WORLD CUP BLOG: My dream trip to the World Cup Final

In her final update from South Africa, our blogger Hayley Roach tells how she grabbed a ticket to the World Cup Final - and watched it with Howard Webb's dad.

Sunday, July 11: World Cup Final Day

It was the night before the final and I had accepted that I wasn’t going to get a ticket to the final despite my best attempts and prayers! 

And then beep beep, a text message arrives asking me if I can still make it to Johannesburg tomorrow for the final because my friend had got me a ticket. Yippee, at the 11th hour I got the best news in the world.

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So I immediately went on line and hired a car. I sent a few messages to some friends about accommodation for after the match but everyone was full. Never mind, I thought something will turn up.

I didn’t really get confirmation even about when and where to collect the ticket from but that was all minor information, I knew once I got to Joburg things like that would become clear.

So Sunday morning, I got up, packed my toothbrush and my neighbour Bronwen offered to give me a lift to the car hire place to collect the car.

Now when I booked it online the night before I was told I had to collect the car from Mafikeng Airport as the local office was closed. 

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So Bronwen and I drove about 40 minutes out to the airport only to find that it was closed and they had in fact opened the other office instead! So we drove all the way back and the office in town is two minutes drive from where we live - TIA!!

I finally get on the road about 10.15am.

The journey as always a complete pleasure, open roads, no traffic, and as I headed for the bright lights and big city that is Johannesburg,leaving rural Mafikeng behind me, I passed the game reserve and I saw a family of giraffes—thats what I love about South Africa.

I smiled to myself as it was a clear reminder that I live in South Africa and not Rotherham and how amazing that I was on my way to the watch the World Cup Final!

As I was on my way, my friend called me to tell me the ticket collection arrangements, it was a bit vague but I then had to call someone else to arrange to meet him to collect the ticket. 

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I arrived at my destination at 3pm approx after the usual navigational challenges I have when I go to Joburg.

I parked up and then simply had to sit and wait for a man I had never met, and I didn’t know  to give me my ticket for the match! I was beginning to think it was like some kind of crazy tv challenge!

Needless to say this man and me eventually found each other and I then set off towards Soccer City with the match ticket safely in my possession.

It took me over an hour and half to get to Soccer City, traffic was slow as you can imagine but there was a great friendly vibe about the people in the cars, everyone was smiling and greeting each other, flags were waving it was quite nice and i quite enjoyed it.

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I was proud of myself for not getting lost and getting there was fairly straight forward, but it was starting to go dark.

The sun was setting and I was on my own and I had no clue as to where to park.

As we approached the stadium the main road was obviously closed but Ii didnt see any signs for any car parks, so as I turned at the police cordoned off zone, a guy knocked on my window asking if I needed parking.

I said yes Iwanted secure parking. So he jumped in the car and we drove to his house where i parked my car. 

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He then walked me in the direction of the stadium which was about 25 mins walk away. We swapped phone numbers and I agreed he would meet me later to walk me back to the car.

I was impressed at the efficiency of the security at the stadium, lots of entry points for people to go in so there were hardly any queues. 

Luckily the numbering on the ticket matched the numbering system on the gates and the blocks (this didnt happen last year at Confederations Cup!) so I actually found my seat without any trouble at all.

I bought myself an over priced hot dog and beer and i was seated ready for the start of the closing ceremony at a record 6.10pm!! (The ceremony was due to start at 6.30pm).

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It was at this moment I did my best to absorb the whole occasion.

As I looked around the stadium it was all because my friend organised me a ticket. 

I cried slightly as I remembered my own personal journey to get there and was ultra thankful to my friend for making the last leg of the journey (the closing match) possible.  It was the perfect end to my dream.

The closing ceremony was simply awesome, I don’t know how else to describe it.

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The lights, the sound, the choreography, the fly past, the fireworks, it really was pure brilliance.

It was difficult to imagine at that point that this was the closing ceremony of the tournament.

I sat in awe during the ceremony as my phoned beeped with a million messages from friends from around the world all of them saying good luck in the match as they were watching from whichever corner of the world they were in from Cyprus to Canada from Rotherham to Iceland! 

Their own messages of congratulations and pride also struck a chord.

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And just before kick off I got to share in one of those great moments in life, not only was I at the World Cup Final in South Africa watching one of my friends in charge of the match, but I was sat next to the proudest man on the planet.  For me it was a complete honour.

I felt I didn't have the right to be there, like I was somehow imposing, but I was and I got to share that great moment. In the end I was actually glad I was there.

Yes it was Howard Webb who organised me ticket and it was his dad, Bill, I was sat next to—and alongside him the dads of his assistants, Mike Mullarkey and Darren Cann.

Not only was I ultra proud to have played a small part in delivering the first World Cup in Africa, but I shared it with three very very proud fathers.

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Who stood there whilst the national anthems played, completely in awe of the moment and the occasion that their sons were in charge of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final. I felt very lucky.

Bill was delighted to hear that I was also from Rotherham and I thought at one point we weren’t going to see any of the match because we talking so much about people and places we knew! 

I know the match wasn't what any of us anticipated at all and I think FIFA should fine the teams for bringing the game into disrepute, especially the Dutch—I think their behaviour, discipline and respect was out of order.

Maybe eventually, someone will make a statement, not about the referee on how many yellow cards he issued but about the outrageous behaviour of the so-called best players in the world.

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I can’t believe for one second that any of the Dutch players watching that match over again would look at those challenges they made and think that they were within the spirit or the rules of the game.

Howard did amazing job in my opinion and he can only manage a match dependent on how the players play.

They make bad challenges and play dirty they suffer the consequences.

I don't see how he can be blamed by the Dutch, they didn't lose the game because of his decisions, they lost the game because they didn't score and they simply weren't good enough.

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They had the chances and didn't take them. Their unprofessional behaviour should be highlighted.

The Dutch players lost respect for the game and for the referee.

I am amazed some of them didn't get more red cards.  

Anyway, that’s it for me, the end of the dream and the end of that ambition.

Time now to look at leaving South Africa the place that I’ve called home for two years and three months and start another chapter. 

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“KE NAKO”, That means “It’s time” and when I saw that in big letters on the big screen at the closing ceremony ..I took it personally...a message, I thought, a sign?

No one said it was going to be easy following dreams and ambitions but two years ago I set out alone and came to South Africa with a heart full of hope, a body full of energy and a mind full of optimism.

I’ve taken the knocks and I’ve survived, I’ve been let down, I’ve been surprised and I’ve been blessed to have the friends I have and along the way some people have excelled themselves in extraordinary kindness and others have simply taken from me and made me question their humanitarianism.

After the final match I went to the FIFA Post- Final Party and met up with a few friends—it was an evening of mixed emotions, some people glad it was over, some people already planning to start working on 2014 Brazil, some people ready to go on holiday and some people really struggling to believe that it was all over.

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Although the tournament here may have only just finished the news is still full of FIFA World Cup stories and the country is enjoying congratulating itself for a job well done.

Yes, the country exceeded all expectations from everyone around the world and managed to deliver a really great tournament.

It’s been a challenge, but I did it, I was there and I played a small role in making it happen.

I feel like i have lived and breathed the World Cup for the past two years, it’s been everything to me and it’s been a big part of why I moved to South Africa in the first place, so yes it’s weird to me thats its all over.

As I drove back from Johannesburg on Monday, the reality of that was hard to take in at times.

It’s a time in my life I will never forget and it has truly been amazing. 


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