We kept Johnny Warrens Dream Alive……
I was at Stadium Australia on this day back in 2005. It was the culmination of 12 months of planning for me. I said to Veronica the Christmas before, “If Australia reaches the World Cup, we are all going to Germany”. She said “great”, and started planning a trip to Thailand with the money, because she didn’t believe Australia would make it.
I was living in the same place I do now, Gold Coast Qld, 800km from Stadium Australia. Once the date for the game was announced I booked flights to Sydney for myself. I rang a mate in Sydney and told him I was coming and he said he would organise the tickets.
I Got A Feeling
I went to work as normal that morning, except dressed in Green and Gold. At about 2pm I had a girl from the office drive me to GC airport for my 3pm flight to Sydney. I can’t remember being so excited prior to this moment. If the Black Eyed Peas had released their song back then I would have been singing “I Got A Feeling” all the way there.
Landed in Sydney and hoped on a train to Central and then had to find the train to Homebush. I couldn’t believe the size of the crowd heading to the train. The feeling just got better. The train was packed and we took off, express to Homebush. I rang my mate when I arrived and met him at the gate. By this time it was 7pm, 1 hr till kickoff. The stadium was jam packed. I headed to the food line for a burger then lined up for a beer. It took me 40 mins and I finally arrived at my seat 15 mins before kickoff.
I had watched the Johnny Warren tribute on a TV whilst in line for a beer, it was very emotional and all the people in the line were just getting more buzzed about the whole night. “We all had a feeling”.
My seat was in row 16 behind the goals at the North end 2 bays over from the GGA. The atmosphere was electric. I had never been in a crowd this big for any event. What a night to be part of this was going to turn out. My mate didn’t tell me we were part of a large crew of people from my old club Engadine Eagles, so there were heaps of old faces to catch up with, all be it briefly.
The excitement grew when the teams entered the pitch. They lined up for the National Anthems and I could not believe it when the Uruguay anthem started and the crowd jeered and whistled throughout, it was insane and I joined in after realizing it was in protest at the treatment our blokes copped from the unfriendly Uruguayans in Montevideo, 5 days earlier. Then we sung our lungs out for “Advance Australia Fair”, the sound was awesome, 80,000 people all behind our National Football team.
And So It Begins….
The game kicked off and we were into it. Joining in on chants and sons that were started by people around us. It really started to build. I was telling my mates that if we win, I am taking the family to Germany. They couldn’t believe it, I told them it was a no brainer. After 32 years, I wasn’t going to miss our chance at a World Cup.
Then about the 35 min mark (I think), Marco Bresciano banged in a goal right in front of us and the crowd went wild. Do we dare to dream? You bet we do, that’s all I had dreamt about for 12 months, getting to the World Cup.
The game ebbed and flowed. The next biggest cheer was when “Mr Divine Right Ricoba” was replaced. Oh how we laughed. Eventually we ended in extra time and the nerves really amped up. Then Full Time. We are going to Penalties. I definitely had a feeling now, but it was more like I wanted to vomit. This shit was made for TV surely. How could 32 years of waiting come down to this dramatic conclusion? It just did.
When Shwartz saved the first one, the feeling came back, we are surely going to do it tonight, surely. It all came crashing down when Dukes put his wide though. But the true hero of the night, Mark Shwartzer stepped up again and saved what is the best penalty save in the history of football in any country in any time.
“Here’s John Aloisi for a place in the World Cup, he scores, Australia has done it……..” I heard these words from Simon Hill the next night when I finally got to watch the highlights. I even made a ringtone out of it and had it on my work phone for 18 months.
The single best night I have ever had at the Football or any sporting event for that matter. Within minutes I was on the phone to home and yelling down the phone, “we’re going to Germany, we’re going to Germany” I couldn’t hear my wife of sons but knew the phone had been answered. Thailand was now dead and buried and we had a European Vacation to plan.
I have since been to Germany and South Africa World Cups, as well as the Asian Cup in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia and seen just about every Aussie home game since. I even started this blog because of that one night.
In 16 days time on December 2 in Zurich the announcement of the World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022 will be announced. It will be the early hours of Dec 3 here and just like I did back when Juan Antonio announced “And the winner is…. Sidineey” I will be up watching this with even greater anticipation. Having the World Cup in Australia would be an awesome boost for the game in this country, and right now we do need a boost.
To pledge your support, go along to www.australiabid.com.au and sign up. Costs nothing and adds yet another number to support the bid.
Come On Aussies, we can do it. We just need a little faith.
“I got a feeling, whoo hoo”