There are only two occasions when Australian soccer receives anywhere near as much media attention as the other football codes. That time every four years when we reach the final hurdle in the quest to qualify for the World Cup; and whenever ethnic hooligans fight each other. With such a strong sporting tradition it’s a shame that the ‘World Game’ gets so little attention here.
There are some obvious and not so obvious reasons for this. Soccer has to compete with the big four of Aussie rules, rugby, league, and cricket, but this is no reason why it can’t succeed here. Indeed, soccer has already won in the sense that more kids play the round ball game than any other sport. The trouble is trying to keep these kids playing soccer when they get older, which isn’t helped by the lack of opportunities in Australia. Geography is the main reason for this, exemplified by the fact that the last few ‘home’ games for the Socceroos were played in London.
Many soccer clubs in Australia have also traditionally been ethnic based, usually founded by groups of postwar immigrants from Eastern Europe. It was common during the old NSL days to see fans waving a few Greek or Croation flags at games, and still is today around the various state leagues. Perhaps this ‘ethnicity’, and the view that only wogs play soccer has turned a lot of would be mainstream fans away.
One may also examine Australia’s sporting record in general. We only seem to be good at the sports only a handful of other countries play. There are ten countries that play test cricket, and half of them are shit. It’s a similar story for other sports we generally consider ourselves among the best in world at – league; rugby; netball; and to an extent, swimming.
Hopefully this will all change by the end of tomorrow night. Or if not then, at least in four years time when we’re part of the Asian Confederation and take part in a ‘real’ qualification campaign instead of the Oceania farce we have to go through today.
I guess the good news is that this will be the last time Australia will have to qualify for the World Cup via a cross-confederation play-off, with us joining Asia next time. The whole ‘revenge’ factor will make next month’s games exciting, and hopefully attract the media attention the game so desperately deserves in this country. Plus, this time we have Hooos! On a personal note, whoever decided to schedule the games smack bang in the middle of final exams week should be shot.
I’ve pretty much stopped following the AFL since that um local team (Lions was it?) became shithouse. Which I guess means I was never a real fan, rather one of those who hopped onto the bandwagon only to hop off again when the wheels started coming off. Hey, I admit it. I’ve never really liked that game you southerners play until we got good at it. But the whole Barry Hall thing did catch my attention. What the fuck was up with that? There is no question the Sydney player decided to give one to the stomach of St Kilda’s Matt Maguire. But Barry Hall escaped suspension because the incident occurred ‘in play’. I don’t know the rules exactly, but is punching a bloke in the stomach legal, so long as it’s ‘in play’? If so, then perhaps more teams should take advantage of this, and then we’d have a contest! If the incident happened during a game of soccer or basketball, the offender probably would’ve been suspended for at least half a season along with a hefty fine, not to mention being sent off. Sure, some say that Aussie Rules is a real man’s game, unlike pansy sports like soccer. But surely you must draw the line between being tough and manly, and being stupid, cowardly, and a bad sport, which was exactly opitimised by Barry Hall. Speaking of soccer, I’ll be heading out to the Queensland Roar vs Dwight Yo… I mean, Sydney FC game tomorrow night. Should be good fun. Now that’s a great bandwagon to be on.
Brisbane-ites know a sporting bandwagon when they see one. Back in the 80s, it was Leyroy Loggins and the Bullets carving it up at Boondall. The early 90s saw the rise of the Broncos as yuppies flocked to ANZ Stadium. Then for a relatively short period in the late 90s came the Queensland Reds. The Queensland Bulls have always been successful, but no one really took notice. Most recently, it’s been the Brisbane Lions that have galvanised the Brisbane sporting public, with three consecutive AFL Flags from 2001-2003.
Now that the Lions have become shit, the Broncos can’t seem to play when it matters let alone having a dozen top players injured, the people realising that the Reds were always shit, and no one knowing anything about the Bullets anymore, the time is nigh for new bandwagon the Brisbane public have been craving to jump on.
Of course, I’m talking about the Hyundai A-League which kicked off during the weekend. Over 20,000 people saw Queensland Roar (the worst name for a soccer club in history) defeat the New Zealand Knights 2-zip. I’ll definitely be attending a few more matches as the season progresses. Hell, I’ve even bought a jersey already.
Of course, all this will likely come to nothing if Australia fails to qualify for next year’s World Cup, and we Brisbane-ians have to find another sport to make ourselves feel important. Table tennis, anyone?
Cricket tragic I may be, I’ve always believed that the team winning the toss should always bat first, no matter how bad the pitch conditions may be, in the hope that the opposition will have to chase a reasonable total in the 4th innings on an uneven and turning 4th/5th day wicket (there’s a very good reason why teams rarely score over 300 runs in the final innings). On a side note, had Ricky Ponting sent England in in the previous two tests (on very good batting surfaces too), the results could’ve been a lot different. I’d be very interested to see if anyone’s actually sorted through the stats, and if the team which wins the toss and chooses to bat actually does or does not win more often. Of course, you would have to also take into account the relative strengths and weaknesses of both sides – Bangladesh is never going to beat Australia in a test batting first or second. Hell, if I have any time this weekend, might even do it myself.