The Boys in Bloem               <--Prev : Next-->

While we are busy worrying about where to obtain our next loaf, those folk South of the Border are all in a state of shock about their World Cup tragedy.

All that money spent on hundreds of thousands of tickets to watch the Boks, all that money spent on memorabilia, regalia, t shirts and togs in honour of World Cup, and now they have obviously all been thrown in the trash as the cricket grounds have been in mourning and comparatively empty since the Boks left the W.C. Arena

Black signs on street poles state , "It's Official" we are now n longer permitted to talk about the World Cup". !! The whole nation has gone into mourning !! A tactless mention of the game brings looks of despair, thoughts of suicide even, the dress of the day is black and its not cos they are supporting the kiwis !!

BUT, with the demise of the World Cup hopes for the South African team, one nice thing has emerged from the fracas...... now they are all supporting US... yes ... little old us... Zimbabwe !!

Last Saturday He Who Must Be Obeyed made a slight detour in his life and dragged me off to watch the Boys in Red playing against New Zealand in Bloemfontein (of all places.)

Accompanied by ardent Zimbabwe cricket supporters Jane and Angelo, we formed a large part of the "Babwe Army" which is the Zimbabwe equivalent of the Brits Barmy Army !!

The grounds of the Manguang stadium were quiet and desolate when we arrived, there were more police and security personnel than spectators. A handful of loyal Zimbabwe supporters to the left of us , a handful of loyal Kiwi supporters to the right of us, not a single Orange Freestatesman to be seen !! (Remember they were in mourning !!)

A m of desultory gentlemen from India, a coupe of curious Sri Lankans, but then as the pace hotted up, as the Zimbabwean team scorched forward from almost certain defeat to a possible victory, those sad but true South African cricket lovers emerged from the woodwork and crept funereally down to the Bloem stadium to enjoy the game for the game's sake despite the fact that their BOYZ had not made the Super Six !!

And because they had to support SOMEONE, they started to support the next best thing, the team from across the border - Heath Streak and His Merrie Men !!

We gathered around us a motley bunch of cricket lovers. Gerhardt (with the interesting vocabulary and an incredible capacity for beer) a native Bloemfonteinian who attached himself to us along with his pal Derrick. An eclectic set of Englishmen who complained of the lack of shade (Until some wag in our party pointed out there had been a lot of shade in Harare after all !! )

A colourful assortment of gentlemen from the Sub Continent who after six or seven ciders became ardent Zimbabwe supporters. Stoic folk from Durbs, Tearful Transvaalers, Capetonians too, all shook off their World Cup lethargy and actually started to enjoy the game for the game's sake, and echoed our enthusiasm for the feisty little team with the giant hearts , from North of the Limpopo.

The food was bad, the beer was good, the game was sensational and even though we did not win, our team did us proud and warmed the heart of Bloemfontein as only Zimbabweans know how.