The Springboks at Twickenham
Andrea Zanin was there when expat South Africa descended into the stadium to will ‘home’ into the atmosphere…
I spot the green and gold from across the escalator. Fans. Like me. Metres apart but closer than the space suggests. One mind, one goal. The Springboks at Twickenham.
The ballie sitting across from me on the train, with his faded badge-encrusted bokke hat has been to hundreds of games – he’s lived through the Groot Krokodil and his wagging finger, he’s waved his flag at Ellis Park when Francois Pienaar lifted the trophy and vloeked when the lights went off again.
The lady behind me chats to her boo about a holiday in Greece and Jennifer’s new boyfriend. Jennifer’s a bit of a ditz and it’ll be interesting to see what this new guy’s like. Carol says she’s going to the wedding (by the way) and she’ll be able to suss him out but there’s also Facebook, and Tanya says…
The Ballie leans over to his son, ensconced in the land of teenager, and taps him on the shoulder signalling “next stop”.
We spill out.
“Faf had better bring his F—en A-game today. Moodie at 13…” says the guy whose keen punditing is interrupted by an attempt to exit the station with his driver’s license. Wrong card, bru. Someone’s been klapping the rum and cokes, hey.
We walk. Braai smoke is like catnip for the adrenaline-infused excitement that has been building for days at the prospect of the Springboks and the All Blacks in real life. The flippen game of a lifetime. My sentences are suddenly perforated with really bad broken white-English-girl Afrikaans – I start saying “lekker” a whole bunch, calling the boys “okes” and saying “klap” way more than is necessary.
My brother scores free beers within the first five minutes of stadium life. The self-serve’s not working, a friendly woman comes over to help him (must be a saffa) – turns out she also went to the Doors nightclub in Joburg back in the nineties, which warrants some sort of reward. He’s the only one drinking.
We sit down on some concrete steps to turn my face into the South African flag. We miss the Springboks arriving but it’s okay – we’re in time for the All Blacks.
By 7:29pm the stadium is rammed.
We shout Nkosi Sikelel’. Then the Haka. By 7:48pm my voice is gone.
There is a vibe. An electricity. It can almost be plucked from the air, like a Kamehameha sphere – pure energy. Because expat South Africa has descended in heart, voice and spirit into, onto and around the walls of the stadium. Willing home into the atmosphere.
Children of the sun and soil. A birthright.