Day 9: Friday 25th July 2014A bad start to the day for David Wheeler. He’s nowhere to be seen as the regular morning meeting is about to start, an offence which carries a fine. Woody, in a tremendous show of teamwork, states helpfully that David was asleep when he came down for the meeting. No trace of shame or guilt in his room mate’s dilemma whatsoever! Just left him there.
Tis carried on with the meeting in the hope that Rip van Wheeler would eventually make an appearance but to no avail. Ollie Watkins was eventually dispatched to bring the accused down to a hastily arranged court, run by Judge Pat Baldwin. As Wheels sat in the dock, the charge of lateness was out to him and he was offered the opportunity to contest the charge and risk a heavier punishment if found guilty or to take it on the chin. Many of the lads urged him to contest, stating that they felt he had a good chance of successfully overturning the charge (yeah, right!) but, in a showstopper, all Wheels could say was: ’What’s wrong, what time is it?’ Incredible, totally oblivious to any kind of time, early or late! Sensibly he took the fine. His rap sheet is mounting. Lives completely in his own world, a bit like Troy used to.
Once David was ready, off we headed to the Rio Cricket Club for the third and final match of the tour. The setting in (Ruud van) Niteroi in Rio was a magnificent one, a fantastic colonial building at the private club with lush green grounds, ideal for cricket. The game used to be played here but I think its popularity waned and football moved in. Cricket did stat up elsewhere but surely not with the same setting as here.
The opposition play at an amateur level in Rio and contain predominantly older players but with a great deal of experience around the world, including with Huddersfield and Orient in England. As you’d expect with older Brazilian players, they played with the great natural technique and patience which made things quite difficult for City early on. However, City did get to grips with this and enjoyed the territorial advantage throughout, despite conceding a goal, and the second half saw great passages of play and three goals as fitness told in the end. Another good workout and goals for the youngsters, Matt Jay and Ollie Watkins, plus Jimmy K’s second of the tour.
A nice touch from Tis, who gave Luan, our constant guide throughout our stay, a run out for the last eight minutes. Sadly, despite his best endeavours, he didn’t get a touch, although Jimmy headed a ball back across goal towards Luan, who couldn’t quite get a touch for what would have been a certain goal and triggered great celebrations from the players, who have taken him to their hearts.
One last thing about the game, my media position! Not often in League 2 this season that you’ll get a chance to observe the game, making notes for a match report, from under a palm tree. Very exotic but also practical, as it was really tipping down – ironic as we were at the Cricket Club!
Afterwards there was just the chance to chat to the fans and grab a few photos. Neil Le Milliere made a short but well received speech, where he congratulated and thanked the fans for making the journey all the way to Brazil and also to the players and club staff. A touching memento was a special limited edition tour pin badge given to us all – thanks Neil and Jim.
It was all relatively brief as flights back home had to be caught. Later that evening we learnt that there was a five-hour delay, just the sort of thing that drives me crazy when on the way home. It’s tough enough to have to go home when you’ve been having a good time!
After a barbeque with the Rio Cricket Club players, we had an invitation to one of Rio top Samba Schools for the evening. In a warehouse-type club, the local Samba groups get a chance to show off the skills they have been practising. It’s an incredible sight, all the colour and noise you’d associate with a Brazilian carnival. The beat gets to you and everyone, yes everyone, was dancing along.
Last thing to mention today is the coach. Another breakdown and delay in collecting us to go to the Samba School. Not our tour is it?
Then, the Academy was unhappy about our late return, despite the invite to the Samba School being both official and paid for by our hosts so rude not to attend. Gates would be locked so this meant we parked up in a lay by and kipped on the coach until 6am when it’s apparently fine to return. Not my idea of fun! All good tour experience I guess but not a pleasurable one.
Pictures to follow!