Day 3: Saturday 19th July 2014Crikey it’s been busy over the past few days. Ever since we arrived, we’ve had meeting after meeting to sort the tour arrangements in general and the Centenary Match in particular.
It’s been a challenge quite frankly and, ideally, we could have done with the big match being at the end of the week. Being so quick after arrival, we have flown straight into it, despite our attempts the be organised before we left Exeter, which seem to be nailed down but that is not the way things happen here and it’s a culture shock for us Brits.
The laid back attitude extends to the internet and wifi in my opinion. So reliant on it, the sporadic nature and signal strength at the Academy where we stay is a real issue. Wrong place, wrong time, that’s vital data transfer opportunities to the UK lost. Only just getting to grips with this.
Moving on, Saturday sees rain in Rio (well, it is winter!) The players trained in it, glad of some warm water at last (boiler for showers now happily fixed!) Of course, this meant another trip down and up the huge hill to the laundry for Donna. I’m thankful for her sterling efforts in helping me dodge that bullet after spending late nights in the hotel laundry when we visited Norway a few years ago! Even had to wash Marcus Stewart’s jeans then after he tipped a £13 pint of Guinness over them. Priceless… literally!
The boys take in the surroundings of the Laranjeiras
With so little to do at the Academy, we have tried to keep active so we visited the Laranjeiras Stadium in the afternoon so that the players could get a feel of the place and the surface they be playing on. The history and ambience of the place is stunning. Fluminense’s first team train there so it’s in reasonable nick but the stadium past is over 100 years old so you get rough with smooth. With Christ the Redeemer looking down on you, it’s impressive and every player, if they hadn’t already, suddenly got the significance of why we were there as they looked around the club buildings and museum. The comment was that two hours were spent there but it could easily have been four.
The original ball from the 1914 fixture
As we still had daylight time, the coach took us for a quick spin around Rio and then stopped at the end of Copacabana, the other end compared to where you saw the TV studios in the World Cup, along with the Fans Zones still being dismantled – no rush of course.
We had just an hour to take in the famous surroundings, waves crashing onto the stunning beach. Even the sun peeked out. First to get wet was me, not intentionally, just trying to get a classy shot of the shoreline. JMT managed it properly and secured a few Reals from doubting colleagues as a reward. My how he’s picked up after the trauma of his journey over.
The City players share a meal together
The Brazilians have gym equipment on the beach to keep that body beautiful. Donna made a valiant attempt to use the cross trainer and, with locals rhythmically swinging to and fro, looked in comparison like she was in a blender.
Even Tis relaxed for a moment and had a local cocktail, just the one, though. It was enough! Then the players were taken to a restaurant near Ipanema for a meal before heading home for an early night before matchday.
Happy 112th birthday to Fluminense!
Five of us, however, had been invited to represent the club at Fluminense’s 112th birthday party by the President himself. The high and mighty of Fluminense were there and it was an honour for Exeter City to be involved and recognised. Martin McGahey (grandson of the Chairman who took the club to Brazil in 1914) and Julian Tagg were invited onto the floor to join Mr President and the bigwigs in singing the club song and cutting the cake.
Parties take off late over here so we had to make our excuses early and leave. Shame as it looked fun but it had been a long day. The last fun of the evening was in the taxi, Brits in town for just one day explaining to a local taxi driver the way to Xerem and the Academy!
I still maintain that the road sign pointing us to Xerem was a pretty good clue, one I would have taken if driving!
Day 1 – Destination: Rio
Day 2 – Heathrow–Frankfurt–Rio–Xerem
Day 4 – 100 years in the making
Day 5 – A day of rest
Day 6 – Project visit in Juiz de Fora