South Africa. June. Itâ€™s a perfect winterâ€™s evening at Durbanâ€™s newest stadium.
The white-shirted striker collects a short pass in the centre circle, turns his marker with a killer turn of speed, beats two more defenders on his way into the opposition penalty area and hammers a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of South African goal. Game over!
This snapshot could be a preview of what England fans are praying to see during the 2010 World Cup. In fact, it happened almost half a century ago. In June 1963, to be exact. During the second match of Tottenham Hotspurâ€™s end-of-season tour to South Africa. The game took place at the newly constructed Kingsmead stadium, which has now been replaced by the awesome Moses Mabhida Stadium, purpose built for this summerâ€™s World Cup.
In Kingsmead stands that evening was Roger Jones, a young Spurs fan celebrating his 16th birthday as his grandparentâ€™s guest. â€œIt was Jimmy Greaves rather than Jermain Defoe or Peter Crouch who scored the wonder goal that night,â€ recalls Roger. â€œIt was the second of his double in Tottenhamâ€™s 5-2 win.
â€œI remember feeling shell-shocked at the start of the second half when Spursâ€™ Scotland keeper, Bill Brown, could only palm a 30-yard cracker from local hero Les Salton onto the crossbar. That left ex-Blackpool right winger and Stanley Matthews understudy, Brian Peterson, to slide the ball into an empty net.â€
While Roger fretted, the Spurs players just looked at each other and shrugged. A minute later, Terry Dyson cut in from the left wing to equalise. Three minutes later, it was 2-3 as Jimmy Greaves weaved his magic.
Forty seven years later, Roger â€“ now living in the UK â€“ is heading back to South Africa for the World Cup in pursuit of more football magic. This time, however, heâ€™s mixing business with pleasure as co-director of Go-Concierge, a specialist sports travel company dedicated to making the 2010 World Cup as smooth, safe and memorable as Tottenhamâ€™s glory, glory night in Durban.
â€œI set up Go-Concierge with my son, Gareth,â€ says Roger. â€œHe was born in Durban and like most South Africans, heâ€™s passionate about sport. Heâ€™s been living in London for the last 15 years, so he also knows what England supporters expect when they follow their team abroad.â€
Commenting on preparations for the opening game on 11 June, Roger says: â€œI was in South Africa a few weeks ago, and the place is buzzing. We were at the Moses Mabhida stadium to see South Africa beat Zimbabwe and the place makes Wembley look like a Legoland exhibit. With 100 days to go, everything is shaping up perfectly. As the South Africans say: â€˜Bring it on!â€™â€
And safety? â€œWe understand that most of the supporters coming to South Africa will be stepping into unfamiliar territory and South Africans acknowledge their concerns,â€ says Roger. â€œSure: travel is all about new experiences. But weâ€™ve got the global expertise and local knowledge to make those experiences as secure as possible.â€
Smart operators like Go-Concierge have moved quickly to secure a supply of top-of-the-range minibuses that are on standby to drive supporters to every match or fan park and back again â€“ whatever the time of day or night.
Between matches, you can join day trips to a choice of attractions such as safari parks, beaches, vineyards and golf courses before going on to some of Africaâ€™s best bars, clubs and restaurants without the worry of navigating unfamiliar streets after a few drinks.
Whatâ€™s more, every supporter who books up with Go-Concierge can get a South African SIM card or rented handset at discounted rates; a list of useful contact numbers; and the option of renting their own personal GPS tracker. Meanwhile, their folks back home get a helpline in case they need to contact their absent loved ones at short notice. All this and back-up from the Go-Concierge support office, its SA-born drivers and concierges.
Just be there!
Check out the full story at www.go-concierge.com and see what Roger, Gareth and the team are doing to make your 2010 World Cup the smoothest, safest and most unforgettable experience of your life.
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