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The Ball 2002 is kicked over the Great Wall of China on its way to Korea & Japan

Ferry ride to victory, Argentina lose to England at last

After more cities than I care to mention we beat out of Pusan on a ferry-full of Brazilians destined for the island of Jeju where Brazil were taking on the Chinese, and within an hour of leaving the shore England were kicking off against the Argentine team, ghosts ‘n’ all.

We look forward to watching Argentina v England on a boat headed for the island of Jeju.

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Early moments proved to be nerve wracking and that was nothing to do with the football. The TV in the restaurant would not tune into the channel that we thought we needed. This proved to be pre-match panic. What we needed was a sharp decision from the manager… who turned out to be the waitress. She tuned the TV into a crisp picture and received deep applause from the gathered crew. Wicked, we were in. Brazilians, English, Koreans, one Uruguyan supporting Argentina and our ball settled in for the game… Damn, I wanted England to win, damn, so did the Brazilians and in the spirit of our international ball I greeted the Argentine supporter with a hand to his arm and guess what? He fell over screaming and yelling. Here we are moments later:

Argentine supporter and myself
What ensued was a fantastic night in…

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Body-surf or web-surf?

A quick note to say that we’ve been to see China v. Brazil yesterday… after an eventful day on the beach here on beautiful Jeju island… full story to come when we get back to Seoul.

Chongwon Beach
Is there a better place to see Brazil play?

Right, off to body-surf instead of web-surf… well what would you do if you were in my place?

Busan Foodan Football

And so to the main event… our first live game of this World Cup, and the stadium in Busan. France v. Uruguay – the current World Champions against the first World Champions. As a non-aligned party, I was simply looking forward to the prospect of a scintillating game of football, with both teams needing a win to keep their championship hopes alive.

The Ball in Busan
The Ball arrives at Busan stadium

With our tickets in our pockets, we made our way to the Busan stadium; a giant jellyfish nestling beautifully in the hills outside the city. We joined the throng filing into the stadium, looking forward to getting the Ball in to a ground at last. Or so we thought…

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Fear of football

Whose security?
Us and them and them and us…

As I reflected on the Korea v. Poland game, some thoughts began to take shape in my mind – and right now I just want to get them out in the open. Pat Nevin’s comment that travelling with a football was like carrying a second passport, so I’ll write this with football as my nationality and see what happens…

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France v. Uruguay, Busan

We’re just about to head off to the stadium to see our first live game of this World Cup. Rob’s first game ever! Ole ole ole ole…

Rob's first ticket to a live game of football
Rob’s first ticket to a live game of football

Big thanks to (name withheld) for the tickets! You’re a gentleman and a scholar, and Football’s Leaving Home is very grateful.

Work work work

NEWSFLASH: The first batch of video vignettes of our trip is ready to roll… we’re going to wait for the Windows Media Player version to go online before we post a link to the first one – so you PC folk don’t have to install Quicktime just to see them. Big shout to Dirk and Monika at Berlin-Bristol Mediawire and Films at 59.

Phil and Chris pose for a press photo
Phil and Chris pose for a press photo

With our arrival in Korea, the nature of our journey has changed from just doing it to reflecting on it and trying to pitch the idea to as many press folk as we can. This photo is for the Korea Herald, and possibly other papers, depending on whether the story that has been written about us gets syndicated. Most of the journalists that we have met have been enthusiastic about our story, and have given us what assistance they can. We look forward to seeing the results.

Te Hamin Gwo!

Te Hamin Gwo!
Te Hamin Gwo! A Korean supporter looks forward to the game

Phil, Rob and I joined about a million Koreans in Seoul’s main square to watch their opening game against Poland. As we wandered through the streets on our way to the centre, we paused in many a soju tent – where people go to eat tempura and drink soju, the brutal local spirit – to wish the locals well, though none of us rated their chances much. Famous last words, as it turned out…

Korea play Poland, and find out that their team is better than they perhaps thought. Certainly, the Red Devils seem to be happy with the situation…

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The consummate professionals at work…

As we made our way across Europe, we were still reading the camera manuals trying to familiarise ourselves with the vast amount of functions that Sony have packed into the little video cameras that we are carrying…

click here to download the MPEG of Phil showing his grasp of the technology

By the time we arrived in Urumqi, we had travelled through 12 countries in eight weeks, encountering more than 15 languages along the way…

click here to download the MPEG of Chris showing his grasp of geography

Hangin’ in Hangzhou

Rob Davis reports on the World Cup opening from Hangzhou, China:

It was a warm evening in Hagzhou last night as I set out to get some measure of China’s reaction to the World Cup opening in this scenic town two hours South of Shanghai. The lake around which the town was built has inspired many great Chinese poets and writers over the years – would it have inspired a similar fondness for football?

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Korean taste of Senegalese victory

Korean and Senegalese
The beautiful game unites.

click here or on the image to download the MPEG movie clip

Chris adds: the Senegalese drumming turned the subway into our pre-club club… a prelude for Fat Boy Slim’s gig in Seoul tonight…

Fat Boy Slim flyer
Fat Boy Slim flyer

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.