Day 2 of the ‘Barclays Premier League (BPL) Live in Cape Town’ Football Event, held on Sunday 20th March in Camps Bay, progressed much as the previous day had done for me, though this time I happily made my way down to the Grand Parade with a fellow football-crazy friend, who is an avid Manchester City fan.
We arrived later than I had on Day 1 and if ever the crowds were going to be red, it was certainly that day and thus it was, for time-old rivals Manchester United and Liverpool were both set to play, taking on Manchester City and Southampton respectively. We were both amped to watch our personal teams play live on the 118-square metre screen, surrounded by (at least in my case) masses of fellow, like-minded Liverpool or City supporters.
We left the CBD sometime after 11:00 a.m. and although we endured a longer wait on and off the shuttle bus than I had the previous day (please see my review of Day 1 and all the fun and action here: Event Review: Cape Town Scores BPL Live – Day One), we arrived at much the same time and entered the Camps Bay High venue far more speedily, just after the event’s noonday starting time.
At the first checkpoint, beneath the still grey and chilly sea-mist-laden skies, we were astonished to see how much food and drink had been confiscated – this included 2l fizzy cold-drinks, jumbo-size packets of crisps and a great number of mineral water bottles. Sadly, this was the price, which those who failed to heed event rules, paid at the very first hurdle.
Once inside the thoroughly packed out venue, my friend and I passed Swansea’s mascot (which is, rather appropriately, a giant white swan) on our way over to Manchester City’s tent, where we queued with many other (mixed) football fans in the suddenly hot and humid, strong autumn sunshine that took centre stage, as clouds dissipated and the day turned gorgeous weather-wise.
We had unanimously agreed that I would only change into my Liverpool Red once we had visited the other tents, for I could not imagine entering, say, Man City’s tent, donning an LFC t-shirt (though many others did this), especially as the banter between fans was naturally somewhat more… feisty. 🙂
Although I cheered lustily along with the other Liverpool fans when the guest presenter asked each set of fans to ‘make some noise’ for their specific team, I felt like a neutral visitor for some time and after taking three pathetic shots on goal (in flip flops, mind you) against a robotic Joe Hart, City and England’s primary goalkeeper, I emerged from their tent with a sky-blue City cap, shirt (that read ‘Cape Town is our kind of CITY’) and flag and was fortunate enough to land a photo with two former City greats in Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov. Mr Dickov was so enthusiastic and giving that he even bestowed yet another City flag upon me, which I stowed away into the depths of my backpack.
Then we proceeded through Arsenal’s tent where we took a photo together next to the Gunner’s fake BPL Trophy and in the Arsenal locker room in front of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud’s respective lockers.
We received an informative booklet, entitled ‘Inside Arsenal’ that offered insight into the club’s history, as well as a Sanchez mask and an Arsenal FA Cup-shaped trophy badge, boasting of the club’s 12 victories in the prestigious English cup tournament. (Just as an aside, I noticed that the teams gave greater merchandise away on each of their specific match days. For instance, Liverpool was giving away a Red foam hand for reinforced support that Sunday.)
After that, we gave up exploring the tents for the time being, for the queues outside Manchester United and Liverpool were unbearable. I decided it was thus time to reveal my true colours and went to change into my Liverpool supporters’ shirt in one of the many unisex mobile toilets nearest the stage.
We tried in vain to get me into the lengthy line of Liverpool supporters eager to get Robbie Fowler’s signature but sadly, even though we made our way there at the earliest possible time, the line had already been cut so, once again, I had to literally watch Mr Fowler from the sidelines.
Then, we grabbed lunch (the food and beverage lines were pretty crazy the entire day) and this time I opted for a proper foot-long Frankfurter roll, with delicious fried onions and the best Thousand Island sauce I have ever sampled. This tasty meal set me back R30 but, like my R10 plastic cup of Coke, it was perfect and offered great value-for-money. I was also particularly impressed by the politeness of the man who served me so that particular food stall gets a firm 9/10 rating from me.
We had planned to also pop by to the beach while we were in such close proximity to it so that is precisely what we did, eating our lunch along the way and ensuring we left early with at least an hour to spare before the first game (Southampton vs Liverpool) could kick-off.
We asked a BPL security staff member what we should do to ensure easy re-entry and were given a red-and-white, candy-striped wristband. She also assured us she would remember our faces and let us back in quickly and easily (she kept her promise and we re-entered hassle-free some forty-five minutes later).
We strolled briskly to Clifton 4th, which was a mere five minutes away at most, and enjoyed some quiet time on the pristine, then-empty beach. I took some photos of the stunning surroundings, with their chunky granite boulders and crashing waves, whilst my friend was brave enough to splash about in the icy waters.
After that we dashed back to the BPL venue and hastily made our way over to the expansive, but already very full lawn, in front of the stage. Then the local presenter gave the Liverpool faithful our chance to sing the club’s iconic You’ll Never Walk Alone anthem. There’s something undeniably special about almost an entire field of football fans singing that song in unison and, when we were given a second go at it, it was even more stirring. I realise I am probably a bit biased as a Liverpool supporter but football fans and pundits the world over agree it is one of the most moving football anthems of all and our South African Reds made sure that reputation was upheld.
Then it was over to John Dykes, Neil Andrews and two former Liverpool players (one of whom naturally being Mr Fowler) for a quick match preview before the game kicked off. This was the first time on either of the two days that I had encountered the deafening cheers and teasing banter from opposing fans. It didn’t take me long to work out why the Man United fans were cheering every time Southampton scored, though I made sure I lent my voice for each of Liverpool’s exciting goals.
It was a disappointing result for my team in the end but I still loved every minute. The frustrated groans whenever Liverpool missed a shot, the subtle jests from rival fans and the Klopp masks switched back to front that stared out at me in the sea of Liverpool (and Man U) red, all of these made for the ultimate Barclays Premier League Live experience! 🙂
I also was especially chuffed when the BPL Live Fan Park was flashed across the screen when the Barclays Premier League panel over in the UK gave the event a special mention during one of the half-time intervals. It was really fun to see ourselves, over in sunny Cape Town, shown to the legions of BPL viewers across the globe.
My friend and I took some photos together throughout the day and some of my favourites were the ones we captured whilst sitting on the grass, enjoying the general ambiance.
For the highly anticipated Manchester Derby match preview, I have to say I was quite ashamed of some of our fans though, for when Man City’s former players, Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov came out onto the stage, to join Peter Schmeichel and Quinton Fortune – who would both also be in conversation with John Dykes and Neil Andrews – they received scattered boos from some United fans.
Now, I understand that rivalry is intense but for me personally, booing has no place at any event, not even a footballing one, and especially not when it is towards visiting personalities who have travelled to our shores to provide us with an international event.
I was pleased to see that both Mr Goater and Mr Dickov applied some characteristically British humour to this by taking it into their stride and later doing their best to competitively rile the United fans up as best they could, and though it was all in the name of good fun (well, mostly…), the panel was undeniably the most tense and teasingly fractious of the weekend.
During half-time, I decided I could wait no longer for my sweet fix of the day and I joined the seemingly endless queue of fans waiting to buy ice-creams from Creamy Tops. After standing for about an hour, as the sun was starting to set and the game was going Man United’s way, I finally managed to buy a soft serve (in an awesome sugar cone), which left me decidedly chilled but it was worth it.
After that, as the match was dwindling to a close, I wandered back to the Liverpool tent and both there and on my return to our new spot just below the stage, I captured some lovely sunset scenes with the silhouettes of football fans, their attention and eyes glued to the big screen. For me, these were my best photos of the weekend and I feel they captured the spirit and essence of the entire weekend: contentment, overall good feeling and footballing fun in a safe, family atmosphere.
My friend and I, both disappointed by the results for our respective teams, decided to leave sometime after 20:00 to make sure we had time to catch a shuttle back into the CBD. It was also getting cold and a light drizzle had started to fall, so, after receiving more free merchandise (I was delighted to finally snag a Jurgen Klopp mask) as the tents were being dismantled or closed, we caught the bus back with (mainly) Man United supporters who were very pleased with their 1-0 victory over City. We might have missed watching the game’s dying moments on the big screen but naturally, they made sure we knew the result.
I didn’t really enjoy the ride back (my Liverpool loyalty is hard to squash and Man United fans seem to dislike we LFC fans most of all) but I had a truly fantastic day overall and felt blessed to have experienced both of the BPL Live in Cape Town days first-hand.
This event was a wonderful, slickly run and highly professional family footballing event that had excellent catering, local and international staff, top guest presenters. performers and panellists and above all, loyal football fans and former Legends alike, in what was a truly stunning venue!
For all of the above and also for, most importantly, capturing the spirit of the Barclays Premier League and bringing it to our wonderful, world-class city, the BPL Live Event gets a firm 10/10 overall rating – and should it ever return to Cape Town, I will definitely be first in line once again! 🙂
Thank you to everyone who made this event possible and to every fan who made it such a huge success – big ups, Cape Town and BPL Live!
For more info on BPL Live and/or the Barclays Premier Leagure, please find them on social media using the following links (or check out BPL Live):
Facebook: Premier League
Twitter: Premier League
Please note: All views, opinions and images used in this post are my own and in no way reflect
upon any other fan/visitor, BPL Live staff member or institution other than myself.