South African Diary: Day 5
Rain! After the beautiful, completely un-winter like weather in Durban, we woke up to wet and windy conditions in Cape Town on Monday.
This wonderful area of South Africa, dwarfed by the magnficent Table Mountain - surely one of the most impressive natural features in the world - has a habit of changing its climate at the flick of a switch. Indeed, one of our drivers said Cape Town can experience 'four seasons in a day'.
Not that the players minded as they stepped out at the Athlone Stadium - smack bang in the middle of the Athlone township - for an up-tempo session of fitness and ball work.
The Athlone Stadium is a football stadium first, as opposed to Newlands or the ABSA Stadium (formerly Kings Park) in Durban and a flatter, greener playing surface was welcomed. The soft rainfall (I call it perfect 'football rain') gave a nice zip to the suface and, if nothing else, reminded us what we've been missing back home (sorry!).
Glenn Hoddle and Gus Poyet faced the press afterwards and it was back to the hotel for lunch for the players.
Most of the staff, meanwhile, were whisked off to the lovely surroundings of the Vergelegen Winery about 25 miles away in Somerset West for a function with the 2010 Bid Committee and ambassador Gary Mabbutt and sponsors.
After a few speeches, including one from our chairman Daniel Levy, guests enjoyed a five-course meal and the chance to taste the wine Vergelegen had to offer - I can report here that temptation didn't get the better of Glenn Hoddle, John Gorman and Chris Hughton, who had another training session later!
A local group of musicians played classical music and songs from musicals when suddenly, one number (I'll show my ignorance here by admitting I don't know what the tune is called, suffice to say it's the one from the famous Cornetto advert) was accompanied by a wonderful voice. We all thought it was off a backing tape but no, it came from the Kaizer Chiefs' press liason officer on the Chiefs' table!
Never one to let a challenge go, John Gorman waved the musicians over and promptly struck up a version of 'Danny Boy' with backing vocals from Glenn and our press officer John Fennelly to great applause.
We were shuttled quickly back to the hotel and departed for evening training at 6pm and our first look at the famous Newlands Stadium.
A quite magnificent box of a stadium, Newlands doesn't have tall floodlights and, at night, you could almost drive by it without noticing. Of course, this is one of the most famous stadiums in the world and host to the British Lions success over South Africa in 1997.
Once inside, it is very, very impressive and the lads were delighted to encounter a better surface than Durban. This was another hi-tempo work out with a full-sided game on a shortened pitch to conclude.
The lads then headed back to the hotel for their evening meal while Chris Hughton and Anthony Gardner were whisked off to Supersport's Cape Town studio and a live slot on their football show 'On The Ball'.
Then is was back to the hotel and rest before Tuesday's game against Kaizer Chiefs.
From Paul Miles in South Africa