Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Football Fans: Australia Day was never like this.

A long long time as a new immigrant I'd wander along to the Australia Day events, watch with bemusement at cars carrying their Australian flag, complete with Union Jack, and wonder at the sentiments being thrown from the passing windscreens of cars. Wait for the fireworks - is there any other way to celebrate in Australia other than fireworks - and then we'd all resume normal service, until ANZAC Day when we do it all again.

Most sports fans watched cricket on Australia Day (or maybe Tennis), as they had on Boxing Day it seems, and all throughout the summer. Cricket is not my thing.

Football fans had to follow the overnight scores from England, Italy or in my case Celtic Park.

It didn't feel right.

Having grown up and enjoyed the passion surrounding football in the UK I yearned for a game, a big game, a televised game with a passionate crowd right here in my new country.

There was the occasional Grand Final in Perth or Brisbane that made me wonder. There was the Socceroos' home qualifier every four years and that in terms of big games was largely it. I know we had the NSL - I watched it all but it didn't feel quite right to me. Not in terms of crowds, stadia - remember Archie at Morwell on TV, his current stage is more appropriate - and certainly not in terms of media coverage.

Now we have our own occasions. And lots of them seem to be building.

We can even get into Australia Day, and from fans with tickets the noise is this will be the highlight of the day. What a fantastic way to end the day.

And fireworks on the football field, Archie v ADP or should that be Rojas v ADP. That's my idea of an Australia Day celebration.

Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC - sold out. Followed by the Wanderers v Heart. Two games sure to cause any sports fan to stop for a moment as they flick through the channels.

Heck! We're even grabbing and using some of the AFL ideas, you know where we make ANZAC legends blur with Lance Franklin or Chris Judd or is it the other way round.

The FFA have taken the immigration ceremonies which are held across Australia Day and planted them front and centre into the Melbourne Sydney game. I hate it, but it's mainstream and it's brilliant.

This is where the game needs to be.

And I'm sure many in the crowd will ponder their own, or their families passage to Australia at this moment.

Football is building some great rivalries, some passion in the stands and increasing quality in the coaching arena and in the teams on display. The tempo is up the skills are responding. In short we're moving, fast.

Buzz Rothfield wrote this week that football has more avid 15-34 male fans than cricket. Read that again and discuss!

If this statement is correct, it's a startling positive statistic in a country where football on tv has been largely hidden, and cricket know the rest.

We've a long way to go in football in Australia, but Australia Day will become a traditional day for football fans and sports viewers.

Can't wait for Australia Day! I'd never thought I'd say that!

1 comment:

Paul said...

South tried to get an Australia Day game tradition started against Perth Glory back in 2004.

Sadly, for obvious reasons we were unable to continue the concept in subsequent years. Maybe someday, again... one can dream I suppose.