South Africa 1 England 1 - 19/03/2003
Well, tonight’s game could mark one of the finest hours of the club’s history. If the results go the right way then we’ll be in the quarter final’s of the Champions League – and I will have missed a fantastic game!! I’m out of the country at the moment as I’m on a Stag Party – with a difference. Firstly it’s in South Africa, and secondly the 'party' included 24 hours on a ‘boot camp’!!! I must be mad – but we made up for the non-alcoholic 24 hours! In actual fact, the South African's beat the English at the boot camp (my legs are cut to ribbons)...but we beat them at the drinking...so it's 1-1 and a moral victory as we were away from home!! The lad who’s getting married is an old football colleague of mine, Steve Mills. He came over here to play the game and decided to stay. When you get out here you understand why, it’s a fantastic country and he lives miles from the city in wonderful countryside and pretty close to a lake. It’s great for water skiing and what a place for bar-b-ques!
Looking back at tonight's game, I noticed before I left that everyone seems to be talking about the need for Bayer Leverkusen to get a result. For me, it’s first things first – we need a result! OK it was only a friendly, but Barcelona showed last summer that when they’re simply playing a pre-season warm-up game they’re focused. It’ll be the same tonight and don’t expect them to roll over for Bobby. Speaking of Bobby Robson, I’m sure he’ll make the point very clearly to the players; without a victory tonight there’s no chance of getting through. He wont let any form of complacency slip into the side, but the crowd also have to appreciate what we’re up against. Juve showed that a team of reserves can go away from home and get a result when they turned over Kiev. As Barca are resting a few of their establshed players, it’s an ideal platform for some for their fringe players to come into the side and prove their worth. The fact that Raddy Antic is still new in the job will make them even more determined to take their opportunity.
Irrespective of what happens, tonight should be a celebration of what we’ve achieved this season, of where the club was, and where the club now is. Bobby is looked upon with great affection and as a top manager by both clubs tonight – that respect has been well earnt. And if you’re off to the game, then enjoy it, take in the atmosphere, and get behind your team in the knowledge that you’re watching two of the best 16 clubs in the whole of Europe – and one of them is yours.
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