Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Aussies Rule /Rock The Calabash

Another scorching day in London and another three quality games of football:

Australia 3 - 1 Japan
USA 0 - 3 Czech Republic
Italy 2 - 0 Ghana

Things were looking up for the aussie game as I found there was a walkabout 5min away from
the Czech and Slovak club in West Hampstead. Too good to be true?

Of course it was! The Czech and Slovak club was closed on Mondays (as was the Czech centre, what is this th Czech sabbath?) so we had to revert to plan B. At least we had a planB though - Sven take note.

So instead we hotfooted it to Belushis at London Bridge which is below a youth hostel and should have been full of our Antipodean cousins. It turned out great, there was a good atmosphere from the Aussie crowd, massive burgers with Beetroot and egg on them and genuine Victoria Bitter:

I don't actually like it that much but thought it would be more authentic! The game itself was very good, high paced good passing and just a touch of physicality. Japan put together some great passing moves in midfield but only threatened occasionally up-front. For the Aussies Cahill and Aloisi scored some crackers and Viduka played much better than I've seen him generally play.

We rushed back in the energy-sapping heat to base camp to watch the Czechs who were also very impressive. Rosicky seems like he can hit a ball well(!) and should be entertaining for the Premiership but it was old Nedved who was pulling most of the strings. They were comfortable winners against an organised USA side but I have a feeling they're going to struggle against a team with more of a cutting edge.

As soon as the final whistle blew it was out of the flat and I set us a frightening pace to make it to Covent Garden to watch the Ghana game at the Africa Bar. Mike had gone on ahead an when we finally made it to Waterloo he had some poor news for us: "The hall is closed for a board meeting, the would be showing all the other games though. There is a restaurant and they've said they'll show it, they've only got one small TV though".

I was undettered, this was just the sort of venue I was looking forward to and though I could sense some doubts in the group we continued on. When we arrived there Mike was trying to keep our hopes down. The television was small and the tables were miles away from it. Furthermore there were no Ghana supporters in there at all, in fact there were no Africans (except the staff) and few other customers.

We couldn't have hoped for friendlier and more helpful staff though, they moved out table close to the TV and perched the TV up on top of two tables:

Mike is using his head there to give a sense of scale. The match was pretty good, Italy were a bit nervy until they scored. Ghana played some attractive football but seemed to want to walk it into the goal at times. This seems to be a common theme among the emerging nations and while I applaud it for the purposes of defeating Arun at the top of the prediction league I sometimes wish they'd just hoof it into the box.

The food and drink was also noteworthy, here's Mike's fish:

The rest of us had Groundnut Stew, Joe had battered Yams as a side and we finished it off with some great deserts.

The beer was pretty decent too:
(I can only assume it's made of Tusks)

All joking aside I had an amazing time here, it's the Calabash restaurant in the basement of the Africa Centre, Covent Garden - I can't reccomend it enough if you want food that's a little different and friendly staff.

After an overnight monsoon it's heating up again as we prepare to head to Guanabara to watch the champions play, should be good,

Much Love,


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