World Cup Opening Match at Wrest Point, Hobart

The 10th June 2010 came round rather quick. Aged 30 and living in the land under down under (Tasmania) I was attempting to mix my working life with my lifelong hobby – watching football, the greatest game on planet earth.
It was going to be tricky. In the run up to the World Cup I had bought 3 Football Magazines (2 of World Soccer and 1 of Four Four Two). There was a bit of World Cup Fever going on on the island of Tasmania. Some of the bars had promotions on, a few of the shops were advertising World Cup stuff and some of my workmates knew it was happening, though they didnt exactly watch it or know anything about the fixtures.
In Four Four Two magazine I got a free Panini Sticker album! And six stickers!
I used to love collecting Panini stickers when I was a kid and it brought back memories of 1986, and that photo to the left where I drew a Maradona portrait as well as a Norman Whiteside one. I completed the entire Mexico 86 Panini Album and have sadly lost it. I even wrote all the scores in it myself when I was 6.
I had a wallchart, yet no wall having had no fixed abode and moving farms and hostels, campsites and carparks a lot. So when the World Cup came round, I had the first weekend off work!
And the match times for the entire tournament, here in Australian would be 9.30 pm, 12 midnight and 4.30 am. Hardly the best times to watch football, but none of the live matches would interfere with my working life! farming work tended to be 7 am – 5 pm (at that stage anyway as it was now Winter) so in theory, depending on tiredness I could watch every match live (except when there were two matches on at the same time).
World Cup day arrived, it was Friday 11th June. I was working on the cauliflower field at Loanes Lane in East Devonport that day, and was buzzing at the start of another World Cup. Even though my own country, Northern Ireland wouldn’t be there, yet again. 1986 was our last time.
The plan had been to head down to Hobart for the World Cup weekend and catch a match and have a meet up with fellow TasmaNIan based Ulsterman Andrew Power. We agreed the Saturday night should be the meeting and so that meant a drive down to Hobart and back for the weekend.
I left work at 4.30 pm that Friday, got showered and changed at Coles Beach and then headed down on the 294 kilometre drive to Hobart. Andy Power had a work function that night and wasn’t free to meet, but I had been on the internet and sourced a bar that would be open and showing the football on the big screen!!
A quick google online search on the internet that morning revealed a place called Wrest point was opening at all hours of the day to show the World Cup. It looked like a pretty cool venue so that was me all set. I joined their group on Facebook and decided to head straight there, which is what I did.
It was a wee bit south of Hobart city centre and I found it easily, got parked up and headed in. I was about 1 and a half hours early for kick off which was excellent, and I had hoped to catch the Opening Ceremony, which I always watch.
But the place was massive, it was part of a big complex and there were a few complications. This involved having trouble getting in past security and what have you. 
I got a bit upset about it and after relaxing in my car for a while, eventually talked my way into the venue, where an excellent custom built “World Cup Zone” had been built.
I was so happy to be in there and was happy to make kick off, relax and enjoy the greatest tournament in the world.
There were a lot of South Africans (black and white) in the front row. There were loads of free seats there. The first match was South Africa the hosts against Mexico and in the end I was in there in good time, about 25 minutes before kick off.
Kick Off in South Africa! Live from Wrest Point!
Half time was 0-0 with Dos Santos and Mexico looking impressive. I wasn’t sure whether to sleep in my car at Wrest Point or whether to drive so decided just to have one beer. I bought a bottle of Hahn Super Dry which gives you a chance to win a scarf, hat or fleg (as it happens I now have them all, as I got them free working in a pub!). I didn’t worry too much though as there was a wee goody bag on the way in at Wrest Point.
It totally reminded me of watching the 2002 World Cup Final with my Dad, my friend Gavin Moore and a few of my Dad’s mates such as Albert and Norman. That was in the Northern Whig in Belfast. It was a good atmosphere here in Hobart too!
The second half started and South Africa were looking good. They launched a pretty good attack after 55 minutes and the oddly named Tshabalala scored a total screamer. The Africans in the front row with their fleg were going wild. A few Mexican/Carribean looking lads were quiet. But Mexico deservedly fought back and got their equaliser. Marquez slashed one in at the back post after 79 minutes and the teams shared the spoils.
I decided not to sleep at Wrest Point. I had only had one beer so drove towards Port Arthur instead so I could do the tour of it on the Saturday morning before the big meet up with Andy Power on the Saturday night. I drove to a place called Barilla and slept there in a car park for the night.
Where – Wrest Point, Hobart, Tasmania
Who Went – About 50 people
Beer – 1 Hahn Super Dry
Match – South Africa 1-1 Mexico (GROUP A)

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