Euro2008 Spain vs Italy #3: Thanks a lot, Eastwoods Entertainment Lounge and Willowbridge Dros Barman.

Continued from the second instalment

So, quite a bit of time has elapsed – almost a month and a half, in fact. The final of Euro2008 has come and gone (my team won, of course, at last), and I really want to blog about other things now; but I can’t very well leave the story hanging in mid-rant, can I?

So, here’s a quick run-down of what transpired after we left Tygervalley Centre on that fateful night in June: First we drove up the road to Eastwoods. Eastwoods is a sports bar and restaurant. Eastwoods was closed. It’s a sports bar. But it was closed. Are you seeing the problem yet, or should I repeat that again? Apparently the oddity of this situation was entirely lost on the manager(s), because exactly one week later, on the night of the final, they were closed too. That’s right. The biggest sports bar in the area failed to open on the night of the final of Euro2008. (And people wonder why I’m not always brimming with enthusiasm about living in the northern suburbs…)

So in a greater huff than I’d been in at Tygervalley, I persuaded Paul to go back down the road to the Willowbridge Dros.

We arrived at the Dros, pleased to see that there were still a few cars outside, and a couple of people in the restaurant. We rushed up to the big wooden doors, and found them… locked. Not to be deterred, we rushed around to the glass doors in front. These too were closed. I gestured to the barman that we’d like to come in and watch the rest of the football, but he shook his head and mouthed what I initially took to be “Weird clothes.” I thought that was a bit of an odd thing to say, since I was wearing jeans and a fairly ordinary long-sleeved top, but then Paul pointed out that it was actually even weirder that that: apparently the barman was saying, “We’re closed.” Totally bizarre, I know.

By this time I was ready to break down his flimsy-looking glass doors, but fortunately good sense prevailed. Also fortunately, there was actually a TV outside the restaurant, showing the football, with the sound turned up nice and loud. So we made ourselves sort of comfortable and watched the rest of extra time as well as the nailbiting penalty shoot-out (I do mean that literally – I chew my fingers during penalty shoot-outs and games in which the Proteas have to score 435 runs to win) outside the Dros. It was very kind of them to let us watch their TV, without expecting us to buy anything. That barman ought to have the price of my potential double-whiskey and Paul’s potential beer docked from his pay, though. I mean, would it have been such a big deal for him to come out to us and say, “Hey, we’re actually closed, but if you guys just want to have a couple of drinks and stay till the end of the football, we’re fine with that, since we’ll BE HERE ANYWAY”?

Anyway, I got to see the game, my team beat the Italians, and it all turned out okay. I watched the semi-final with a real flesh-and-blood Spaniard (at Beleza – leaving nothing to chance), and then we returned to the place of our former rejection, the Dros at Willowbridge, for the final. This time they actually let us sit inside, which was nice. We had to buy drinks though. 😉

Euro2008 Spain vs Italy #2: Thanks a lot, Tygervalley Big-screen Operator.

Continued from the first instalment

Paul and I grabbed our laptops (like the nerds we are) and headed down to the Keg at Glen Garry centre (the closest restaurant with TV screens). There were three other people there, not counting the waiters – so not really much of an atmosphere, but not to worry, they had the soccer playing at least (with French commentary, but that was fine). We ordered coffee and politely asked the waiter what time they were closing. “10 o’clock…” he said – somewhat sadly I thought.

Some quick kindergarten maths told me that we’d best finish our coffee and find a new spot during half-time. Which we duly did. After considering our options (all three of them), we decided to just go and grab a table at Tygervalley’s promotions court area and watch the soccer on the big-screen there. The sound isn’t usually that clear, but I thought it would be good enough. When we arrived there, we discovered that the soccer was only showing on the small TVs dotted around the area, and the big-screen was playing the IRB Junior World Championship instead. Okay, fair enough, rugby, northern suburbs, I get it.

I figured that as soon as the rugby was finished they’d switch the big-screen to the soccer too, and then we’d have commentary (because there was no sound whatsoever coming from the small TVs). Gosh. Was I ever disappointed. The rugby finished, eventually the post-match celebration and awards ceremony finished too, then a few ads played (while I was biting my nails to the quick, watching the clock ticking and thinking, “It’s going to penalties, it’s going to penalties, and they’re going to switch these TVs off at 11pm, they are, they are…”).

Then, after the ads, another programme came on. Now I didn’t actually know (and call me ignorant here, by all means) that India and Pakistan played rugby. Yes, rugby. Well, apparently they do, and to prove it, we were treated to a wonderful showcase of their skills on the big-screen. Just to give you an idea of how riveting this might have been, Wikipedia tells me that India is currently ranked 84th in the world (out of 95 teams) – they tried to qualify for a spot in the 2007 World Cup, but their 22-36 loss to Kazakhstan put paid to that dream. And this powerhouse Indian team (whose captain is none other than Nasser Hussain, apparently – talk about being an all-rounder, gosh) beat the Pakistanis 56-3 last time they met. But I digress.

The India-Pakistan festival of rugby was followed by a lengthy insert on women’s skateboarding. Seriously. I could not make this stuff up. After that (and at this point I couldn’t take it anymore, so we left, but more of that later) there was a stunning and fascinating documentary on Men Walking Across Rocks In Hiking Boots.

The problem with this (apart from the glaringly obvious fact that they were not actually showing the quarter-final of a major international sporting tournament), was that the sound from the big-screen was turned up really loud. So I was watching a teensy game of soccer, accompanied by loud Pakistani rugby players, loud women skateboarders, and loud men Walking on Rocks, in turn. If you’ve ever tried to watch something with a totally incongruous soundtrack – burly black gumboot dancers with the theme song from the Sound of Music, for example – then you’ll understand that this was somewhat messing with my concentration.

So, in a fit of pique, as soon as the game had gone to full-time, I said to Paul, “We’re going to Eastwoods,” and stormed off to the car. And in the next instalment you can find out why that didn’t work out too well either…

Euro2008 Spain vs Italy #1: Thanks a lot, SABC.

I’d been looking forward to last night’s Euro2008 match between Spain and Italy all week. Spain has been my team since the 2002 World Cup, and Italy is always my second team (because, seriously, no-one in their right mind actually expects Spain to progress past the quarter-finals of any tournament, so it seems prudent to have another team to support in the latter stages). My heart is entirely with Spain though, and of course I wanted to see them break the June 22 QF curse last night.

Now I should point out right upfront that we don’t have DSTV. I know… how can one be a sports supporter without it? Well, it’s really difficult, to be honest. I don’t get to watch F1, I miss all the overseas cricket and most of the rugby, and I’ll tell you that I don’t get to see a curling match very often either.

Anyhow, this was not supposed to be a problem last night, because SABC3 was showing all the Euro2008 QF games… or so I thought. But, in a masterful repeat of the Rugby World Cup debacle, when they decided that it was not entirely necessary to show that silly, pointless other semi-final after all (despite having listed it on their schedule), they failed to broadcast last night’s game. Yes, despite having listed it on their schedule.

Apparently what had happened was that they weren’t going to be showing Saturday’s game, until all of South Africa complained (because all of South Africa – except me – was supporting the Netherlands); so they decided at the last minute to show the Netherlands/Russia game, and instead not to broadcast last night’s Spain/Italy game. Without changing their schedule.

(An aside: Dear SABC, the nice thing about having one of these new-fangled “internet-sites”, presumably, is that you can change things in real-time. Could you get someone to look into this, just on the off-chance that there are more like me who actually believe the things you put on there? Thanks.)

I only found this out at 20h30, when I switched the TV on and discovered that a movie was starting. My mother tells me that she realised something was up when she heard the continuity announcer warning that there would be “violence, language and nudity” in the next show. Plenty of violence in soccer of course, if the contorted, pained facial expressions of the Azzurris are to be taken seriously; and with Marco Materazzi playing, I suppose bad language is a fair likelihood too. But nudity?! No, I think I would have noticed. So… not soccer then.

So Paul and I grabbed our laptops (like the nerds we are) and headed down to the Keg at Glen Garry centre (the closest restaurant with TV screens). Aaaand… you’ll have to wait for the second instalment to find out what happened next.