Club v Country
This Sunday the Socceroos take on the New Zealand All Whites in a friendly at Adelaide Oval. My wife and I will be flying down to catch up with fellow supporters and watch the match. I just love it when the Socceroos are playing and especially when I can go to watch them LIVE.
The players these days also look forward to the games and always make themselves available, fitness prevailing. The Club v Country argument rarely pops up these days and the national Team is better for it.
However, this is not about the players but ME, a fan. And perhaps others as well.
I grew up in the Sutherland Shire, South of Sydney. There was no LOCAL NSL team to support. The Shire in those days was a very Anglo area, Football was and still is big at junior level and I played for the Engadine Eagles.
However the NSL was seen as dominated by “Wog” clubs. It wasn’t until a mate of ours ended up playing for Sydney Croatia that we started to show any interest in the NSL. It was all local stuff and watch the Rugby League on the TV.
For me though I was always interested in the Socceroos and what they were up to. I got what news I could, as Dad wouldn’t watch that “Wog” channel. So for me I grew up with no “Tribal” allegiance to any particular “Club” or “Team” other than the Eagles and the Socceroos.
Fast Forward to 2005 and the A-League is kicking off, the Socceroos have to again play Uruguay to make the World Cup in Germany and I am now living on the Gold Coast.
I made the trip to Brisbane a number of times to watch the Roar play. I was excited to watch a Professional Game of football in Australia for the first time. I was 41 years old, my boys are mid teens and my financial situation was that I could afford to do this stuff. I also had the desire, which was never there before. 12 months earlier I had said to my wife “if the Socceroos make it to the World Cup, we are going on one hell of a family holiday”.
Although I enjoyed going to Brisbane to watch A-League, I had no attachment to the club. But I did have an attachment to the Socceroos. On November 16, 2005 I was in the crowd. Within 2 minutes of Aloisi putting us into the World Cup I rang my wife to let her know we were going to Germany, even though she was well aware of the win and was jumping around our lounge room with our boys.
I continued to attend a few Roar matches each season depending on the draw and the team they played. I always felt I was supporting the League rather than the club. Then in 2008 it was announced that Clive Palmer was bank rolling Gold Coast United into the A-League. I started to get real excited about the AL then. It was 15 mins to Skilled Stadium and it was my “Local” team. After all I had been here 13 years by then.
I set about finding fellow supporters on line and in the end was part of the inaugural committee for Gold Coast United Supporters Club. It was a buzz getting this up and running. I had never been apart of something so local on a National Stage before. I got to meet a heap of great people and be part of something historical. A First.
During that first season I only went to Brisbane as an away game and made a deliberate decision NOT to go to any others. After all I was planning another World Cup tour, this time to South Africa.
The ups and downs of GCU are well documented and I don’t intend to go over them. I came back from South Africa pumped for another AL season, and this time was determined to do at least 1 away game. Although I booked and paid for the heart Game, it didn’t happen for personal reasons. A number of things then happened both at the club and personally which deflated me and that enthusiasm.
Although I still went to the games I just wasn’t as enthusiastic. I love the game and want the AL to continue to grow, but couldn’t explain how disappointed I was with my own Club.
So when the New Zealand match was announced I was right on to it. I booked flights, bought tickets and booked a Hotel. Absolutely looking forward to it yet again.
The A League draw was released on Tuesday. GCU forum is a buzz with activity and a thread has started already about a “National Service” game. An early favourite is New Year against CCM followed 4 days later by the Jets on that massive Wednesday. I will wait until December to make up my mind.
I could also by a season membership now for a 10% discount, but haven’t. I will buy one but have decided I have other things to spend my money on at the moment.
I suspect the main reason is I have to develop my “tribal” following of a Football Franchise placed on the Gold Coast by a Billionaire without any organic growth. I had to get into it straight away with a bunch of people I had never met. These people are great and I will gladly go to the games with them, but there is definitely something missing in my Football experience here on the Gold Coast.
So, Club v Country. For me it is obviously Country