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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 7: 1 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysFour o'clock. At Cairo station, half an hour late after a 220-kilometre train journey from Alex across the fertile, feudally-farmed Nile Delta. The temperature is 91 degrees.

It's Saturday afternoon and I've been promised seats for the big football match between local heroes National Sporting Club and some tough-tacklers from Middle Egypt - Al Minya. I arrive at Cairo Stadium, in a grandiose complex called Nasser City, halfway through the second half. The stadium is a wide, comfortable bowl with an electronic scoreboard and lush grass playing surface. The terraces are clean and well cared-for and put most British grounds to shame.

I'm rather confused by the colours and enthusiastically cheer an Al Minya attack by mistake. I'm then taken in hand by some local supporters who explain who's who and offer me sunflower seeds. They are exceptionally friendly and as Sporting Club score twice only moments after my arrival, clearly regard me as having Bill Shankly-like powers.

The 60,000 crowd is well-patrolled. Ten minutes before the end riot police with transparent shields, visors, helmets and long white sticks take up position around the touchline, facing the crowd like nervous samurai.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 7
  • Date: 1 October
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Cairo
  • Book page no: 39

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