­pected. I sup­pose the young lads can­not get the four or five weeks off from work that we will need if Eng­land get through the group stages.”

Nigel Sud­dell, 32, a mo­bile phone technology ex­pert from Berk­shire, said: “The prices are the same as in London. The at­mos­phere is great be­cause peo­ple re­ally love foot­ball.”

How­ever, he left his jacket in a bar the other night and didn’t get it back. “But that would have hap­pened in any coun­try,” he said.

South African im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials have sug­gested that en­hanced border con­trols have kept trou­ble­mak­ers out.

Foot­ball Sup­port­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion spokesman Kevin Miles con­firmed that few fans have seen ev­i­dence of South Africa’s record crime rate. “We have seen a cou­ple of phones go and the odd wal­let.”

Miles’s fed­er­a­tion – in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Bri­tish For­eign Of­fice – of­fers sup­port and in­for­ma­tion to the 11 000 Eng­land fans who bought their tick­ets through the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

He said Joburg’s traf­fic and Rusten­burg’s re­mote­ness had stood in the way of Eng­land fans gath­er­ing in large num­bers there.

“Cape Town is more like a Euro­pean city – more what we’re used to.” – The In­de­pen­dent

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.