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Gotta get out of this prace

Chinese, er, eggs?
Some things just leave a bad taste in the mouth

With only 4 days to go ’til the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup 2002 Japan/Korea, the ball finally reaches the other side of this 7000 mile wide continent. Holy Smoke, the sea air is welcome since our last sniff of English Channel air, the recent soup of Beijing air, oh yeah, and the self inflicted tab smoking. I can hardly believe that Chris, the ball and I, have made it this far and with only a short ferry trip over the Yellow Sea to the start of a month of football heaven in Korea and Japan, to go. So flicking through the Weidong Ferry Co. brochure we decide to treat ourselves to a Royal Class cabin for the 17 hour ride. “Not so fast, oh World Cup travellers….

…you must go to the passenger service and check it’s OK for you to travel with us, then check with Police that leaving on last day of your Chinese visa is OK”. No plobrem we say, with the aid of our new found Chinese friend Maggie. Two buildings and one hour later we return to the ticket office with the OK from both authorities, only to find that we are still refused tickets on account of the Chinese ferry company worrying that the Korean customs/immigration folk would not let any foreigners in that arrive by boat during the World Cup!

But we not hooligan…

OK, but dutch nutter was refused entry, spend 8 days on our boat and try to kill himself.

Hmmmm… nice?!

Flying OK but sea no good.

[Borrocks] We really need to travel by sea.

Not possible.

To cut a long, 5 hour story short, Maggie, her father, the British Embassy in Beijing with Chris and I, had no joy, but, for the second time on our trip, we made a concession to our surface travel and scored a beautiful top right 40 yard goal as we sped up our journey against time and booked two air tickets to Seoul.

Colin and John from the British Embassy also told us that we may still have plobrems at Yantai airport. But why we say. This is China, comes the reply. Well, tomorrow 3pm we will find out.

During all these negotiations my blood pressure certainly rose and, no doubt, this heavy handed approach to security will provoke and not deter the possibility of violence over the World Cup. Here’s to hoping that patience and football will prevail and that the media don’t fuel the borrocks which tars all football fans with the brush of the warriors. (Wise er… word type things, mate, ed.)

Michael Owin, David Beckerham, China loves you.

Well it’s ‘down on the beach’ for a little expert filming and football for me!

Later, Phil

Written by on Tuesday, May 28th, 2002

8 comments on this post

  1. Quite liderally a true story… I can hardly believe that, after all we’ve been through, we can come so close to completing this trip on the planet’s surface, only to be thwarted by beaurocracy at the final hurdle. So we face our second yellow card.

    Anyone with a more paranoid disposition than me (if that’s possible) could begin to think that someone out there is out to stop us… cue madcap laughter and the swishing of a cloak… pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    Poor Dutch lad – whoever you are, I have sympathy for you. I guess eight days battling with Chinese administrators would be enough to drive anyone to the limits you reached. Hope you’re now filled with the spirit of life again… somewhere other than China.

    I’d also like to say a word of thanks to John, Colin and everyone else at the British Embassy in Beijing. They have all been fantastic – taking up our case and hassling the bloody-minded ferry company for us and phoning us with friendly words of consolation when we were despairing in our Weihai hotel room.

  2. A trip through China worthy of Bernard Manning or the Duke of Edinburgh. No second yellow card and the Ref waves play on.

  3. Expect a much warmer welcome when you get to Japan, lads – the British Embassy in Tokyo has been handing out a leaflet debunking the hooligan myth:

    You might feel frightened by their big bodies…

    Of course, the section that goes “In British pubs, you pay for drinks when you buy them” doesn’t apply to you, Phil ;-)

  4. Rob (in Shanghai) May 29, 2002 at 3:05 pm

    Oh my god – I can’t believe that they didn’t let you get a ferry in the end! I witnessed Phil spending hours on the phone in Xian; Phil and Chris spending more hours on the phone in Beijing; mad dashes to the Korean embassy; more calls; visits to an internet centre to print out pleading letters; and then you still went through more beurocracy and hassle after we parted.

    Incredible but, as I am learning in China, not unbelieveable. The land where anything is impossible.

    Good luck on your next leg. Hope you did get let off the plane in Soeul. (Well I land there on Sunday, so I shall be keen to hear…)

    I met a Japanese tourist in Beijing who told me that the Japanese media has been having a field day with the “British hooligans” story. The first thing he said when I said I was from England was “Are you hooligan”. I’ve heard that businesses (including hotels) in Japan will be refusing to serve Brits on account of this media-induced hysteria.

  5. Just read that Guardian article you posted, Ben:

    ‘Memorising just a few phrases of English such as …. “England are a great team” can make quite a difference.’

    I’m sure that reassures them no end ;)

  6. Rob, ’tis indeed true that we had to fly in the end. Email us your flight details. Makes all that effort in Beijing seem really worthwhile [sigh] To think that we could have seen some of Beijing’s attractions (apart from the nightclubs) instead makes me feel just great. Ah well, at least we tried – to quote a phrase, “I don’t think I’d be able to forgive myself if I hadn’t…”

  7. On the hooligan thing:

    It was a distressing experience being refused ferry tickets with the implication that, because we were British, we might be hooligans. Though it was the same at France ’98, where, so often, we would have to explain to bar owners that we were from ENGLAND, not IN-GER-LUND.

    Still, that’s in essence what this trip is about for me… finding a way to portray a different kind of enthusiasm for football. One that doesn’t involve violence. Along the trip, we were often the first England supporters that many local people had ever encountered. I hope that they will remember us favourably when they hear the (inevitable) stories of trouble at England games, and that we have managed to do something to counteract the terrible reputation of the England fan. And Tim, perhaps even Bernard Manning and the Duke of Edinburgh might have approved of that.

  8. The Guardians translation of the British Embassy’s leaflet also says: “people will drink, dance, eat and drink”, so Ben, I fancy joining in. Can you lend me a few yen please, you know just ’til I get myself sorted like?

    Love ‘n’ all

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The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.