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Norwich fans head out to South Africa

PUBLISHED: 11:55 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:12 01 July 2010

England fans head to South Africa for the World Cup

England fans head to South Africa for the World Cup

Tens of thousands of English fans are expected to flock to South Africa to watch the Three Lions attempt to win the World Cup for a second time.

Tens of thousands of English fans are expected to flock to South Africa to watch the Three Lions attempt to win the World Cup for a second time.

Evening News reporter David Blackmore will be among them and ahead of travelling out he spoke to fellow Norwich folk travelling to the Rainbow nation for football's leading competition.

Following the Three Lions across the globe is similar to supporting Norwich City, according to Canaries fan Keith Linstead.

The 36-year-old has already experienced the previous two World Cups in Japan (2002) and Germany (2006) and is excited that the tournament is being held in South Africa.

“Going to the World Cup gives you a great buzz, especially when you are standing with 30,000 other England fans singing the national anthem in a different country,” he said.

“I've only got tickets for the group games but I am sure there will be tickets made available for people out there for the latter stages.”

Mr Linstead didn't go to many of England's home or away World Cup qualifiers because he wanted to save money for South Africa.

“It's going to be a great holiday as well as watching the football and I think I have done well with the costs of getting and staying out there,” he continued.

“The package deals were quite expensive so I have organised it all myself and it's come to about £2,000 for travel, accommodation, trips and tickets.”

The Norwich resident thinks Spain and Brazil are the clear favourites for the tournament but also tipped a North American team to surpass expectations.

“I think the USA will be the shock team of the tournament,” he said. “It is a huge nation which is getting into football so I am nervous about our first game against them because it could be a banana skin for us.”

He continued: “On our day we can beat anyone and my heart is saying we will win but following England has been the same as following Norwich with all the highs and lows in recent years.

“But maybe with Norwich winning promotion, England could win the World Cup and make it a double whammy for me this year.”

Tournament veteran David Sexton is hoping partner Kayleigh Mudd will enjoy her first experience of football's biggest competition.

The Wymondham residents are travelling out to South Africa to watch England's group games against Algeria and Slovenia before possibly taking in a second round game.

Construction director, Mr Sexton, 50, said: “I went to the 2004 Euros in Portugal and the 2006 World Cup in Germany and I thought both were very well organised. The fact both countries are so close meant lots of England fans came out for the day, packed the squares and created an amazing atmosphere.

“But I think it's going to be more interesting this time around with the opportunity to do things like go on a safari and the fantastic buzz there will be in South Africa with this being the continent's first World Cup.

“It will be an amazing experience for us and probably the best tournament for Kayleigh to start with.”

Miss Mudd added: “I am really looking forward to going out there because I find the England away games have the best atmosphere.

“I have always wanted to go to the World Cup and when David asked me if I wanted to go to South Africa, I jumped at the chance. It's a once in a lifetime experience and I cannot wait to soak up the atmosphere.”

Mr Sexton's journey to South Africa has seen him take in most of England's home and away World Cup qualifying games.

He continued: “Football is a big catalyst for me travelling to many places because it's a chance to go out there and spend time looking around the country as well as going to the game.

“Football is a real leveller when it comes to meeting new people in new places and Belarus was my favourite away game because the people were very friendly and the atmosphere was great.”

The couple, both Ipswich Town fans, also said they didn't think the ticket prices were expensive.

Miss Mudd continued: “If you go to a Premier League game you will see a few world class players but at the World Cup you are seeing the best of the best so you would expect to pay a bit more.”

Both tipped England to reach the semi finals but Mr Sexton said the Three Lions would need “a lot” of luck.

Norwich City fan St John Cooper is looking forward to watching England compete against the world's best in South Africa - a country he lived in for six years.

The 42-year-old grew up in Norwich and is meeting two other Canaries fans in South Africa after travelling from his home - a mere 3,400 miles away from Norfolk - in Dubai.

The company director said: “I have got tickets for all of England's group games and also a ticket for Slovenia against Algeria.

“If we get through to the latter stages it will be heartbreaking to go home but I have a family and spending over two weeks away from them would be very hard.

“This is my first World Cup and I cannot wait because it has been a life dream of mine. I am also excited because I lived in South Africa for six great years and I cannot wait to return and see what has changed.”

Mr Cooper said he expects there to be “massive infrastructure” improvements from what he can remember of the country.

He added: “I am expecting a tremendous carnival atmosphere and I don't think there will be ugly crowd scenes that we have seen in past tournaments.”

A founder member of Norwich City's UAE supporters club has also worked out who England might come up against in the latter stages of the tournament.

He said: “I can't really see us being knocked out in the group stages and my heart says we will do really well - despite our current form.

“I think we will get Ghana or Serbia in the second round, then Argentina in the quarter finals before losing to Spain or Brazil in the semi finals.”

David's Diary

When South Africa won the right to host the 2010 World Cup over six years ago, I was determined to be in Africa supporting England in the continent's first ever finals.

I have not been to a major sporting event before and I cannot think of a better country or tournament to begin what I hope will be a decade of major sporting events for me.

My route to the Rainbow nation started in 2008, where the England side, still reeling after failing to qualify for the European Championships in Switzerland and Austria, beat Andorra in Barcelona.

From there, I took in all of England's home World Cup qualifiers and celebrated as the Three Lion's place in South Africa was confirmed with a 5 - 1 victory over Croatia at Wembley last year.

But before England's finest landed in South Africa to begin their World Cup campaign, I had already visited the country on a mission to take the spirit of the World Cup to the country's peoples.

I joined a group of 40 willing volunteers who flew out in March with bowel cancer research charity, the Bobby Moore Fund, to revamp a primary school in a small, remote village called Sandberg.

When we arrived at Sandberg Primary School it quickly became obvious how much the farming community school needed a face lift.

Where schoolchildren in England can relive World Cup moments or climb on a jungle gym during lunchtimes, these children had nothing to do except seek shade from the sun.

But in under 10 days we constructed a canteen, laid a football and rugby pitch, built a jungle gym, revamped the toilets, created a large shelter from the sun and repainted the main school building.

Our group also contained former professional footballers Luther Blissett and George Parris who organised several training sessions and matches for the children - and the volunteers!

It was amazing to see the natural sporting ability these youngsters had in abundance and the delight on their faces when we handed out proper football kits to them.

The World Cup may be starting today but these schoolchildren may never get the chance to escape their farming community to realise their sporting dreams.

It also seems impossible to think they might one day travel to a different continent and join hundreds of thousands of fans from across the globe at a future World Cup.

But through the kindness of 40 volunteers and the unity football brings, I hope to have left a legacy that will live on in Sandberg for years or even decades after the World Cup is won on July 11.

I feel that after the work I did with the volunteers in March, I can now really enjoy my World Cup experience - and I think England can win the competition.

There is no debate that the Premier League is the strongest in the world and the vast majority of players in tomorrow's starting line up play for the top teams in England.

Three Lions stars such as Terry, Lampard and Rooney are amongst nine in Capello's squad that will play in Europe's leading tournament, the Champions League, next season.

With all these things going for us, players being picked on form, and our potential route to the final, there is no reason why England, one of the favourites to lift the World Cup, can't claim victory.

England fans from Norwich who have not been able to fly out to South Africa for this summer's World Cup need look no further than Evening News sister paper the Pink Un for coverage of the feast of football.

Today sees the start of the biggest football show on earth as the 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa with the opening encounter between hosts South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

For the next few weeks there will be wall to wall football as the battle for the sport's biggest prize takes place thousands of miles away.

And for those who are unfortunate enough to be working during the World Cup there is also no need to miss any of the action by following every kick, tackle, and goal from the tournament live at www.pinkun.com/worldcup.

The service will deliver a comprehensive match-day experience, offering a full pre- and post-match service as well as access to live matches.

Meanwhile, a dedicated section on the Evening News website, www.eveningnews24.co.uk will include all of the Norfolk-related stories covered throughout the tournament. Our popular Cover-It Live service will also be up-and-running for the next four weeks, providing you with the chance to have your say and join in the debates of the day.

Pete Raven, PinkUn.com editor, said: “This essential tool for football fans includes breaking news and headlines from South Africa, fixtures, live match tables, match previews, match reports, historical content, guides to all the stadiums in South Africa and a World Cup wall chart. Settle back and enjoy!”

For the next few weeks Evening News reporter Peter Walsh will be World Cup Walshy in a bid to uncover Norwich-related stories about the feast of football that is the World Cup.

Are you travelling out to South Africa to cheer on Fabio Capello's team, or are you organising an event in Norwich to celebrate the world's greatest footballing tournament?

If so, or if you have pictures from South Africa, or any other World Cup themed events, then get in touch with World Cup Walshy by calling 01603 772443 or emailing peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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