The joy and despair being at the World Cup

England fan Mike from Baldock is experiencing the World Cup first hand in South Africa.

TAKING in the colour and atmosphere of the World Cup in South Africa is Mike Taylor from Baldock.

Along with his brother Chris and three friends, he arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday morning in time for England’s opening match against the USA.

“The sea of colour and smiling faces told me that we had arrived to The World Cup and we were to be part of history in the making,” said 45-year-old Mike who originates from Stevenage and works as a marketing executive at MBDA in the town. He has been following England to World Cups and Euro Championships since France ’98.

After borrowing a car, they made a traffic-delayed four-hour journey which should have taken 90 minutes, arriving just outside Rustenberg with an hour to spare before the England/USA kick-off.

In the stadium, “I was taken by the number of England fans as we had heard that USA had brought thousands, but I think that 40 per cent were South Africans draped in George crosses supporting their ‘second’ team – England,” said Mike.

“The game kicked off, within four minutes Gerrard had put us in front, a great move. Then the boys started to lose their grip, unfortunately. That’s exactly what Robert Green did on the stroke of half time! The second half brought more frustration and when the final whistle went there was dejection from the 11 players and 25,000 England fans. The Americans acted as if they had won the final.

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“The England players trudged off, it said it all. We left the stadium as if we had lost and the post mortems began.”

On Sunday they were up early and off to the airport for a flight to Cape Town.

“The worries and fears of carjackings and muggings were all distant memories as we are quickly realising that this is a lovely country with lovely people,” said Mike.

He was looking forward to 10 days taking in Italy v Paraguay, England v Algeria and Portugal v N Korea. But the “rain and lots of it” brought a new dimension to the trip on Monday.

Mike returns home on June 25 – along with the others, his brother is staying out there for his 40th birthday two days later – but they will all fly out there again if England make the final.