GAME 24: The Savannah River, Georgia, USA


After incredible scenes in Colombia, Costa Rica and Cuba it was time to head off to the USA for the last leg of this part of the journey.


I walked down by the riverside in Savannah, Georgia with my old mate Neil Murphy, who now lives in South Carolina. It was early evening and what a sight met our eyes. The magnificent Georgia Queen riverboat sat waiting to take its next lot of lucky passengers up river.


We had to have a game here. We plonked the jumpers down right beside this glorious red and white vessel and invited folk to play. 3 lads on holiday from Örebro Sweden joined us: Jonathan Andersson, Martin Sand and Anton Ryberg. Louis Jassmeier from Germany then joined us to make it a 3 v 3.


I want to stress before I go on that I always ask women to play and a lot of games have been played so far with women involved. The last 3 games have featured just blokes, but it isn't through lack of trying. The women we asked today were having far too much fun to join in a game with a bunch of sweaty buffoons.


Rebecca, Louis' partner, was official photographer for today's game and took some brilliant shots.


Martin and Louis were on my team, but it was the energetic and forceful Jonathan who looked most likely to score first. Against the run of play though, Louis slammed us in the lead from close range. It was hot. Even these ice-hockey playing, mountain trecking Swedes were finding it tough.


A dodgy goal at the far post brought them back in it. 1-1 at half-time and we changed ends.


Shortly after the re-start the ball sailed into the river beside the boat. The response was heroic ! Neil wandered off and came back amazingly with a long handled tool used for planting posts. A uniformed chap working on the boat spotted our plight from the top deck and came running to our aid with a long pole. Tourists and boat staff alike stopped to watch the rescue effort. I'm surprised ABC news didn't show up! Between us we scrambled the ball back into play and cracked on.


We were briefly joined by two tiny tots, a brother and sister whose flip-flops flew off in all directions when they kicked the ball. At one point the ball spilled to an elderly woman who, laughing, started playing basketball with it. Brilliant


Gaps started to appear in our defence as Louis and Martin began running out of steam. For them, Neil was having more of an influence coming forward with Anton hanging back to plug the gaps. Jonathan continued to press. Despite my teenage cheetah-like athleticism in the nets (?) we went down 3-1.


The game ended on this score when the ball plonked in the river again; Anton being held by the ankles as he rescued it.


This evenings game was a great example of football telepathy at its finest. Very few words spoken, but a great game played amongst people of different nations and a rescue mission successfully completed. Marvellous .