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Fiery Rednut up to no good

No more PASTA

SPAIN | Friday, 30 June 2006 | Views [1133]

Might I start this lightly by saying that all Italians must die. Now that is out of the way I can explain my world cup experience thus far in Spain. 

Excitement for the world cup has been building since I left home back in February. Traveling from hostel to hostel an easy conversation starter was always the world cup. I remember “talking” to this Korean guy in Vienna for a couple hours about soccer and of course Guuuuuuuuus. That great man who took South Korea to the semi-final at the last world cup. It will be sad day when he parts ways with his new family, Australia. Sad more so for us than him. His reaction when that penalty went in wasn’t really one of utter heartbreak, like that, say of Frank Farina, when Peter Hore, serial pest, tore down the net at the MCG so many years ago. More like, oh well, the´re a lot better than when I started, now I’m off to Russia. 

Apart from Guus´s international prostituting Australia’s effort was very commendable. Although, when walking back up La Rambla I couldn’t help but feel a little disheartened that we didn’t go any further. However the spirit of football in Spain lives on. I don’t think I will change to the local team, Spain, for two reasons, both to do with my health. Firstly I don’t want to suffer the inevitable heartbreak that will no doubt come when Spain eventually looses to Brazil. Secondly, here in Catalunya most people follow Poland instead of Spain. Because they say they are not Spanish, they are Catalan. The rest of Spain burns them by calling them Polish. Thus for me to support Spain could brand me as a non Catalan and risk violent bouts of Mediterranean patriotism of the highest degree. I’m not sure who to support now, maybe I’ll just kick back and enjoy the spectacle without the stress of my own team competing. Or maybe I’ll support Argentina. 

Game 1 – Australia vs Japan. I was enjoying my first day of work when this game was played. I’m not sure what time it was in Aus, but here it was 3 in the arvo and my first day was drawing to a close. The guy that was looking after me made sure we checked the live feed from the fifa website every five minutes. I left work about 75 minutes into the game to catch the bus back to Barcelona. With no radio or TV in the bus I was left in the dark as to the last minutes of the game. With only the knowledge that we were down 1-0 to comfort me, I fretted all the way home. I tripped over myself running from my metro station to the closest bar. A huge plasma screen was playing the following match to no one. I blurted out Australia and pointed to the screen. The Asian bartender, being the sole inhabitant, looked at me blankly and shook his head. Tears began to well, before he said, no, no USA something, something about the game that was currently on the screen. Oh my god mate this is life and death, tell me what the hell happened in the Australia match, I’m well aware that they are not playing now. Finally he held up two hands. On one he had three finger extended and on the other only one. Holy shit we lost 3-1 was my thought, bloody Japs. Until he qualified his gesture by saying Australia and shaking the three hand. To which I mirrored his two handed gesture with one of my own. Thrusting my clenched fists in the air and letting out a cheer I walked out of the bar contented. 

Game 2 -  Australia vs. Brazil. Hope of winning. Slim. By this time in Barcelona I had tracked down an Aussie bar on La Rambla. Evidently one of the girls at work has the hots for one of the bartenders. That’s another story. So I made my way down to this place and found the name above the door was “Hogan’s”. Nice and cheesy, I like it. Pretty cramped but there were plenty of screens on the walls, propped up beside the plaster cast crocodiles. Hogan’s wasn’t too full at the start of the match but slowly filled to shoulder to shoulder standing room by the end of the first half. I was joined in my viewing by a fellow trainee from Canada, a lonesome Aussie traveler and a couple working on a cruise ship who were in port for the weekend. Alright for a chat in the slow bits but most of the time my jaw was slightly ajar and eyes were wide open glued to the spectacle laid out before me. No there weren’t strippers. The game was a great showing of aussie grit but unfortunately grit wasn’t enough against the five time winners. The rest is history, other than the game being marred by outrageous beer prices. If this “Hogan’s” was truly an aussie bar, ie. a bar in Australia, it would promptly go out of business. Firstly they had no local beer at all. Thus I was forced to select from the best of the rest, Guiness or Forsters. Guiness please. Over comes my beer with a little receipt stuck to the side by the condensation. Oh that’s novel I thought. Peeling of the moist bomb my eyes flared enough to show I wasn’t impressed. €5 for a glass of beer is ludicrous in Barcelona. But I didn’t let that spoil the game. I just wasn’t as pissed as the British hooligans that were lining the walls. 

Game 3 – Australia vs. Croatia. Problems, big problems. Yes big problems indeed. It seems the big wigs of German world cup organization thought it would be a good idea to show off how efficient they can be. Instead of playing all the games at different times as they had done for the previous two rounds, it was decided they both games from the group should be played at the same time. Fabulous. So my challenge for that afternoon was to find a pub in Barcelona that wasn’t showing the Brazil vs. Japan game and was showing the Aussie game. One problem it had to not be that same Aussie bar. Easier said than done. Yes I ended up back at the Aussie bar, unfortunately I didn’t get a seat this time. So I stood, with my one beer, for two hours crammed in with poms on my left and Croatians on my right. This turned out to be a very exciting match, with both teams striving for that second spot to make it through to the second round. It was an end to encounter with many shots from both teams. It would have been a far less stressful day if Guus had have left the Spider on the bench. But no, Australia’s favorite son, Mark Schwarzer looked on in despair from the sideline as lanky spider Kalac had a disastrous day. He fumbled and swatted at the ball all day which filled the bar with gasps of down under heartbreak and cheers of Croatian fortune. Luckily our fullbacks had a good day and left everything out on the park to secure a place in the second round for the green and gold. 

Second Round – Australia vs. Italy I think this game was more anticipated by my co-workers than it was by me. That says a lot as I couldn’t stop talking about it since the Croatia game finished. There was definitely an Aussie buzz going around the lab that Monday. Everyone came up and said something to me. Even if they didn’t speak English. Usually something like “oh Italia, very hard, si, si”. It was good and I didn’t much encourage them by wearing the brightest green and gold aussie supporters shirt I could muster. I will admit not much work got completed that day but I did sit at the computer for long periods and read all the stats and stories from the world cup and football Australia websites. Definitely got me very excited, excited enough even to forget that the game started at 5pm and I wouldn’t get back to the city till 5.45. It was OK the bus made good time through the post siesta traffic and I got into the city with about twenty minutes still to play in the first half. Again the bar was half filled with Aussie and half with Italians and there was a good atmosphere. And again the place slowly got more full towards half time. There were definitely some nervous moments but when the Italian lost a player only minutes into the second half the socceroos looked dominant. I agree with the jeers of the Italian crowd, the guy shouldn’t have been sent off but if your going to complain about shit referees go and play a season at Lake Macquarie Rugby Club and you’ll see what really shitty refereeing is. So the came in waves at the Italians for the following thirty five minutes. However that famous Italian defense held solid throughout the barrage. It was good and bad to watch. The aussies carved through the midfield time after time but that was because the Italians had about six players in their defensive line. So the aussies would work it up to penalty area get hassled off the ball then the Italians would just boot it down the field and it would happen again. We got closer and closer but really didn’t look that much like scoring although I kept telling myself we would. And then the typical Italian game plan came into play. A quick break, a couple of sloppy tackles beaten to get into the box then falling over at the first opportunity. The Italians are masters at this and especially in the last minutes of a game. It was just too cruel for it to happen to us with five seconds to go until extra time. So the bar erupted with chants of Italian victory as Totti stepped up to take the kick. This is a player who doesn’t miss these kicks. The ball sailed passed the valiantly diving palms of our son Mark and kicked Australia out of our second world cup. After hanging my head for moment silence. I looked up to find the bar half empty as the Italians had made a hasty retreat, knowing they just had a very lucky break. 

Thus ends Australia’s world cup 06’ campaign and also much deflates my excitement toward the rest of the tournament. Hopefully in South Africa in 2010 we can match the awesome effort that was displayed over the last few weeks. And between now and then hopefully the standard and support of football in Australia continues to rise back at home. I leave you all now to enjoy the Spanish summer and hopefully I can write another story about my first F.C. Barcelona match later in the year.

Tags: Work

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